The Kevin Durant Back-up Plan

Kevin Durant has offically signed a two year deal with the Golden State Warriors. I don’t need to tell you what that means. God bless us all. The other two teams that were reportedly in the running are now left with some offseason questions (specfically Oklahoma). The race for KD was reportedly down to the Warriors, Thunder, and Celtics. Here is what the other may look to do.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics may have missed out on Durant, but they’re off-season was still a resounding success. The team brought in 4-time all-star Al Horford and no.3 pick Jaylen Brown to a team that was already a 48 win team. Celtics should already be considered the second best team in the conference, but they do have one achillies heel– rebounding. Despite oall of Al Horford’s pros, rebounding has been an issue for him, and it’s been a big issue against Tristan Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers. If Boston wants to seriously compete against the Cavs, this problem will need to be addressed, and with about $15 million in caps space, here are some possible options:

1. Bring back Jared Sullinger

We won’t know until July 7th how interested teams are in Sullinger, but as of now their hasn’t been any reported interest amongst other teams. Depsite the horrible end to the season, Sullinger was one of the best rebounders in the league, and has shown that he can handle his own as an interior defender. As a third big off the bench who comes in to rebound, push the ball via outlet passes, and be a pick and pop options, Sullinger could be quite effective. Money will be an issue though, Sullinger will most likley be looking for a more secure contract, and Boston will be wary of using up cap season for next season considering the free agent crop avaliable. If Sullinger could agree to a two year 30 million dollar deal with the second year being non-guarnteed, then a Celtics reunion could be in store.

2. Explore possible trade for Julius Randle

Lakers now have Timofey Mozgov, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Julius Randle, and Luol Deng as potential frontcourt options. Randle is not a great defender, and doesn’t quite know how to use his body, but he’s a force in the paint and an effective face-up scorer. The rationale here is Boston bring him off the bench as a 3rd big off the bench who can come in, attack the boards, and be active on both ends. Celtics could offer Terry Rozier, R.j Hunter, and the 2019 Memphis Grizzles pick to make it work. That would help clear the backcourt jam while adding to a clear weakness.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The loss of losing Durant leaves the Thunder in a crippling state. Without their superstar, Oklahoma losses it’s appeal as a free agent destination, and with Westrbook set to hit free agency, Thunder will need to make a decision on what to do with him. Conventional wisdom tells you that the best thing to do will be to try and deal him, and try to land a good young talent in the process. Maybe after the Lakers embarassing free agent showing they’ll be more likley to try and save face by dealing their best young talent for Westbrook instead of risking losing him in free agency. Losing Durant would have be devasting nontheless, but walking into next season with D’Angelo Russel, Victor Oladipo, Julius Ranlde, and Domantas Sabonis as a young core wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

The other option for OKC would be to try and do everything in their power to keep Westbrook. Generational talent like that doesn’t come out of anywhere, and if you can convince Westbrook to sign the max at the end of the season, you can still be a very competitive team in the West. Westbrook would probably need to be surrounded by low usuage guys who can shoot, and defend. That most likley starts with potentially throwing a big offer sheet at the likes of Allen Crabbe, Harrison Barnes (if GSW wins Durant), or Moe Harkless. Let Westbrrok run crazy with a high 30’s usuage and average a shad under a triple-double on a mid 40’s win team. You’d then have to sell him on idea that this Oklahoma is the best situation for him, and adding another star could make them a contender again (i.e Blake Griffin, who has Oklahoma ties). If he agrees, then the Thunder could be back in business, if he refuses and bolts, the Thuner would have to live with losing out on two superstar free agents, and will go back to tanking for the next crop of stars.

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