Why the Spurs make the most sense for Durant
With LeBron James almost certain to stay in Cleveland this summer, the biggest name hitting the open market come July 1 will be 6-foot-9 megastar Kevin Durant.
The 27-year-old forward appears keen on weighing all his options when free agency opens next month, reportedly setting aside meetings with at least three teams.
While every team in the league would become instantly better with the former-MVP on their roster, the San Antonio Spurs are the one franchise that makes the most sense for the lanky scoring machine.
After signing LaMarcus Aldridge to a lucrative contract last summer, and re-focusing their energy to the defensive side of the ball, the Spurs appeared set to make an extensive postseason run in 2015-16. Instead, Gregg Popovich's crew had difficulty hanging with the younger, more explosive Oklahoma City Thunder, falling in six games in the Western Conference semifinals.
There's no questioning San Antonio's ability to stop opponents - especially after posting the best defensive efficiency in four years - but the Spurs' lack of shot creators ultimately led to their demise.
Durant is one of the league's best at creating his own shot, and would be more than capable of bailing the Spurs out when they need it most. Durant finished second in the postseason in fourth quarter scoring, using his long frame and high release point to stifle defenses with the game on the line.
Oklahoma City finished second in the regular season in offensive efficiency, and much of that can be credited to Durant's ability to score the basketball. Adding Durant may not automatically make the Spurs the NBA's best offensive team, but there's a distinct possibility that San Antonio would become the league's preeminent squad on both sides of the ball.
While the addition of Durant may appear to cause a logjam at small forward for San Antonio, the Texas product is more than capable of sliding to the four, as many of Oklahoma City's best lineups featured Durant at power forward. A frontcourt featuring Durant and Aldridge would be a nightmare matchup for just about every team in the league, and could give the Warriors' "Death Lineup" a run for their money.
San Antonio will remain a title contender no matter what, but landing Durant would not only instantly fix the Spurs' holes on offense, it would also be enough to catapult them past Golden State in a loaded Western Conference.
Fitting Durant into the salary cap won't be an easy maneuver, but general manager R.C. Buford is no stranger to getting creative with the cap.
With over $79 million in salaries already committed to next season, the Spurs will likely have to dump Boris Diaw and one of either Tony Parker or Danny Green to fit in a max-level deal for Durant. It's certainly not an ideal situation, but it's a relatively small price to pay for one of the league's top five players.
While it's true that Durant can earn considerably more by staying in Oklahoma City, the possibility of losing Russell Westbrook next summer should be enough to cause Durant to steer clear from the only franchise he's ever known.
Golden State appears to be another attractive destination, but their cap situation is even stickier than the Spurs, and will likely need to rid themselves of three key rotational players to fit him under the cap. While Durant is undoubtedly a terrific player, he also doesn't solve the Warriors' biggest weakness, rim protection.
If Durant is genuine about basing his free agency decision purely on basketball, he will wisely leave Oklahoma City this summer and take his talents to South Texas.
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