By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
Rumors have buzzed and rotated around all-world Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant since the beginning of this NBA season.
Considered by most no lower than the second-best player in the NBA, Durant will for a second time be available in free agency in 2019. The last time he was available, Durant topped off the lineup for a 73 win team and proceeded to win the next two NBA championships with that team.
To put it succinctly, the eventual destination of Durant stands to make more of an impact in the league than any move not involving LeBron James, and there’s a significant chance James may still figure into Durant’s eventual decision.
Initially reported widely by Regal Radio alumni Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, host of “Scoop B Radio,” was the idea of a new big three forming in LA, likely featuring Durant, James and possibly New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Scoop spoke of the possibility of this even before James secured his contract with the Lakers last summer.
KD rumors have also had the mercurial superstar possibly heading to New York to help resurrect the Knicks. Regardless of how realistic KD in NYC is as an idea, if KD wants to leave his sweet life in the Bay Area only LA makes sense for him as a next destination. And you may think I’m endorsing a super team with LeBron, but I’m not just talking about the Lakers making sense for Durant..
Durant’s decision to possibly leave the Warriors for LA will most likely be a two-part decision focusing on business and basketball. Scoop B announced in September the rumor of Durant leaving the Warriors for the Lakers next season, stating on Twitter that “Just like LeBron planned his move LA a year or more earlier, #KD is doing the same right now. They want to form the best duo in the NBA and set up KD to be the face of the Lakers post-#LeBron,” according to a source he spoke with that is relatively close to the Lakers thinking.
From a business standpoint, it makes a lot of sense for Durant to spread his business outside of Silicon Valley and establishing a foothold for himself in the premier show business city in the world.
Like King James, Durant has a plethora of businesses establishing themselves in the West Coast and Bay Area, most involved in media in one way or another.
Durant has a stake in The Player’s Tribune, a player-generated platform that allows athletes to express their social issues on and off the court, similar to James’ media company UNINTERRUPTED. Postmates, an on-demand delivery service, and Acorns, a micro-investing app, are also under Durant’s investment portfolio, along with his newest media business Thirty Five Media, which recently struck a deal with ESPN to create “The Boardroom,” a show that ESPN stated in a press release will “bring fans behind the scenes of the modern boardroom, showcasing the evolution of sports business through the minds of athletes, sports executives and tech moguls alike.” To grow and expand as a mogul in LA would boost each of Durant’s interests exponentially.
If Durant has history on his mind too, it would be hard from a basketball standpoint to ignore the possibilities in becoming Laker and forming a combination between the arguably two best players of this generation/era.
Not to mention there’s all of the AD to Lakers rumors that are now the talk around the league — a story that was also first reported by Scoop B and talked about in depth recently with NBA insider Chris Sheridan on “Scoop B Radio,” who believes Anthony Davis will be either be with the Lakers, Celtics or Sixers if he does not commit to the Pelicans long-term.
A three-headed monster with James, Davis and Durant would guarantee them the highest championship odds in the league for the foreseeable future.
But we can’t count out another team in LA that can provide Durant the role of being the face of a franchise and leader of a team with young talent that’s developing well under a sturdy front office that’s not afraid to spend. The Clippers have made it known that they will use their efforts to bring in two max-level type players with KD and Kawhi Leonard topping their most wanted list.
Currently the Clips are also making noise in the NBA as a current top-six team in the tough Western Conference. In spite of the painful deconstruction of Lob City, promise has been shown in building with the solid, young core of rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and third-year post bruiser Montrezz Harrell with the veteran leadership and scoring pop of Lou Williams and Tobias Harris and underrated coaching of Doc Rivers.
The Clippers also have the connection of Jerry West in their front office, as respected an elder as there is in the NBA and one of the main contributors to getting Durant to Golden State — such moves have proven just how evolved the franchise has become under owner Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft and a businessman that KD can look up to in the technology field, than it was during the disastrous reign of Donald Sterling.
If Durant goes to the other L.A. team and that team also gets Kawhi Leonard, who has made public his interest in playing in LA, to pair up with him, you can make the case that Durant will get all that he wants as laid out here with the chance for even more, to become a true folk hero by providing the franchise with the worst overall history in the NBA with its first ever world championship.
Such a drastic development in his career should surely change the narrative of Durant’s legacy as a leader and player to whom championship success is naturally associated, and it can be done if the Clippers can provide the additional pieces needed long-term.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR