Three logical landing spots for Kevin Durant

Now that the 2015-2016 season has come to a close, one thing is on everyone’s mind; where is Kevin Durant going to play going forward? Well we’re here to speculate on three landing spots for the “Slim Reaper.”

 

3) Boston Celtics

Now look, Durant and his camp haven’t ruled out any teams so everyone that can make a play at him financially likely will. So after many discussions with teams across the league, we believe there will only be three teams remaining, one being the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are an extremely promising young team with a Head Coach that has never had a poor word spoken about him, dating all the way back to his time at the University of Butler. The one thing they are lacking is star power. Isaiah Thomas is the closest thing to a star, but he’s only made one all-star team roster. That said, a large portion of their 48-win team will still be intact next season. Only three of their free agents had a real big impact on this past season’s team and both are restricted (Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller) and Boston will likely be able to match any contract offers made. Evan Turner is the third player but I’m fairly certain most people would consider getting Kevin Durant an upgrade over Turner.

The one thing the Celtics have a lot of is draft picks. The acquired the Nets’ next three first-round draft picks a couple of years back, as well as getting one from Dallas from trading Rajon Rondo and also having picks of their own. If Durant’s had specific stipulations about coming to Boston and one was trading their picks to acquire championship-ready talent, I’m nearly 100-percent sure the Celtics would oblige.

Now if they did acquire Durant, it’s likely they begin playing a lot of small ball. They’d still be able to slow the pace down and play big, especially if they resign Sullinger. That said, it would be on Durant if he would move down and play more power-forward.

The Celtics are a superstar away from being serious contenders in LeBron James’ conference. We’d call it the east but he’s owned it for six consecutive seasons so what’s the point? Does Durant think a Celtics team with him heading the roster can beat the Cavaliers and win championships? We think it’s more than plausible to think that he does.

 

2) Golden State Warriors

We understand many of you are wondering…WHAT? But hear us out. What does Durant seemingly want more than anything? A championship. Where have the Warriors made it too the past two seasons? The NBA Finals. The two are a perfect match.

If the Warriors want to make a serious push at Durant, they will be able to financially. The Warriors payroll was north of $93M this past season. If they resign nobody, including restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, they’ll have close to $20M available in spending money. The salary cap is also rising, likely giving the Warriors a few couple of million to play with.

Strategically, the Warriors would have zero problems sliding Durant into the then departed Harrison Barnes’ role. The Warriors already have the league’s best offense and that’s before he ever put on their jersey and Durant would take them to a whole new level. Adding him and subtracting Barnes in the Dubs “death lineup” would be virtually unstoppable. Although we haven’t seen Durant play in an offense quite like this, we’re sure one of the three best players on the planet would drastically lower his isolation percentage for consistently great looks at the rim.

We personally believe the Warriors are the favorites heading into the 2016-’17 season without Durant, but if they acquired him, there would be no way around it. Yes he would still be in the daunted Western Conference, but he’d have so much help surrounding him, he’d be silly to not strongly consider this franchise as a candidate.

 

1) Oklahoma City Thunder

Yeah, yeah, how original. But out of all 30 teams in the NBA, resigning with the Thunder makes the most sense for Kevin Durant. At least for the 2016-’17 season, that is. Beyond that is really anyone’s guess.

The Thunder has virtually everyone from this year’s Western Conference Finals team coming back under contract. If Durant resigns, it’s likely the team won’t make any big time moves because of their limited amount of income left over.

Look, the Thunder might only have one more crack at it. Not only is Durant a free agent this year, Russell Westbrook becomes a free agent after the 2017-’18 season. If Durant signs a one-year deal, they’ll have another chance at getting back to the Western Conference Finals and this time, beating whoever’s in their way. It’ll be the second-year with Head Coach Billy Donovan and the players will begin to trust his methods a lot more.

The Thunder were one measly game away from this years NBA finals before collapsing against the Warriors. If Durant feels like next year will be different, he’ll resign without much hesitation. We should expect Durant to wreak havoc for the Thunder for at least one more season.

What’s Harrison Barnes Worth in Free Agency?

With the 2012-’13 rookie class’ free agency looming, Harrison Barnes has spent four seasons playing second fiddle to the “Splash Brothers.” Barnes potential is sky high and shows flashes of it on some nights. But when the dust clears and Barnes is receiving offers from other teams, will the Warriors match? What’s Barnes truly worth?

Let’s compare Barnes to another small-forward during the last year of his contract. Let’s take Gordon Hayward’s 2013-’14 season and compare Barnes’ 2015-’16 per-36 numbers:

Barnes and Hayward’s per-36

Hayward remained with the Jazz after they matched the Hornets offer sheet of $63M over four years. That’s $15.75M annually. Barnes per 36 numbers are slightly better than Hayward, but the Jazz have always relied on Hayward more than the Warriors have relied on Barnes.

Barnes, statistically, is a better shooter than Hayward. It could have to do with the way each is relied upon in their respective roles, but the stats could be back up the actual facts. But why pay a guy that type of money if he has a usage rate similar to the likes of Spencer Hawes, Alex Len and Corey Brewer?

Barnes per-36 numbers are an indication what he can do going forward. He’s averaging nearly 16 points per-36 and that’s as the fourth, and on some nights the fifth option on the Warriors. He’s extremely solid in many different ways scoring the ball. He can be a catch and shoot player, can post you up, and can take you off of the bounce. He’s superior than Hayward offensively in many ways, just won’t get credit for it until he’s in a role where he can just let it fly.

At his 6’9” frame, Barnes will be a hot commodity this offseason. The game is changing and Barnes will be able to play multiple positions, including power-forward. It’s highly likely the Warriors attempt to keep Barnes, especially if they win another championship. Why lose any pieces to a two-time champion? But even if they do keep him, don’t expect it to be cheap and expect them to have to match another team’s deal, just like Utah had to do with Hayward.

Expectations? He resigns with Golden State for a contract larger than Hayward’s. With the way players are signing deals and getting inflated contracts, expect nothing less with Barnes’.