After the NBA Finals that ended in the blink of an eye, it’s time for the real drama to begin, the NBA Offseason. The main storyline will be The Summer Of LeBron, Part III, but a secondary story will be what happens with Kevin Durant. Durant is going to resign with the Warriors, but the drama lies within the size of the contract. How long will it be for and how much money will he command?
Durant has been following the LeBron model. Take shorter deals with early opt outs in order to capitalize on the salary cap increase and give the team more money to sign other players to compete for championships. Let’s be honest. Money is not the primary concern for Durant and LeBron right now. It’s championships. That being said, Durant is smart and knows when he can sign the super max for the most money. If Durant signs another two year deal with an opt after the first year, he would be eligible to sign a five-year, $219 million contract after the 2018-19 season, which would be the biggest deal ever if Kawhi doesn’t sign his super max with the Spurs.
If that scenario plays out, Klay and Draymond would be the odd men out. Steph just got paid. Durant is going to get paid either this year or next year. Klay’s pay day is after the 2018-2019 season and Draymond’s pay day is the year after that. All of these guys have hinted at wanting to keep the dynasty in tact for years to come, but that would involve taking discounted contracts. Are they willing to do that? The front office is already trying to get ahead of the issue by trying to extend the contracts of Klay and Draymond. Pay them now and it will save money in the long run. However, Klay and Draymond would be leaving potential max money on the table. Once again, are they willing to do that?
The Warriors dynasty should last at least one more year. After that, the real fun begins.
Steph Curry is the most important player on the Warriors AND Kevin Durant is the best player on the Warriors. Both statements can be true. The four year run that the Warriors are on can be traced back to the play and more importantly, the health of Steph Curry. Hiring Steve Kerr and drafting Klay Thompson and Draymond Green definitely helps, but a healthy Steph is the fuel to the machine.
It’s no surprise as to what the Warriors want to do on offense. They want to run you into the ground, shoot a lot of jump shots especially in transition, and when teams start to overplay, they slip screens and get to the rim. Steph is the catalyst and his play elevates the Warriors from a very good team to a great team. Unlike most teams, when a star goes down, it’s devastating. Most teams don’t have Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the 2nd best player in the world, Kevin Durant, at their disposal. However, the Warriors become more stagnant without Curry on the floor, leading to iso-ball in the post and forced shots.
Per Chris Haynes of ESPN, with Curry in the lineup this season, the Warriors went 41-10 while averaging 120.4 points per 100 possessions, which would be the best offensive rating over the past 20 seasons. With him off the floor, however, the Warriors were only 17-14 in the regular season and had an offensive efficiency that was right around the league average.
Plus, Curry has a habit of making the impossible shot possible, which lead to him making a NBA Finals record of nine 3s during Game 2.
Durant was spectacular in Game 3 and asserted his dominance as the 2nd best player in the league behind LeBron James. In a game where the Warriors trailed by double digits, Durant poured in 43 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists. In turn, Curry could not throw the ball in the ocean if he were standing on a boat. There’s something about Game 3 in Cleveland that brings out the killer instinct in Durant.
That pull up 3 tells you a lot about why Durant is the best player on the Warriors besides the fact that it went in. Durant is a matchup nightmare. He’s 6’9″ with a wingspan of over 7’0″, but he can handle the rock like a point guard. No one can block his shot because of that wingspan. When Durant is in rhythm, good luck stopping him. Durant runs the floor well, can finish at the rim with ease, and with Steph setting him up on the wings, the Durantula is lethal from the perimeter.
What makes the Warriors so successful is their ability to leave their egos at the door and just worry about winning. Some nights, Steph is the top guy. Other nights like Game 3, Durant is the man in charge. Do the Warriors need to find out who is the alpha? If they win their 3rd NBA title in 4 years, it doesn’t matter.
Here I was thinking we were about to finally put the exciting NBA Offseason behind us and WHAM. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving said hold me beer and they are the two biggest sports stories this morning.
Let’s start with Kevin Durant aka the Internet Commenter.
