by RANDY SMITH
The irony that Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City and the rumors of feuds between he and Westbrook, unhappiness with the front office and the desire to run his own show, on a day that celebrates independence is unsettling within itself. But the thing that stands out the most is the fact that none of those factors seemed to play a role in his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors.
People questioned whether or not he wanted to have “his own team”, claiming that Westbrook was beginning to challenge his reign. That obviously wasn’t the case. He’s going to a team that has three established All-Stars that take shots. Not a few shots, a lot of shots.
Truth is, Durant made his decision for reasons that were completely opposite to previous beliefs. He wanted to go to a place where he could play more of a conservative, all-around game, without having to be responsible for more than half of the offensive load on a nightly basis.
He wanted to contend for a title, and although OKC with him on the roster, would have been a contender; him joining the Warriors forms a super team who’s likes has never been seen before.
He’s going to play for a team with an aggressive, scoring point guard that takes a lot of quick shots, much like Westbrook, so it wasn’t that. Could it be that he wants to be able to have an off night or two that goes unnoticed in the whirlwind surrounding the newly formed squad?
Either way, he’s gone now and the Thunder are headed down a path that they’ve never been down before. The day that Thunder fans have been dreading long before losing game 7 after leading the series 3-1 is here. And although they still have a decent core of Westbrook, Oladipo, Kanter and Adams, whoever they get at small forward will shape their expectations for the next few seasons.
Most teams have elite or high level wingmen, so it’ll be interesting to see if they sign a quick fix and try to pick up an elite forward next summer. They could try to package a deal and make a move for someone long term this season, but waiting until next year to make a move is risky, because there’s no guarantee Westbrook resigns. So if they do elect the quick fix, they’ll have to go above and beyond to show him they have a plan to be great again.
Making a move for a low risk scorer like Rudy Gay or someone of that nature is the route they’ll take if they do go after someone.
As of right now, the The Thunder roster is capable of being a 6-8 seed. A lot of pressure is now on Oladipo to produce at a high level right away, and both Kanter and Adams have to prove that Ibaka was truly expendable.
With Durant signed, a lot of other free agents dominoes will begin to fall into place, putting an end to one of the most hectic free agency summers in recent history. One that changed the lives of OKC fans forever.