The biggest story of the NBA offseason has been the trade request of NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Everyone is waiting in anticipation for a trade to happen. Movement from a player of his caliber could shake up the whole league.
Not much has happened so far. If anything, things have trended in the direction of Durant returning to the Brooklyn Nets to begin the season. However, the Boston Celtics recently emerged as a potential candidate. The news immediately drew interest, especially after the Celtics offered the Nets a trade package centered around former All-Star Jaylen Brown. The Nets declined the offer, hoping to acquire Marcus Smart and additional picks.
Everyone has been debating over whether it is a good trade for the Celtics or if it is a good trade for the Nets. What no one is talking about if it is a good trade for Kevin Durant and his legacy. Nothing is certain yet, but with other teams lacking interest or flexibility to trade assets, the Celtics acquiring Durant is a real possibility. That being said, the destination would not benefit Kevin Durant’s legacy. Here are the reasons why.
When Kevin Durant was a player on the OKC Thunder, he was respected and admired by fans. When he joined the Golden State Warriors, he lost some respect around the league. Warriors fans were happy to have a player as talented as Durant on their team, but he didn’t get the same love that other Warriors players received. Even though Durant was a two-time NBA Finals MVP on their team, Warriors fans had more respect for players like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
When Kevin Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets, everything revolved around him. Every decision made was done in order to keep Durant happy and on the team. However, the situation and embarrassment that the Nets dealt with last year swayed the front office to be more willing to risk losing Durant.
There is a chance that if Durant delivered the 18th championship to the Boston Celtics, he would receive as much love and admiration as anyone on the team. However, it is more likely that a player like Jayson Tatum would be the fan favorite over Durant. He is still a young talent that will remain in the league years after KD is gone.
Additionally, two of Boston’s favorite players are Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. Particularly in Smart’s case, the fans have had the ultimate respect for these players. Smart is the heart of the team. However, both players are rumored to be involved in any Durant trade that would take place. If the Celtics trade away one of their fan favorites in order to acquire Durant, he might not receive as much respect as he would prefer in a new home.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
When Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016, he received a lot of backlash. One of the reasons was that he was joining a team that won 73 games the previous season and was one win away from winning back-to-back championships. The other reason was that he joined the team that defeated him in the playoffs.
During the 2015-16 NBA postseason, Kevin Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder had a 3-1 lead over the Warriors before losing three straight games. One of the issues was that although they still put up impressive numbers, Kevin Durant and his co-star Russell Westbrook were less efficient in those three losses. People believe that if they were as effective as they had been in the first four games, they could have won the series and the championship series after that.
Durant’s inability to help his team win a championship and his subsequent decision to join the team that beat him sent out the wrong message to the league. It made it seem like he was making a weak move and that the only way for him to win a championship was to team up with his opponents. However, it could not be further from the truth; Durant is one of the most talented NBA players of all time, and he is definitely capable of leading his own team to a championship.
If he joined the Celtics, he would be doing the same thing all over again. The Celtics swept the Nets in the first round of the playoffs last year. To make things worse, Durant had one of the worst playoff series of his career.
In order to solidify his legacy, Durant needs to lead his own team to a championship. It cannot be a team that bested him. We have already seen him do that. At this point, Kevin Durant doesn’t have much of a choice of where he ends up, but it would not do any favors for his career to be traded to Boston.