Kevin Durant is going to eat yet another NBA offseason, isn’t he? The daily bleatings about what he wants, with whom he wants it, and how he intends to get it are about to resume, and frankly, who asked for that? I’ll tell you who: nobody.
Durant is being defined more and more as the guy who got what he wanted to his increasing detriment, tying himself to the hot mess that is the Brooklyn Nets and the even hotter mess that is Kyrie Irving. And now that the Nets and Irving are trying to contrive a post-nup that either breaks up this very non-super super team or doubles down on its inherent dysfunctionality, we are going to be subjected to updates based on nothing but repeated specuguesses from the poor bastards who have to cover this mutating nightmare to keep their salaries and medical benefits.
And let’s be frank, kids. This is the same old gruel being served up as the blue plate special in an offseason that needs other menu options.
The NBA has made a weird kind of performance art of its offseason dramas over the past decade or so, going back to LeBron James’s first big move, but while the characters tended to recycle themselves, there were always different circumstances available to keep them fresh. James alone has had three team moves by himself, which is a level of commitment to the bit that must be respected if not necessarily admired.
But this offseason looks a bit threadbare, excitement-wise. The new defending champions are the old defending champions, and the Warriors are just the repackaging of an old story, only without the fakery of demanding new heights for them to achieve. Those narratives have been done to a bland gray froth, the Warriors covered the spread in every one of them, and now they are reduced to “So now that you’ve made liars of everyone and called out all your critics as un-nuanced nimrods, what else have you got for us?”
James isn’t going anywhere. We can’t muster much excitement for John Wall’s next gig, nor Russell Westbrook’s for that matter. The draft was barely whelming, and none of the teams that picked in the top five are likely to avoid the lottery in the coming season. Zion Williamson is still a rumor looking for a second source, there aren’t any sexy coaching changes coming, and Adam Silver cannot offer us a Danny Snyder of his own to make ownership debates worth the bother. There will be summer league games you don’t care about between players who are heading for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna, a schedule reveal that will be like all the others (1,230 games, that’s it folks, nothing else to see here), and other than that an uninteresting void.
But the beast must still be fed, which means that we are getting another summer’s worth of Durant drama, like 2016 (leaving Oklahoma City for Oakland) and 2019 (leaving Oakland for Brooklyn). Every three years, it seems he gets to own an offseason, even though he claims not to want to do so. Each time, the central issue is what he wants out of his career, only this time his choice is intertwined with Irving’s contractual viperspit with the Nets, who made this bed and are now trying to figure out how to call housekeeping to change the sheets.
And because Durant only reacts to social media slights rather than creating actual news of his own, that leaves the field clear for what can best be termed Gasbag’s Delight. It has all the elements of great hot weather punditry—lack of information, the illusion that the principals are actually interesting on their own, the central soap opera element of seething dissatisfaction without apparent resolution, the repudiation of all the previous predictions of a valid replacement for the turgid Knicks, and the growing suspicion that nobody ends up happy.
Including us. It’s perfect. Can’t wait for 2025. It should be positively hellish.