Earlier this afternoon Kevin Durant announced via his ghost-written apology and deceleration on his plan to play with the Golden State Warriors for the next two seasons. After a brief period of Independence Day hallucination and panic, I have two initial reactions about the decision:
1) This team is going to be very good at basketball
It’s obvious, but it still needs to be stated for how ridiculous this is. The Warriors are taking a 73-9 regular season team and adding a Top 3 player in the league to the rotation. For some reason Golden State was blessed with having the greatest shooter of all time, who was paired in the back court with a Top 10 shooter of all-time. Now to add onto that they have a 6’11” slim reaper who has range just has vast as the splash brothers who can shot over every one on the court. Somehow the Warriors pulled off having the best 3 shooters currently in the league.
It’s easy to see how good the Warriors are going to be. We don’t need any 538 article stating how good the Warriors can be with adding Durant, we know it. In fact the only usefully 538 article we need right now is for Durant to help him figure out the best place in the Bay Area to buy a burrito. We don’t need to know the X’s and O’s. It’s simple. On offense the Warriors are better than you. We are now in the reality were Curry will drive to the basketball, dish it out to Thompson, who will in return give it Durant for the 3. Hell, if Adam Silver made screens illegal for only Golden State next season I’d still bet on the Warriors to lead the league in points per possession.
Next season the Warriors will have a line-up that consist of Curry-Thompson-Durant-Iguodala-Green. That’s already the greatest lineup an NBA team has ever had. It’s going to be better than any 5-man the United States throws out in Rio this summer. Even coming up with a starting line-up consisting of players from the 29 other teams, I had trouble coming up with one that would compete. Would a Westbrrok-Paul George-Leonard-LeBron-Anthony Davis team be favored against the Warriors? Maybe, but it’d be close.
2) What’s the point if the Warriors win 80-games each and Win 2 straight championships
It’s is pretty remarkable how we got here. For the past two-years the Warriors were the golden child of the NBA. A team that valued every player on their roster. Coached by an affable 5-time champion. In a city with a great fan-base who had been oppressed by incompetence and mediocrity for too long. With Steph Curry leading the revolution it seemed like the Worlds team was the Warriors.
But things have quickly changed since April. Starting with a vain venture capitalist owner who declared to the world he is smarter than everyone, “We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things. We’re going to be a handful for the rest of the N.B.A. to deal with for a long time .” It became easy to root against a smarmy billionaire and any organization he held stake in. Then came Draymond Green’s inability to not hit people in the groin. A collapse and a disappointing Finals performance. And now this. An undeniable stacked team, where it would now be a shock if the don’t win two consecutive Finals. They are the undisputed villains, the new heel for the NBA. Is Kevin Durant ready for the kind of national scrutiny?
The new CBA is how we got here. Last year the salary cap was $70 million, but thanks to a new $24 billion television deal next season the salary FLOOR is set at $84 million. With projections seeing the cap going up past $110 million within the next five years. That’s why this off season we have seen seemingly ridiculous contracts for Timofey Mozgov (4 years $64 million), Jon Leuer (4 Years $41 Million) and a player like Mike Conley who has never even made an all-star team sign the highest contract in league history (5 years $153 million). The new CBA has made the super-team more possible than it has ever been in the past. And with CBA negotiations happening again next off-season, you wonder if owners will try to find a way to nix this.
But for now this is the NBA we are living in. In the NBA players have more control than any other sport, which is as it should be. But despite it being Durant’s decision and that he should not care at all what me or any one else thinks this decision makes of his character, this actually happening still just feels….odd. I don’t know. It doesn’t remind me at all of LeBron’s decision. For starters there’s not enough gingham. This would be like if LeBron joined the Celtics in 2010. The NBA is now a 12-month league, with even some of my favorite NBA writers asking if the NBA offesason is more exciting than the regular season. It’s more of a soap-opera than it has ever been in the past. For now, that $24 billion television deal is looking pretty smart. There’s no way even the casual fan won’t be tuning in in late October to see how much this team will function. But if they run through this league like the 1996 Monstars for the next two years we will be watching a predictable league without much drama. Leaving me and many others to wonder what’s the point.