Golden State forward Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players in the world right now, and maybe one of the best scorers we’ve ever seen in the NBA, holding a career scoring average of 27.2 points per game, good for 4th all-time in NBA history, and first among active players.
That’s why when he decided to leave Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to search for greener pastures in the Bay Area, there was a vocal outcry from fans and media personalities alike, questioning how fair it is that a generational player can join a team that went 73-9 the previous season and lost the NBA Finals in 7 games.
But what if Durant didn’t decide to make a move for the Warriors? What if he still wanted out from OKC, but made a move East to compete against LeBron James every year and form a superteam of his own, not joining one that was already in full effect?
Here are 3 destinations Kevin Durant could’ve signed with if he didn’t destroy the NBA with the Warriors decision.
3. Miami Heat
Coming in at number 3 on our list, KD possibly could’ve made a deal with LeBron’s old stomping grounds in South Beach, Florida.
Despite how unlikely this was looking back, serious rumors were swirling regarding a possible Durant move to Miami, just like LeBron had done six years prior.
This was mainly due to the fact that Heat owner Pat Riley was a mastermind at pulling off talent coups during free agency, and he has a proven track record, stealing away Tim Hardaway, Goran Dragic and Shaquille O’Neal for almost nothing. And let’s not forget scooping James out of Cleveland.
Could you imagine if Riley actually managed to pull this off though? They would’ve added a top 5 player to their team who can provide 25 points at least on any given night, alongside defensive stalwart Hassan Whiteside, and also may have managed to keep Miami favorite Dwyane Wade in town if KD had signed with the Heat, forming a second Big 3 in South Beach only 2 years removed from the original band of James, Wade and Bosh.
I have a feeling that team would be a strong contender in the East for sure.
2. Washington Wizards
Don’t get me wrong, KD on the Heat would’ve been pretty fun to watch, but Durant heading back home, ala LeBron, to join forces with star point guard John Wall, and up-and-coming two-guard Bradley Beal? You almost couldn’t write a better script in my opinion.
This move may not seem that favorable when considering the fact that Kevin Durant now has a championship ring and a Finals MVP next to his name, but it’s also not like the Wizards would be stuck in the middle of the East getting bounced out in the second round either.
KD actually touched on why he didn’t want to join the Wizards in February of this year, in an interview with The Washington Post:
“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home. It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new,” Durant added. “It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”
At least we have a reason for Durant passing on the Wizards, he just didn’t want to return home, pretty understandable if you ask me.
But c’mon, pairing one of the greatest scorers in league history alongside arguably the best point guard in the East, and definitely one of the best passers in the league? We may have been looking at a Stockton/Malone-esque pairing right there.
1. Boston Celtics
This had to be number one, as it was probably the most likely move Durant would’ve made outside of re-signing with the Thunder.
It was so likely in fact, that multiple reports have stated Durant would be in a Boston Celtics uniform right now if Golden State had not blown a 3-1 lead to Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals. A blessing in disguise perhaps?
“On Saturday, July 2, Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, GM Danny Ainge, and Patriots QB Tom Brady fly to the East Hampton Airport to meet with Durant. The players they bring: Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder. Thomas, Olynyk and Crowder pose for photos with Brady next to the Celtics owners’ jet, and, in the meeting, the Celtics group pitches teaming KD with Horford — not knowing Durant had already heard that idea just days before in Oklahoma City. Still, Durant meets with Boston for four hours. And, in the aftermath, many sources around the NBA come to believe this: Boston might have landed Durant had the Warriors won the Finals — as Durant wouldn’t want to have looked like a man hopping aboard a dynasty.”
It looks like the Celtics went all out to try and recruit Durant, getting Patriots star QB Tom Brady to help the cause is a big deal.
Considering Boston finished as the number one seed in the East without signing Durant, they didn’t really miss out on much, as they now go for one of Gordon Hayward, Jimmy Butler or Paul George this offseason, but it’s no lie that grabbing KD would’ve made them the favorites in the East.
I have a feeling that LeBron’s streak of seven-straight Finals appearances may have been broken if Kevin made a move to Beantown.