ADVERTISEMENT

Could Kevin Durant end up in Portland?

ADVERTISEMENT

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant
Photo: fake images

Kevin Durant has a one-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, but based on the plethora of reports and leaks on the extremely fluid melodrama by Kyrie and its potential consequences, your employment is volatile. That uncertainty has spawned a multitude of options for Durant, but only the Portland Trailblazers have taken their sales pitch to Crazy men levels. He started with the Jusuf Nurkić quote, tweeting a photoshopped image of Durant-Lillard and adding an emoji that implied Durant was the missing piece. Damian Lillard shared the same image on his Instagram page. Lillard desperately firing his shot at KD isn’t nearly as efficient as the Golden State Warriors rallying the whole gang for their hamptons field to Durant in 2016, but this may have been the opening salvo.

Kevin Durant’s older brother tried to throw flame retardant in the grease fire, Lillard raised a kick, but the topic had already gained too much traction for a third figure to squash. Plus, the Blazers might make more sense in the current landscape. Durant gives Portland the fiery partner that can finally give Lillard an advantage against Golden State. After putting Golden over the top, doing the same with Steph Lite would save his reputation after he failed to capitalize on a stacked Nets lineup from 2021 to early 2022. Durant has been associated with just about every star point guard of his generation. . He has played the two-man game with Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, James Harden and Irving. Two of those three associations have gone sour. Durant would be better off going for the 2010 Point Guard Bingo with Lillard, who is built from Curry’s leftover mold.

Unlike Curry, Lillard has been freaking out during an era of player empowerment in which superstars have taken the lead in staging their own melds. Lillard’s push for Durant is the last full-circle moment. The Blazers already had a chance to land Durant in 2008. All they had to do was select him as the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

ADVERTISEMENT

Before the dawn of positionless basketball and court-spacing philosophies reigned supreme, Greg Oden fit the contemporary model of the franchise player. Durant was the first unicorn of this era. Durant was clearly the most well-rounded offensive talent, but while average scores were generally bogged down in the high 80s, the low 90s, a hard worker was the ideal choice. In 2007, the NBA was still a copycat league. Former Texas great LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden were an easy bridge to sell as the next Twin Towers duo.

Had Portland been able to take advantage of a healthy Oden, they might not be in the precarious situation they are in today. It’s been 15 years since the Blazers drafted Greg Oden over Durant and they still miss him. Durant’s virtuoso play would be a perfect fit alongside Lillard, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkić if he re-signs next month.

From the Nets’ perspective, Brooklyn has the most promising assets to offer. Anfernee Simons or her recent lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe and future picks are superior prospects to the protected scoops of Durant suitors hoping to be outside the top 20 for seasons to come. Sharpe has the potential to be the best flanker in this draft, but scouting reports on him are thinner than Chet Holmgren after he sat out the entire season at Kentucky to reclassify from the 2022 class.

Anfernee Simons is an ideal replacement for Irving and a future top-20 player who could thrive alongside Ben Simmons. That deal would only work as a sign-and-trade for Simmons, who is a restricted free agent this summer, though the Blazers are expected to match any offers he receives from interested teams.

Durant seems to have a latent affinity for the Toronto Raptors. However, Masai Ujiri will likely have to deliver some package that includes up-and-coming Scottie Barnes. Pascal Siakam is Toronto’s best player right now, but he and Fred Van Vleet make up what’s left of the core that defeated the (limp) Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. What they have more Durant may be enough good enough to get 50 wins, but that could leave Durant burdened with a feisty, smart, well-coached but outgunned playoff roster.

An offer from the Celtics for Jalen Brown and multiple picks would be tempting for Brooklyn, but would do Would Boston be willing to split an NBA Finals runner-up? They have a young core that plays crushing defense against 29 of 30 teams. Brown is still a healthy 25-year-old All-Star. Despite all the gifts of him, good health has not been good in the last three seasons. Though he remains a force to be reckoned with, Durant has missed 126 games since he tore his Achilles tendon in 2019. A Thin Towers lineup would be the biggest asset to an Oklahoma City reunion. While Durant, Holmgren, and Poku are a cool novelty, they don’t fit into Durant’s timeline. Durant back in Golden State is an unlikely scenario and after all the criticism he received signing with them after they lost in the Finals, he would never live chasing another title in Curry Town.

A Durant-Lillard pairing is the best of both worlds. There was a time when Lillard and Curry were thought to be peas in a pod. Since then, Lillard has been the Clyde Drexler to Curry’s MJ. He is 8-26 against Curry in the regular season, 0-10 in the postseason and four titles behind. What better way to finally make a career for the Warriors than by luring Durant to Portland as their champion sherpa? Raising the spirits of a starving basketball city during its nearly 50-year title drought would be a great way to get back on an even footing.

sniloans