The NBA is in full offseason mode, meaning players are taking vacations, coaches are taking vacations, executives are beginning their vacations, writers are dreaming about taking vacations.
But during the NBA offseason, it’s always fun to hear interesting tidbits pop up around the league, in this case, in a podcast. C.J. McCollum’s podcast, Pull Up, is an excellent listen for NBA fans that want to hear real stories from the actual players. This past episode, which will be linked here, he had Kevin Durant on as a guest. After bouncing around the topic to topic, they landed on favorite NBA cities to visit, and the answer may surprise some people.
C.J. McCollum: “Favorite cities to travel to? Because I need some new vacation spots. So let’s go United States. Let’s go teams we play against, then some places I need to go outside the country.”
Kevin Durant: “Obviously the New York’s, LA’s, it’s the best. But Phoenix, Phoenix is the one I like a lot. I like Phoenix, Scottsdale area is dope. Miami. Denver, actually. I like Denver a lot. It’s super chill.”
McCollum: “Denver’s a a good city.”
Durant: “Denver’s a fun city.”
First of all, Nuggets fans shouldn’t go over the top with excitement from this quote. It’s the offseason. C.J. and KD are just talking, having a good time, being transparent with fans. It’s nice to hear though. Two NBA stars, one a megastar, are hyping up the city of Denver. If nothing else, other players listen to the podcast and may be pleasantly surprised and intrigued by the thought of Denver.
But that’s no fun. Let’s connect the dots instead.
C.J. McCollum isn’t a free agent until the 2021 offseason. That’s three years from now, at which point Jamal Murray and Gary Harris will be just entering or squarely in the prime of their careers. It’s hard to see Denver targeting a player like McCollum who’s likely to be starter caliber and deserve starter money while Murray and Harris will have big money contracts.
Kevin Durant though? There’s an intriguing target. Durant’s next opportunity for free agency comes next year, 2019, after signing a 1+1 with the Golden State Warriors. For Durant, he’s had it good for the last two seasons, costing through the regular season, picking up two straight championships and Finals MVPs after leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has now won at the highest level, something he was searching for to satisfy him for awhile. It turns out though, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN, winning that ring didn’t satisfy him:
“After winning that championship (last season), I learned that much hadn’t changed. I thought it would fill a certain [void]. It didn’t.” -Kevin Durant
So, what does Durant want? In the same article, he mentions that the passion for the game is still burning:
“My love and passion for the game has [blossomed] because I understand that’s what it’s all about, and I’m pouring all of this [newfound thirst] into this game.” -Kevin Durant
It’s possible that, as tireless of a worker and as passionate for the game of basketball that Durant is, he may find more value in building his legacy somewhere else. Assuming Golden State wins another ring next year, that will be three straight rings for the Warriors and potentially three straight Finals MVPs for Durant. After that, the only people that will criticize Durant’s legacy are the ones that say he took an easy path.
Well, what’s a more difficult path than helping the Denver Nuggets win a championship for the first time in franchise history?
It’s not as crazy as one might think. Here’s what Durant had to say about the Nuggets at media day before last season, via Mercury News:
“Yo, they’re the second best offense in the league. They were second in the league in the assists, they can shoot the 3-pointer, they got passing in their bigs and they got small guards. I think they need a point guard that they really, really believe in because they were putting (Emmanuel) Mudiay on the bench sometimes because he was hurt and they played Jameer (Nelson) and they were trying to make the playoffs so they didn’t want to mess the rhythm up. I get it, but I feel like they need a stable point guard that they trust. And hopefully that’s Mudiay because I’m pulling for him. But I like their team, their offense, Mike Malone. Man, when Sacramento let him go, I was like ‘What are you doing?’ This dude is a guru.” -Kevin Durant
So he clearly thinks highly of Michael Malone. What about Nikola Jokic? Here’s a quote picked up by our own Adam Mares of Denver Stiffs:
“Man he’s different, he’s different. He’s still young, though. You gotta let him still develop and grow. But his feel for the game for a young player like that is different. The way he passes, the way he pushes the break, shoot the three, shoot the mid-range. Now it’s just a matter of consistently every single day just knowing the work habits and knowing how hard it is to lead your team every night to a W.
That’s something that every young player goes through, especially as talented as him. He’s going to figure it out at some point and he’s going to be a force for a long time.” -Kevin Durant
So, there’s the dots. They are connected. Durant enjoys the city of Denver, he values what Michael Malone says, and he appreciates what Nikola Jokic does. Those are three major factors when trying to recruit a free agent, and while it’s early, Denver should be making it clear to Durant that the thoughts are mutual. He’s an incredible player, and after next year, if he’s looking for a new city, there’s no reason it couldn’t be Denver. The Nuggets could free up enough cap room to give him whatever he wants. Adding him to the already solid core of Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris would put the Nuggets in the championship conversation out West. Because of that, the Nuggets should do everything they can to make it happen.
Does adding Kevin Durant make the Nuggets NBA championship favorites?
This poll is closed