Summer 2016 was the Summer of KD, Kevin Durant, as the 1st of July marked the beginning of NBA free agency. It has been known for quite awhile that many teams would attempt to court Kevin Durant at the conclusion of the season, and due to the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, many teams now had the cap space to try and sign him.
On July 4th Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to Oakland and agreed to sign a 2-year $54.3 million contract with an early termination player option included. Durant will be joining forces with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and a squad coming off of a 73 win season. Adding Kevin Durant only makes this team better and on paper the Warriors now look like the best team in the history of the NBA.
Prior to signing KD this offseason, the Golden State Warriors had achieved the best regular season record in NBA history, a mark of 73 wins and 9 losses. Their season came to an end when the Cleveland Cavaliers came back to win the NBA Finals from being down 3 games to 1, the first time this had ever been accomplished in NBA Finals history. But before this occurred the Golden State Warriors made a comeback of their own against Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder. Similar to how they lost, the Warriors won the series against Kevin Durant’s Thunder squad by coming back from down 3 games to 1.
Game 7 between the Thunder and Warriors was one for the ages and one of the most viewed games in NBA history. In the moment the focus was on which team would go to the NBA Finals, but what not a lot of people considered was that Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals would be Kevin Durant’s last in a Thunder uniform. In a matter of 48 minutes not only did the Thunder lose a chance to return to the NBA Finals, but they also watched the Golden State Warriors march on and walk away with their franchise player.
Kevin Durant alerted the world of his decision with an article on The Players Tribune where he gave his reasoning for wanting to join Golden State;
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
This move received all sorts of criticism, mainly negative from people around the league and NBA experts. Stephen A. Smith refers to KD joining the Warriors as the “weakest move” he has ever seen from a superstar, while NBA players like Dwyane Wade have referred to it as a “power move”. Whether people like it or hate it one thing is for certain: the Warriors have become overwhelming favorites to win the NBA Finals in 2017 with the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook now having the Warriors at a 2-3 favorite. Whether he is seen as a hero or a villain Kevin Durant’s impact will be monumental and the 2016-2017 NBA season shall be one to remember.