July 07, 2016

Kevin Durant, the Warriors, the NBA: First thoughts

Kevin Durant, new Warrior
First, I'll have to say Kevin Durant surprised me in two ways. I thought he would stay with he Thunder, and I think I vaguely thought that if he did leave, he'd sign a max contract with another team, not a one-and-option, as he's doing with the Golden State Warriors.

Kudos for his apparent smarts, and kudos to the Logo, Jerry West, for his part in recruiting Durant. Never underestimate that man.

Now that Durant has made his choice what happens next in Golden State? It seems like it should be easy for the Warriors to win the next title. But is that true? They’re losing one good defensive player in Harrison Barnes. They’re probably going to lose another in Andrew Bogut. And Andre Iguodala’s back is still a question mark. Plus even if they overcome these relative defensive deficiencies Coach Steve Kerr still have to integrate Durant into a new office and have to integrate Steph Curry and Klay Thompson into play with Durant.

Meanwhile, the one and option contract could be a lead anchor in a year. Curry will be a free agent even while Durant can threaten to opt out. So, the Dubs, while obviously in win-now mode, have no choice but to be in win-now mode.

And that's further complicated by the NBA now cutting by $5M its 2017-18 salary cap estimate.

And superteams aren't guaranteed wins. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat lost two of four Finals trips.

How does this play out elsewhere? The Cavs don’t have money for any major moves. The Thunder now have money available and made a decent trade last week but they really need someone kind of like Barnes, in my opinion, but there’s really nobody like that left.

The Spurs? If Tim Duncan is retiring there they can finish turning a page and Kawhi Leonard can make the team his. That includes taking over from Tony Parker, who I don't think really grasped this in last year's playoffs. And, the signing of Pau Gasol makes them better and more versatile. (Counting playoffs, Gasol has a whopping 15,000 fewer minutes on his odometer than Duncan.)

The Clippers appear no better that last year. A healthy Memphis including a healthy new Chandler Parsons could move into the top half of the West past the Thunder. And that would be it. Sorry, Rockets fans, i don't see you moves breaking you in the top four. Ditto for you, Mavs fans. And the Thunder have to decide what to do, or try to do, with Russell Westbrook. I guess odds are 2-1 against an extension, so who trades for him and how much do they give?


Boston seems most likely to challenge Cleveland in the East. No other team in the East is a serious competitor. Here's some early Vegas odds.

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