KD has secret accounts that he uses to defend himself and forgot to switch to them when he was replying to this guy I'm actually speechless pic.twitter.com/9245gnpa3c
The Internet is truly undefeated. What a find! Kevin Durant is like one of us. He’s an Internet Commenter. He gets in fights with trolls. He makes burner accounts to troll fans who get after him. It just shows that no matter how much success or money someone has, people can take criticism or in this case, Internet comments pretty seriously. I really don’t think KD can claim “hacked” on this one. The significance of the name, being tagged as that name, the problems in OKC. This all just makes too much sense. But Kevin, come on man. I see you trolling people all the time on Twitter from your real account. Why do you need a burner one to do that?
“Kevin, why were you late to practice?”
This is still the best case of forgetting to switch accounts.
Now, onto Kyrie Irving aka the stone face killer! So Kyrie went on First Take this morning and it comes as a surprise to no one that LeBron James was a huge topic of conversation. STEPHEN A and Max hit Kyrie with a bunch of questions about if he spoke to Lebron about the trade, why did he leave Cleveland, etc. Stuff we wanted to hear and after watching some clips, Kyrie’s responses were pretty raw and candid.
“I don’t think you owe anything to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life. It’s not anything personal, I’m not here to tirade anybody or to go at any particular person or the organization because I have nothing but love for Cleveland. I have nothing but love for the time I spent there. It’s nothing about that. There comes a time where you mature as an individual, it’s time to make that decision. and there is no looking back from that standpoint. There is no time to figure out how to save somebody’s feelings when ultimately you have to be selfish in figuring out what you want to do.” – Kyrie Irving
Now Kyrie was dodging questions left and right, but for the most part, Kyrie seemed to be pretty indifferent about LeBron. In fact, I don’t think he even likes LeBron anymore. Now on one hand, business is business. Everyone has to do what is best for them so if Kyrie felt that getting out of Cleveland and going on his own was the right move, then more power to him. That being said, LeBron is not the GM of the team, but to not even talk to LeBron about the trade is a little alarming especially since the two were important in their championship runs.
I think we all know why Kyrie wanted out of Cleveland: He wanted to be “the guy” for a team instead of the “second guy.” I think it’s pretty obvious at this point and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Do I think he should’ve stayed another year to try and win a title with LeBron again? Probably, but Kyrie wanted out before LeBron potentially leaves so it’s not the worst reasoning in the world.
Just skip to May when the Cavs and Celtics play in the Eastern Conference Finals. Must-see tv.
Since Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant decided to hang it up this year, I’ve been doing some serious thinking about who the best NBA players are from my generation.
Since Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant decided to hang it up this year, I’ve been doing some serious thinking about who the best NBA players are from my generation. Meaning, that I’ve seen play over the course of the last 20 years, so players drafted from 1996 and on are eligible for this debate.
Here’s The Official LordTreeSap Top 5:
1. LeBron James – 2003 Draft (St. Vincent-St. Mary)
The best player I’ve ever seen play the game of basketball. This man does it all on the floor, his 2015 NBA Finals performances finally killed the haters, and that block on Iguodala is the best play in crunch time of a championship we will ever see. Perhaps the most amazing thing about LeBron, he lived up to the enormous hype he’s had since the age of 16. With his championship this past season, the pressure is off as the king delivered on his promise. Next order of business, can LeBron conquer the super-team out west?
2. Kobe Bryant – 1996 Draft (Lower Merion)
Truly a tossup right here between Tim and Kobe, I gave the slight edge to the Black Mamba. The 2nd best shooting guard ever leaves the game an 18x All-Star and 5x champion. A drive and desire that could not be stopped. Nobody was more intense on the court than the bean. This guy would do whatever it took to get the W. I will never forget that 60 point game to end his career, pure madness. The greatest Laker ever and closest thing to Jordan in my opinion.
3. Tim Duncan – 1997 Draft (Wake Forest)
The Big Fundamental, Timmy D just went about his business playing the game of basketball. The number one selection from the 1997 draft departs from the NBA as a 15x All-Star and 5x champion. Considered the best power forward of all-time, Duncan is the only player ever to make all-NBA and all-defensive teams in each of his first 13 seasons.
