From HC Contributor, Randy Faehnrich.
In the eyes of some, Kevin Durant was never suppose to be this good.
Coming out of college, Durant was a frail, lanky, silk-shooter who couldn’t even bench press his own body weight.
Like all great players though, his work ethic superseded his god-given ability, and Durant has become an unstoppable offensive force and a very formidable defensive presence.
And for that reason, as he currently sits at the peak of his career, the Oklahoma City Thunder should trade Kevin Durant by February’s trade deadline.
Yea, I said it.
With that notion in mind, OKC needs to be able to think quickly about what to do with one of the best players the franchise (Seattle included) has ever seen.
Sure, they can offer him an exorbitant amount of money and make him the highest — or one of the highest — paid players in the league.
OKC can continue to make Durant the centerpiece, doing so by eventually blowing up what the team currently has while trying to build around him through the draft.
And let’s not forget about Russell Westbrook, who’s due roughly $17.8 million during Durant’s year-of-reckoning.
If rumors swirling around Durant are true, then the 6-foot-11 forward will be bolting The Sooner State if the season doesn’t pan out to his liking.
The question then becomes thus; why take that chance?
The Thunder are in the driver’s seat, at least for right now.
OKC can trade Durant for a copious amount of players and picks, and if the Washington Wizards are where Durant wants to end up, it’s entirely possible they — as well as several other teams — have the pieces to make that happen.
Rookie head coach Billy Donovan is in a position similar to another rookie head coach, in a different league, 26-years ago: Jimmy Johnson.
Johnson executed arguably the greatest trade in sports history when he sent Herschel Walker packing to Minnesota.
The former Cowboys head coach cashed in on two of the plethora of picks he received, Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and future Hall of Famer Darren Woodson. You may have heard of them?
The NBA’s third-highest payroll would be able to mix-and-match so many assets it would undoubtedly save the room under the salary cap. .
There’s also the fact that Durant, at 6’11”, has already encountered two foot surgeries. Now I’m not a mathematician, but the track record on big guys with foot injuries isn’t very good.
Yes, most of those skyscrapers played more physically than Durant and were back-to-the-basket players.
There’s also the fact Pau Gasol (2006) and Brook Lopez (2011) have had the same injury and haven’t seen regression since.
Nevertheless, an athlete at Durant’s size, with his mobility and what he’s able to do with his frame only increases the chances of re-injury.
Durant had a screw inserted into the injured area of his right foot, and according to sports injury expert and certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts, “The inherent risk for re-injury is particularly high and surgery can’t guarantee anything. Hardware failure is a common occurrence and additional surgery could be needed.”
The immediate future will remain unknown, but the smart move by OKC is to load up on potential assets now before it’s too late.
And don’t worry Thunder fans, if the organization screws up, they can try again next year with Westbrook.
– Randy Faehnrich
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