Just a few weeks after the conclusion of the NBA finals, the Golden State Warriors made a blockbuster free agency acquisition so grand that it has changed the dynamic of the entire league. The Warriors signed superstar Kevin Durant, who previously played for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant is regarded by many as the best small forward in the NBA other than Lebron James.
For the Warriors, Durant is another piece of the real life dream team the organization has been assembling for years. The 2015-2016 Warriors had the winningest season of any team in NBA history, powered by stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. All three of the stars are returning for the 2016-2017 season, and with the addition of Durant, the team seems almost unbeatable.
With his move to the Warriors, Durant is leaving behind teammate, superstar point guard and close friend Russell Westbrook. Durant and Westbrook have been something of a dynamic duo for years with the Thunder and have made several playoff runs, including an NBA Finals appearance in the 2011-2012 season.
When Durant signed with the Warriors, he just texted Westbrook to tell him the news. After spending eight years together, this was taken as very insensitive. He has been criticized for not discussing the topic with Westbrook in person. In an article by ESPN, Westbrook was quoted on Sept. 23, saying, “I haven’t talked to [Kevin Durant].” Their relationship has certainly been damaged by the ordeal, and the media and fans are anxiously awaiting the Nov. 3 matchup between the Warriors and the Thunder. This will be the first time since the signing that Durant and Westbrook are on the same court.
With a projected starting lineup of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Zach Pachulia, the Warriors have been projected by NBA analysts everywhere including CBS sports, to be the best team in the NBA. When looking at a such a star-studded lineup, it is impossible not to wonder: Is this fair?
While many criticize the situation and say the outcome is not, the truth of the matter is that everything about the transaction was within rules and, in fact, was aided by the recent league-wide salary cap increase. Every team in the league had an opportunity to sign Durant, but he was set on going where he would have the opportunity to win a championship. There is nothing wrong with that.
Even still, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been quoted expressing his discontent with the signing. Regarding the situation, he was quoted in an ESPN article saying, “Just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that’s ideal from the league standpoint.”
Silver has expressed desire to reevaluate the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in order to improve the distribution of the league’s best players and thus the competitiveness of the league. As it stands, the CBA has allowed both the Warriors and the Cavaliers to rise a notch above all other teams in the league creating two “super teams” that have been in the NBA Finals for the past two years. This does not embody the spirit of the NBA, as it creates an uneven playing field.
Durant’s move to the Warriors has changed basketball by creating what may be one of the best teams in NBA history, breaking up the devastating Durant-Westbrook combination and sparking discussion of changing the way the league is run.
Only time will tell if the Durant and Westbrook’s relationship will ever be the same, and it will be interesting to see what the league does to prevent such influential transactions from taking place in the future.