4. Dwyane Wade – 2003 Draft (Marquette)
I really believed Flash was going to retire a member of the Miami Heat. It’s going to be weird seeing him back home in a Bulls jersey. With that said, there’s no denying Wade’s greatness. A star was born after his epic 2006 NBA finals performances against the Mavericks. Still getting it done at the age of 34, Wade ranks not far behind MJ and Kobe as far as top shooting guards of all-time. The Chicago native’s stacked resume includes 12 straight All-Star games and 3 championships in 5 finals trips. He turned Miami into Wade County after all.
5. Allen Iverson – 1996 Draft (Georgetown)
The most polarizing athlete of our generation, and arguably the greatest pound for pound player ever. Everyone wanted to be like Iverson growing up, whether it was the tattoos, his fashion off the court and on it, we all loved The Answer. I remember wearing fake cornrows and an Iverson jersey one day to school to be like him, the adults just don’t get what he means to us. A.I. ranks as the 7th best scorer per game in NBA history. The numbers speak for themselves but it’s impossible to measure the impact he had on fans and the league itself.
Snatching Tyronn Lue’s soul during game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals.
How the new CBA, cheap OKC management and some bad luck pushed Kevin Durant to Golden State.
June 21st, 2012. The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped a deciding game 5 in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat as LeBron captured his first NBA title in South Beach. For the Thunder, it was a huge step in the right direction at the time, coming back from 2-0 against the vaunted powerhouse San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals. Just getting that finals experience was a success in itself for a team led by 4 players ages 23 and under. Durant and Westbrook bloomed as superstars, James Harden picked up 6th man of the year honors and Serge Ibaka asserted himself as one of the best shot blockers in the NBA. The Thunder put the league on watch, showing you the blueprint to building through the draft as each one of the prior names mentioned was drafted in 2007-2009 by the team, which is a credit to their general manager, Sam Presti. Everyone thought this nucleus would be back numerous times to the finals in the coming years.
In 2011, the new collective bargaining agreement made spending over the cap penalty harsher than ever, attempting to scare teams to go into the luxury tax. For example, in 2016 the salary cap is 94 million and the luxury tax is 113 million. The luxury tax is for every dollar you go over, there is a tax owed to the league on that dollar that goes as follows.
This was a reaction to the 2010 Miami Heat “Big 3” of LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Keep this in mind, teams had no idea the cap influx would increase as much as it did because of the new television contract. So the luxury tax is having a reverse impact on building super teams in the league, as bigger markets are more willing to spend well into that luxury tax. The Cleveland Cavaliers owed a record 54 million to the league for their roster this past season, luckily it paid off with a championship.
Fall 2012 – James Harden significantly outplayed his 4 million dollar rookie salary and looked for an extension from the Thunder. Serge Ibaka entered the last year of his rookie deal. So it was decision time, do they go over the salary cap and into the luxury tax for the reigning 6th man of the year or extend Ibaka for cheaper and stay under the salary cap. They did the later, signing Ibaka to a 4 year, $49 million dollar extension and dealing Harden to the Houston Rockets right before the season for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, Two 1st round picks, and One 2nd round pick. A very underwhelming package for a player that went on to become a superstar and the best shooting guard in the NBA in my opinion. A huge botch by Thunder management.
The next three post seasons for the Thunder were ravaged by injury. A torn meniscus for Westbrook in 2013, a calf injury for Ibaka in 2014 and a broken foot for Durant in 2015 prevented Oklahoma City from having a healthy team at the end of the postseason, as they failed to get back to the finals.
May 25th, 2016 – The Thunder looked to close out the Golden State Warriors at home in Game 6 of the 3-2 series. They played a great three quarters leading by 8 at the end of the third. Enter Klay Thompson, who started scorching from deep. Nailing 4 of his 11 three pointers within the first 5 minutes of the quarter. The Thunder were apart of their fair share of blown fourth quarter leads, but could they really let this one get away? Yes, as Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play. Thompson’s 3 with 1:35 remaining put the Warriors up 104-101 over the Thunder, who turned the ball over 6 times in the last 3 minutes. The Thunder saw their chance for a title fade in those last few minutes as they crumbled under the pressure. They then went on to drop Game 7 in Oracle as the Dubs pulled off the improbable 3-1 comeback.
