Monday, July 4, 2016

Kevin Durant to the Warriors: The Story of the Year

No Longer Conjecture
With the news that Kevin Durant is joining the runner-up, a few quick thoughts, because this is seismic...

> From a sheer quality of life perspective, there's just a quantum leap from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area. It's just off the scale, honestly. Leaving money on the table in the short run and the higher cost of living doesn't come into play when you make seven figures... let alone eight.

> The people (idiots, honestly) who feel that Durant is less of a man for leaving an organization that was up 3-1... um, it's not as if the team is the same behind him. Serge Ibaka is gone to Orlando for Victor Oladipo. Stephen Adams isn't going to just keep doing dirty work without offensive touches. Billy Donovan is going to coach differently in the second year, and that bench is going to get different minutes. There's also immense volatility in terms of injuries and player development, let alone playoff seeding. Expecting the world to be the same 10 to 11 months from now is absurd on its face, which means that Stephen A. Smith is required by law to jerk his knee just so. Seriously, Smith is just the worst.

> How much will Durant change his style of play to go along with the Warriors? Ball movement, cutting and screens is the reason why, along with the phenomenal shooting, that this has been a dominant offensive outfit, and while Durant has been a willing and capable passer in non crunch-time situations, the fourth quarter has been another matter. He's talented enough to win playing Heroball, but in the long run, it's anathema to teamwork, and on a club with three guys who are already in the league's top 15 players (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green), that's not great.

> In the final analysis for Durant as a person and player, though... you are telling me you would not want to be in a final five of Curry, Thompson, Green, Andre Iguodala and yourself? That's taking the Death Lineup and swapping the weakest link for one of the five best players in the world. From a sheer eyes standpoint, I want to see it, even if it's not a sure thing to work.

> Here's the hidden bummer factor that could make this all go south: injuries and uncertainties. Curry was banged up at the end of the year and is no guarantee to age gracefully. Thompson and Iguodala have had back issues. Green is volatile and might not react well to becoming fourth banana on the court when he was their only star to play well in Game Seven of the Finals. Iguodala is the oldest of the group and had back issues in the Finals. Going to the benchies, Shaun Livingston's injury history is terrifying, and Leandro Barbosa is older than imaginable for his speed of play.

> As for what Durant leaves behind, um... before we break out the crying towels for the good people of Oklahoma City, can we remember for a hot minute what they did to get their team? Can we also remember that instead of being creative to keep the best young nucleus in the NBA together, they gifted James Harden to the Rockets for no good reason at all? And that no one in their right mind goes to that city before Durant puts them on the map, and that the only reason they are there is because their dirtbag owner moved them there after promising he would not? The people of Seattle, a truly great city with an NBA history that should never have been lost, are playing the world's tiniest violins for Thunder Fans today.

> And for everyone who seems convinced that this will make the Warriors an even better team than last year's outfit... um, slow your roll. They aren't winning 73 games again; they'll settle in the 65 to 70 range and lose games on purpose for rest, like the Spurs. Durant replaces Harrison Barnes, expected to sign elsewhere now, and yes, that's a big leap forward. But to afford him, the team is likely to renounce their rights to Festus Ezeli, and maybe also move off Andrew Bogut. That's a trade you make every day of the week, given Ezeli's hands and Bogut's injury history and free throw woes, but it does not make them better defensively, and it also tears away at their depth -- which was already going to take a serious hit as the league chipped away at dominance. That is the nature of dominance, after all; it can only erode.

> The biggest guy on the hot seat (OK, second hottest: Durant is going to be vilified for no good reason) with this move is, in my opinion, head coach Steve Kerr. He's lost assistant Luke Walton to the Lakers, and he's now in a situation that no coach, frankly, wants to be in; win everything or be judged a failure. People are talking about the Warriors now as if multiple championships are a requirement, rather than success, and true idiots are probably thinking they could go undefeated. The franchise has taken a bold and strategic step to improve a team that was already fantastic; it's not a move with a lot of precedent.

> Finally, this. I don't know why the world decided it was time to hate on the Warriors in the middle of the Finals last year, and why LeBron James became heroic again after jockeying from Cleveland to Miami and back, while killing his coach and becoming the de facto GM. None of that stuff strikes me as adorable, and people who want to talk about Curses are people who need Story more than Game; they bore the urine out of me. But so be it; the Warriors Turned Heel, because sports fans are idiots who would rather be watching wrestling and probably secretly do, because childhood. Whatever.

Now? After you sign the biggest free agent prize in five years to join a team that broke the single-season record for wins, and became the first team in the Finals to lose a 3-1 lead (albeit under highly dubious conditions thanks to NBA Fixer In Chief Adam Silver)? They might as well all grow twirly Stephen Adams mustaches and all start kicking guys in the junk, because the hate is going to be intense.

Unless, of course, they win, because Heels Don't Win, at which point idiots will talk about how Durant was a visionary and Kerr was the only coach who could mesh all of this together and Curry and Thompson and Green only care bout winning and gosh we always loved Iguodala anyway.

See why I only want to watch Game, and hate Story?

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