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If Kevin Durant does leave Oklahoma City, signs point to Golden State being at front of line

PBT's Kurt Helin explains why Kevin Durant should stay with the Thunder for at least one more season. If he does, he could stand to make an extra $85 million.

The most likely outcome of the Kevin Durant free agency bonanza this summer is he signs a one-plus-one two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, then we have this same discussion a year from now.

However, Durant is opening the door to other teams — San Antonio and Miami will get to make pitches, along with Oklahoma City. Other teams are still trying to get their foot in the door. One thing about Durant’s free agency is almost always the same, whether it’s the off-the-record buzz around the league, or in the reports that came out Friday:

If Durant leaves Oklahoma City, Golden State is the most likely landing spot.

Marc Stein of ESPN put it best.

But the Warriors, sources say, increasingly believe their chances of convincing Durant to leave the Thunder after a successful 10-season run were enhanced significantly by the fact that Golden State lost the NBA Finals to Cleveland in seven games despite taking a 3-1 series lead.

The Warriors would have to relinquish a number of looming free agents, including Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, and at least one more significant contract -- such as Andrew Bogut or Andre Iguodala -- to create sufficient salary-cap space to sign Durant. But as ESPN reported earlier this week, Golden State is “all-in” on a Durant pursuit.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports echoed the same idea.
But more than any other rival suitor, the Warriors have Durant’s attention, league sources said. Durant’s public and private criteria for the free-agent selection process have pertained to a singular focus: the chance to win titles immediately.

This is not new; it has been the sense around the league for a while. If this is a “basketball decision” for Durant and about winning titles, you can see why he would go to the Warriors. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Durant? Even with the players they would lose that team would be a better one than the one that came within a game (and a Green suspension) of back-to-back NBA titles.

The question for Durant is will he be comfortable as the No. 2 guy on a team — the Warriors are Curry’s team. He is the fan favorite, and that’s not changing.

Durant would get the same ridiculous criticism LeBron James got when he went to Miami, that he had to get help to win. We tell our superstars in all sports to put winning first, and when they do we can’t complain about it. Nobody wins a title without help. Nobody. Ever. Even Jordan’s Bulls teams won 55 games and went to second round of the playoffs when he went to fantasy baseball camp for a couple of years — that was a good team he made great.

The addition of Durant to the Warriors makes them great (they would just have to prove it).

But the smart money is still on Durant with the Thunder, at least for one more year.