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Opinion: Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City should not be pursued

The Thunder should leave history in the past and focus on the future

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

In the last 48 hours, we have heard reports of Kevin Durant asking for a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Durant, who currently has four years on his contract, is dissatisfied in his current working environment and wants out.

There are many reasons that have likely factored into Durant’s decision but winning must have played a huge part in that decision. You cannot win a championship with a co-star who is absent for extended periods of time. You cannot win a championship without a well-stocked pick cupboard.

The competitive situation in Brooklyn is pretty poor and that is not to mention Irving’s desire to be a Laker. It was reported earlier today that Kyrie Irving is dead-set on playing for the Lakers and will do what he can to make that trade happen. The Nets’ window is closed and Durant is keen to move on.

There has never been a trade situation like this in the NBA. Durant is one of the best players in the league and is under team control for the next four years. Those two factors mean that the Nets can set an asking price like nothing seen before.

Trade suitors will need to have a huge amount of assets to satisfy the Nets’ wishes. We are talking about a trade package involving a young star level player, a productive role player, multiple first round picks, pick swaps and other recyclable contracts that can be moved later down the line.

Oklahoma City can offer such a package and bring Durant home for the next four years of his career. It is a scenario that has been much discussed over the last few days as it appears to have benefits for both parties.

The Thunder add Durant and elevate themselves into title contention. For Durant, he would have the opportunity to add to his legacy and define what he stands for. Kevin Durant is currently viewed as being mercenary. His championships have been derided as being unearned. A ring in Oklahoma City would change all of that.

It is a tempting possibility to think about but I do not think that Kevin coming back to the Thunder would be wise. The Thunder’s approach to team building is vastly different to what it was six years ago.

During the Durant-Westbrook Era, the Thunder’s approach was more hierarchical. The Thunder had their two stars who commanded the offense and everybody else were supplementary players who fit in around them.

Today, the Thunder operate by committee. Everybody is involved in the offense and the ball goes to the hot hand. There are no preset scoring options on the team. You can clearly see in how Oklahoma City approach the game; Coach Daigneault’s men play unselfishly. There could be teething issues when it comes to slotting Durant into a motion offense when he is more comfortable playing isolation basketball.

The other question with Durant is whether the off-court baggage is justified by his talent. Durant is not always an even-tempered, steady individual. Kevin is known to be a moody, sometimes surly character who can ruin morale in the team’s locker-room.

Golden State, by all accounts, were miserable during that last Durant season. Durant’s manner was icy and disrupted the Warriors’ natural, easygoing tendencies. The Warriors are a franchise who run on joy, the coaching staff were worn down by having to manage a player like Durant.

Brooklyn let go of Kenny Atkinson so that they could appoint Steve Nash as their head coach. Atkinson, assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, is well-liked and highly respected around the league. Kenny Atkinson came in at the ground level in Brooklyn and turned the Nets into a playoff team.

At the time, it was a baffling decision. The hiring of Steve Nash is even more nonsensical. Nash, a two-time MVP, had previously worked as a part-time consultant for the Golden State Warriors.

I love Steve Nash, he is one of my favourite point guards ever to play the game, but he had no real qualifications to become coach in the NBA other than being friendly with Kevin Durant. Durant liked Nash and so Steve Nash was appointed.

While Durant is extremely talented, I do not want a player on the Thunder’s roster who causes so many off-court concerns. Winning championships requires every single player on the roster to be united and focused on one goal. You cannot win if everybody is focused on looking out for their own interests.

I am well aware that Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players in the world but he is not someone I think the Thunder should pursue at the moment. Oklahoma City have a great young core of players who have the potential to win championships down the line, I do not see the point of adding a volatile character into the mix.