The fact that Kevin Durant will be a free agent next summer makes the 2015-16 season the most important of his career thus far. What becomes of the season will presumably contribute to his decision to re-sign with Oklahoma City or play elsewhere.
Most popular in the premature Durant sweepstakes has been the Washington Wizards, who would offer Durant a chance to play in his hometown. Grantland’s Zach Lowe reminded us that the Miami Heat have every intention of pursing Durant in his column this week.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made sure it was known that the New York Knicks plan to be in the running for Durant as well:
I know for a fact that Carmelo Anthony has been and will continue to recruit Kevin Durant until the cows come home. I’m also hearing that Kevin Durant is giving the New York Knicks consideration.
Smith brought Kobe into the fold, but I’m just focusing on the Melo/Durant prospect for now.
To me, it makes sense for both parties, obviously more so for Carmelo Anthony, who desperately needs to draw in another elite if he wants any reasonable chance at competing for a title. Durant is a big fish but one worth chasing. Melo’s high-volume scoring duties would be significantly lessened by the presence of Durant. Not only that, but Durant is five years younger than Carmelo, so if Melo were to pull this off, he’d be willingly conceding the reigns of the New York Knicks to the younger superstar.
For Durant it would be interesting to have to adjust from one elite teammate like Russell Westbrook to Carmelo Anthony. Frankly, the type of wing/forward tandem Durant would be with Melo might be the likes of which we’ve never seen before. That, along with the simple fact that New York is still New York, has to be enough for Durant to at least consider this option when the time comes. Even if the Thunder don’t win a title this upcoming season, Durant will probably need to see an all-around beneficial situation and then some to abandon what he and Russell Westbrook have built in Oklahoma City.
Clearly the emphasis of a KD/Melo pairing would be high-powered scoring. Having Durant and Carmelo would warrant plenty of your-turn-my-turn sequences on offense, and a lot of times it would be enough to win games. They’d be interchangeable at the 3-4 positions which would make mismatches endless. Two of the best scorers of this era joining forces? If the two are still without rings come next summer, a team-up of this magnitude might be what they both need.
So many things can happen between now and next summer. It’s still way too early to predict Durant’s future, but it’s exactly the right time to start the process of evaluating his options in 2016.