The “Summer of Kevin” is just getting started; Celtics in the running for NBA’s most coveted free agent.
4 NBA Scoring Titles, 7 All Star, 6 All-NBA Team Selections, and the 2014 NBA MVP Award. Since being drafted out of Texas in 2008, Kevin Durant has taken the NBA by storm and become one of its most iconic figures. He is a world-renowned athlete, and this summer, his talents will be up for grabs as he becomes a free agent for the first time in his life.
Many NBA experts are predicting that he will stick to the comfort of playing with the team that he has been with for his entire career, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Or, they suggest that he will go to Golden State and join forces with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green to form one of the scariest starting lineups that basketball has ever seen. However, none of those destinations are the best option for Durant in free agency. In fact, the team which offers in the best mix of leadership and scoring opportunities as well championship possibilities is the Boston Celtics.
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Why, you may ask? The main reason is two words: Eastern Conference. If you really think about it, the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers (with a healthy Blake Griffin and Chris Paul) would have easily made the Eastern Conference Finals if they were in the East. Even the Rockets and Trail Blazers, average playoff teams in the West, would have had a great shot at finding their way through the Eastern Conference the playoffs en route to a match up with Cleveland in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
The reality: the Western Conference features several extremely deep and talented teams led by star players, meaning that teams in the West usually have to make it through many very tough matchups to even reach the NBA Finals. This year, Durant’s Thunder had to face the Spurs and the Warriors, two teams who had just finished historic regular seasons, in the last two rounds of the Western Conference Playoffs. On top of that, early round match ups in the West are often against teams like the Clippers, Rockets, Blazers, and Mavericks. Playing these teams involves figuring out a way to contain a superstar like Blake Griffin, James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Dirk Nowitzki, which is no easy task.
This is simply not the case in the Eastern Conference. The aside from the Cavaliers, some of the East’s top teams include the Raptors, Pacers, and Hawks, who are much less intimidating than the beasts of the West. Yes, there are many stars on these teams, such as Kyle Lowry and Paul George, but these playoff teams are not as deep their western counterparts. On most occasions, a Durant led Celtics team will be able to beat those squads with Durant’s talented scoring ability and the Celtics’ strong defense. This means that the Celtics with Durant will essentially get a free pass to the Eastern Conference Finals almost every year, which is too good of an opportunity to for Durant pass up. Instead of worrying about challenging opponents to take down in every round of the playoffs, Durant and the Celtics should really only have to worry about playing the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Beating Cleveland is no easy task, but by signing a 5 year max contract in Boston, Durant will get 5 chances to take down King James and the mighty Cavaliers. All it takes is one strong series from Durant and the Celtics to defeat Cleveland advance to the NBA Finals. Boston’s up and coming roster which features young players like Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and rookie Jaylen Brown will only continue to get better year by year, and by teaming with Durant, the Celtics will have many opportunities to win a coveted NBA Championship.
In addition, Boston has enough cap room to for two max contract players, meaning that they can sign a scoring big man like Al Horford in free agency this year or wait until next year to sign dynamic power forward Blake Griffin. They could even try to trade for Griffin this year, as there has allegedly been some tension between in Clippers star and his team. Boston has the assets to pull of a major trade for a big-name player because they have the right to swap first round picks with the lowly Brooklyn Nets in 2017 and own the Nets Pick in 2018. A Big Three of Isaiah Thomas, Durant, and another all-star player would be a dominant force in the Eastern Conference. Durant should seriously consider this enticing opportunity.
In addition, Boston will give Durant the leadership opportunity that can help him keep his high-profile status. Yes, he can go to Golden State and have a very easy shot at a championship. However, this will require him to give up his status as the #1 scoring option on his team, something that he has most likely never done in his life. With the Warriors, Durant would most likely be the #2 or #3 scoring option, behind reigning league MVP Stephen Curry and possibly sharpshooter Klay Thompson. In Boston, Durant would be the unquestioned #1 option and team leader. This will allow him retain his status as an extremely high-profile athlete, subsequently increasing his popularity around the world.
Durant will still be popular on the Warriors, but he will be more highly regarded if he is the leader of his team, which will definitely be the case in Boston. This could lead to even more endorsement deals and opportunities off the court for Durant, a potential added bonus to the already magnificent situation that he will have in Boston. Playing in Boston will also have a positive impact on his legacy. After playing for the Celtics in his prime, people will remember him for always being the best player on his team instead of traveling on the “easy route” and taking a backseat to other stars.
With Boston, Durant has the chance to be the unquestioned team leader and #1 scorer, the chance to play with a talented and promising team, and the opportunity to go deep in the playoffs every year. So Kevin, what do you say, do you want to chase banner number 18 in Boston?
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