Kevin Durant’s next team has finally been identified, and helpfully for everyone, it was by Durant himself.
It’s the New Seattle SuperSonics, and he wants to be the guy to do it, or something a lot like it.
And maybe, if we’re going to fantasize stridently enough while ignoring NBA rules and regulations as well as construction timetables and the constraints of the human body, while he still has some value as a player.
Okay, never mind that last part. But the rest of it sounds perfectly delicious if you happen to be Kevin Durant, and fascinating even if you’re not.
In the wake of Seattle being colonized by the National Hockey League to begin operations in 2021-22, and minutes after the Golden State Warriors earblocked the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-105 (Durant, 25/10/9 in 34 minutes), Durant was asked about the NBA potentially returning to the place that spawned his own professional career, and whether he’d want a piece of that action.
“Hell yeah, of course I would,” Durant told ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “No matter if it's Seattle or any team, just to help young men grow, or help men in the next phase of their lives as basketball players. Why not? Especially somebody who's gone through it and been through just about everything as an NBA player, outside of getting traded, I've been through pretty much everything. I would love to give back to an organization, the knowledge that I've gained. So hell yeah I'd be interested.”
[RELATED: Durant sympathizes with Seattle fans]
Okay, but the NBA has no plans for immediate expansion, none of the seemingly vulnerable franchises seem eager to sell while the league is churning money like all the ATMs on earth on crank. Memphis and New Orleans are most often mentioned for relocation, but neither Robert Pera nor Gayle Benson has said anything other than they want to keep their teams where they are.
Still, if Durant wants to become a franchise operator or even just a well-moneyed face, why wouldn’t he want Seattle? Or to give it the correct phrasing, why would he want anything BUT Seattle? I mean, it would be new, it would have no troublesome recent history to overcome, and he would own his own town, for God’s sake. His own freaking major metropolitan city.
But here Durant plays coy.
“It's just the fact that I played there and I get so much love there,” he said. “More than any city in the league probably. Look, it would be a great story, but it would be a lot of hard work. It won’t be easy because it's Seattle. After the press release and the first couple of weeks, it’s straight to work. I know people want to tie me into Seattle a lot, and I love being part of that, but I'm not just waiting for that opportunity. Any opportunity that comes around where I could become (part of) an ownership group or a front office or anywhere I could just help the team as of right now in my life I would go for it, but who knows what will happen at the end of my career?"
In truth, that’s probably how he would get in, but Seattle is still the most fertile ground for his desires. The excitement of a hockey team, owned by billionaires Jerry Bruckheimer (television and movie entrepreneur) and David Bonderman (investment banker), has Seattle energized in ways that it wasn’t even when the Sonics left for Oklahoma City 10 years ago.
(And while we’re at it, a Hollywood player and a financier – what ownership group does that remind you of?)
With expansion at least five years off by most estimates and with Seattle probably needing a new arena for the basketball team while the hockey team is going to play in a revamped Key Arena, whatever dream Durant has would be delayed until after he was done playing. This would undermine at least one part of the grand illusion.
Still, the idea of Durant as a savior redux in Seattle would bring his presence in the Pacific Northwest full circle, and who doesn’t like narratives to end so neatly? All it would take is some more civic will, a place to build an arena that won’t totally screw the public, and about $4 billion to cover franchise acquisition and construction costs.
Clearly, there are still a few billionaires who’d want a taste of this play, and Durant, though not a billionaire himself, could certainly throw in a few tens of millions of earnest money so he could sit close to the head of the table.
All to be both an entrepreneur and the King of Washington . . . the good Washington. Frankly, neither nor anyone else could afford to pass this up.
But that’s what Chris Hansen said when he thought he was going to get the Sacramento Kings five years ago. If only he’d have been Kevin Durant.