June 24th, 2016 – Serge Ibaka was dealt in a surprising draft night trade to the Orlando Magic. Ibaka is going into the last year of his contract. The Thunder acquired explosive combo guard Victor Oladipo, first round pick Domantas Sabonis, and forward Ersan Ilyasova. I actually thought this was a good deal and would only help their chances of retaining incoming free agent, Kevin Durant.
July 4th, 2016 – After taking meetings with numerous teams in The Hamptons, it was time for Kevin Durant to reveal where he would be playing next year in a poorly written Player’s Tribune article. I really thought there was no way he would leave the Thunder after having the Warriors on the ropes 3-1. I felt he owed it to himself and his teammates to give one more attempt to bring a championship to Oklahoma City, a franchise he helped build from the ground up. I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t picture him in a Warriors jersey. Did a 73 win team just add a superstar, who happens to be a top 5 player? How is this possible? Should we just give them the trophy now? It really is crazy, and unprecedented in the league. It all comes back to the spike in salary cap and having Steph Curry on a bargain 12 million dollar contract. I feel it’s way worse than LeBron joining forces with Bosh and Wade on South Beach in 2010. Durant is a perfect fit and that team is going to be straight up scary. If Durant is all about winning he made the best choice, but to me it will always be the quality of the championship rings you win, not the quantity that defines your legacy.
The third member of the former “Big 4” is gone and the Thunder are left in quite the conundrum. Do they try to compete in the west and patch up the gaping hole Durant left? Do they strip this down and press the reset button and trade Westbrook?
Either way, by next summer, I believe the thought to be future dynasty will be no more as Russell Westbrook will test free agency, and hopefully take his talents to the Knicks. Hey, I can dream, right?
Don’t blame Durant though. Blame the new CBA, cheap Thunder management, and bad luck for Durant’s departure. A few defining moments over the past few years changed Oklahoma City forever. What if they hold on in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals? What if they resigned James Harden? What if Westbrook didn’t tear his MCL in the playoffs? How many rings would this group have before the age of 30?
A lot of what ifs are on the table as the KD & Russ experiment will end with 0 rings.
I can’t wait to see this as an ESPN 30 for 30 in 20 years.
Ok, I can’t take all of the credit for the story. The Warriors had to beat the Thunder in the playoffs and then had to blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals in order for this move to happen so I’ll share the credit with the players.
I said this on February 2nd and I will say it again. The Warriors should go after Kevin Durant.
I’m probably in the minority when I say this but I do not blame stars for wanting to play with other stars. Why should Kevin Durant stay in Oklahoma City when he feels that he has a better chance to win in Golden State? Kevin Durant gave everything he had to OKC, and now he’s hated? Why play with Russell Westbrook when you can play with Steph, Klay, and Draymond? Isn’t this a no brainer?
All I keep hearing is how Durant is soft and Durant is weak and blah blah blah. If KD went to your team, you would be CHEERING this move. Hypocritical fans at it again. I do not blame Kevin Durant whatsoever for leaving. There are only two reasons as to why you leave a team. You either get paid more or you increase your chances of winning. It’s no secret that Durant wants to win a title in order to add his name to the list of the greatest players of all time. If the Warriors give him that chance, then going to the Warriors was the right decision. As much as the front office gets praised in Oklahoma City, they should’ve seen this coming. OKC had a big 3 with Westbrook, Durant, and Harden but they traded The Beard away. They fired Durant’s friend / coach, Scott Brooks. Kevin Durant is Top 5 in the NBA, and yet it started to feel like Russell Westbrook’s team towards the end. Durant did not like his cards anymore so he decided to get new ones.
I don’t understand the criticism towards Durant, but I do understand the criticism of the NBA and specifically, the owners. The owners knew the salary cap was going to go up. They knew the formation of a super team was possible. It finally happened, and now the fans are pissed.