The NBA’s greatest epic has been built around the crash of a meteorite star landing on a small market, agitating the city around their greatness in hopes of bringing back glory. Think LeBron James in Cleveland, Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, Tim Duncan in San Antonio, Isiah Thomas in Detroit, Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston, Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee and Bill Walton in Portland. Kevin Durant deserves to be on that list. But he will be the only one who can’t bring home the championship to the city that recruited him. Only James could be involved in the bitter divorce that both parties felt when he left in 2016.
Oklahoma City has no idea how good they have it. They immediately knew greatness when they were awarded the Supersonics and Durant franchises from Seattle in 2008. Then, under the elite acumen of GM Sam Presti, they drafted Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Next year James Harden. Those four players formed one of the greatest young cores in NBA history. The Oklahoma City Thunder are predicted to be a dynasty, with the only thing standing in their way is the maturation of young superstars.
Then the dominoes began to crumble, first in the summer of 2011 when Presti refused to re-sign Harden, instead transfer him to the Houston Rockets. Since that time, Presti has gone to great lengths to balance his slot draft history with a string of bad deals, free agency contracts, and coach hires. It culminated in Durant’s eighth season at OKC, mentally and physically exhausting to share the ball with Westbrook and shoulder the burden of fouling. Durant leaves holding franchise the ego in it hand when he screwed to letm is one of the best teams of all time in Golden State.
Durant is facing a similar situation in Brooklyn with a fickle defender and a door revolving around coach incompetence. Durant is playing with the second highest utilization rate of his career of 32.5 but with a win percentage of 0.213. Durant is back to the 30 ppg average for the first time in eight seasons. However, it has not yet translated into a victory, as the Nets have gone 8-9 in the first 17 games after firing former head coach Steve Nash, as suspended Irving for sharing anti-Semitic propaganda on his social media.
Durant was so fed up with the circus that the Nets had become that he put out a trade request this past summer. He withdrew it after long discussions with Brooklyn but the specter of him coming back to it haunted the lousy start of the season. If he does, then there’s a story that could fix the sinister turn that Durant has fought for and sometimes accepted since leaving OKC. When Durant told the team he wanted to trade just a few months ago, Brooklyn found the trading market exhausted with the kind of blockbuster deal they were looking for. To trade Durant would require a nuclear rebuild of the roster, making picks the most valuable profit.
Only one team can provide this, and in many ways it seems Oklahoma’s hoarding of draft capital over the past few years has led to such a moment. If Durant decides to leave Brooklyn, he should return to Oklahoma City, mend his relationship with the basketball-mad fanbase and his image as a player who can’t be won on his own. all. Thunder’s roster, as it’s currently built, could sacrifice two or three of their young cores, such as Chet Holmgren, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, and payers while maintaining substantial talent around around Durant. If Durant could join a Thunder team that includes the current MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, defensive ace Lu Dort, Tre Mann reserve spark plug, two-way monster improvement Aleksej Pokusevski, stable subs Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Mike Muscala, Jalen Williams and Jaylen Williams, Thunder can return to the correct position. they joined in the summer of 2011, with a lot of talent and are the best offensive player in the game.
The Thunder will also have to part ways with most of the 15 first-round picks they’ve accumulated over the past few seasons. Presti has gripped his pearls on these picks, refusing to include them in order to improve the roster in the short term. The SGA/Durant duo is a championship-winning two-player combo. SGA is Westbrook’s antithesis, and everything about the game and his demeanor suggests he’ll pick Durant as alpha on a team that’s almost unstoppable with him being the second choice. Questions remain about whether development coach Mark Daigneault is the right person to coach a team led by Durant. But it’s time for Presti to show that he’s evolved and is ready to replace Coach D with a respected name if Durant asks.
Durant will have a chance to prove to the haters that he can win the championship in a squad led primarily by his excellence. The Warriors teams he won two rings were champions before he joined. Many people criticized him for giving up trying to win the hard way and finding the easy way at Golden State. Returning to OKC will be like James returning to Cleveland in 2016 after he left to team Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat. Durant will also repair his relationship with the Thunder fan base and main office, with whom he has been back and forth since leaving, blacking out what was once an example of his glory. a small town.
Most NBA observers outside Oklahoma City, who didn’t bring water as Presti apologists, can concede that the Thunder damaged one of the most amazing young cores in history. NBA. But they are in for a unique opportunity for a second chance. Through the second phase of the elite player evaluation process, Presti has once again amassed one of the best young cores in the NBA. He could continue on the slow road of rebuilding, eventually cashing in on his picks for another star and building towards an eventual disputed return. Or he could shift the process to fifth gear and take home the greatest player in franchise history, Durant. While the first choice is clearly more conservative, NBA lore is built on people who forge their own destiny. And as Presti himself put it, “money is afraid to make money.” We agree, Presti. Now bring Durant home.