I can’t imagine what the other 29 teams are thinking right now. This is a historic day in NBA history; the day that brought what little parity the NBA still had to an end. Lets start with the Warriors, a 73-win team that boasts the back-to-back league MVP and the best offense in the league. Now, while they will lose quite a few key pieces, there’s no argument against them being the best team in the league next year. Their best lineup has always been the “Death Lineup”, with Draymond Green at center, except now switch Harrison Barnes for Durant. All those wide open three’s Barnes bricked during the Final’s, replace those with open Durant three’s. Defensively you can’t double any of those five players, Igoudala is the worst perimeter shooter of the bunch, but he still hit at 35% this past season. Adding on to this, with Durant showing elite defensive abilities this past postseason, this Warriors team will be able to dominate both sides of the ball. How can you attack Stephen Curry in pick and rolls when either Green or Durant will be switching out? The length, quickness, and IQ this team possesses is going to give other teams nightmares all season long.
Now comes the tough part, considering what options the Oklahoma City Thunder have. First off, as a franchise they must say thank you to the Portland Trail Blazers. If they had made the right choice and selected Durant over Greg Oden (and his terrible knees), they would still be in the cellar of the league. Jokes aside, Durant put Oklahoma City on the map. It is because of him that they have been able to compete for years, because of him that the city has been so electric. This fan base is one of the greatest in the league, and in all major sports. Losing the multi-scoring champ, MVP, and face of the organization is a devastating blow, but I expect the team and its fans to still show up hungry this coming season. All eyes will be on triple-double machine Russell Westbrook. With his free agency now looming Sam Presti will have to make a decision. Do you believe that Westbrook will want to stick around as the face of the franchise, or will things get a lot worse next summer when he scorns them as well? No matter how well this team fares at the start of the next season, Westbrook’s name will be floated around in trade rumors. The Thunder organization has shown they are prepared to trade their key players, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, and if it appears that Westbrook is planning to move on they can’t simply lose him for nothing.
Taking a look at the league, both for this year and the years to come, it’s hard to see a team not named Golden State making it to the Final. The same goes for the East, Cleveland just appears to be head and shoulders above the rest of its competition. Since 1999, at least one of the following players have been in the Finals; Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James. It’s safe to say that what little parity the league had left has been completely diminished. Next summer both Curry and Durant will be free agents, and both will command super-max deals. The Warriors hold Bird rights to Curry and will be able to exceed the cap to re-sign both, however this will cause them to rival the Cavaliers in tax payments. If I am correct in saying that the Cavs-Warriors matchup will occur in the Final’s for the next couple of years then the league will need to find a way to change the CBA. While that Final would create a ludicrous amount of revenue for the NBA, it could also draw a lot of attention away earlier in the postseason and throughout the season. If that Final becomes a regular occurrence it could cause other star players to create their own “super teams” to combat the two powerhouses. And with a further influx of broadcasting money to come, it will become easier for major markets to form these squads. Another key to this is that it’s tough to see the league add expansion teams. In a league without equality, adding teams that will have very little talent seems like a horrible idea, and that will be a tough pill to swallow for Seattle, Las Vegas, and possibly even Vancouver sports fans. As I said to start, today, July 4th 2016, is a historic day. Years from now, the NBA as we know it could be a completely different league, and pundits will look back to today as the first domino to fall.