The 2016 NBA offseason is going to be extremely interesting mainly because the NBA salary cap will increase from 70 million dollars per team to 94 million dollars per team. Also with the inception of the max contract, all NBA teams can offer the same amount of money to a free agent. While certain people dream of magic tandems forming in the offseason that bring their favorite NBA team to an NBA title the undisputed prized free-agent in the class of 2016 is Kevin Durant.
Since arriving from Texas as the 2nd overall pick of the then Seattle Supersonics, Durant has established himself as one of the elite players in the NBA. Durant has been named to the NBA all-star team 7 times, All-NBA first team 5 times and was NBA MVP for the 2013-14 season. Durant could easily turn an NBA franchise around yet his 2016 free agency has similarities to LeBron James free-agency in 2010.
Similarities between Durant's and James's Free Agency
The first similarity that both Durant and James had was they were the best free agent on the market. While the 2010 free agent class had high profile players like Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Amare Stoudamire, James was the most coveted player. The 2016 free-agent class does have some interesting prospects such as Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard the class as a whole lack the star quality of 2010 but Durant is still the most wanted.
The second similarity between the Durant and James free agency is once they both reached free agency neither of them won an NBA title. While personal accolades will help a player make millions of dollars that still will not silence critics. For a player to be able to legitimize himself in the NBA and be considered in the pantheon of greats a player needs to win a title. By being able to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy any superstar player receives the all-important notch on their belt to be considered one of the greatest ever. LeBron who was anointed the ‘chosen one” when he was still playing in high school received flak from critics because he has not won an NBA title during his first run with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though Durant has not received the amount of criticism as James, Durant still needs to claim an NBA title to help solidify his career.
What will be a deciding factor in Durant's decision
The third similarity will be that winning an NBA championship will help influence the free-agency choice of Durant. When James boldly stated on national television in “the Decision” he was taking his skill set to South Beach, James was forming a Big Three with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. While there James did win two NBA titles and finally got the ring some say he was destined to claim. While Durant’s decision will be more low key than James 2010 decision, the ability to win an NBA title will influence Durant’s decision. Three teams that Durant is meeting with are the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs won the 2014 title, Warriors the 2015 title, and the Thunder were one win away from making it to the NBA finals. It seems by these choices Durant wants to be the final piece to the championship puzzle and be the foundation of a dynasty.
Some predictions can be made such as when Durant makes his free-agent choice social media will explode and a seismic shift to occur. Another prediction is that the team Durant chooses will be an NBA title contender. Yet what will not be decided would be how many if any titles Durant wins.