Big Bucks on Astral Plane
At this point, we should probably just ignore Wade, Bron, and Bosh when they're asked about the future. James just messes with reporters, Wade's the good soldier, and Bosh is too polite to regularly let it smolder like he wants. For the record, on intuition and common sense alone, I figure James stays, Wade too but only after JO's replaced with quality, and Bosh might even be traded to Cleveland by next spring.
That said, I was struck by this Marc Spears Durant piece, which includes the following quotes:
"But after coming here and seeing the city, I love Oklahoma. The fans have been with me every night. What more can you ask for?"
"I like the nucleus that we have," he said. "I'm excited. I want to be here as long as possible. It's like family. I love being here. We're going to get better. We can get better.
"Hopefully, we will make the playoffs next season. That's what we're fighting for. We'll have a good chance."
Fine, maybe your standard clap-trap from a young, upbeat athlete not looking to make waves. But unless I'm just really stupid, Durant and Uncle Jeff will be looking for extensions next summer. So it's not like he's talking to thin air here. More importantly, though, is the emphasis on 1) OKC being a viable home for Durant's prime and 2) how impressed he is with the team around him.
The first point relates to both LeBron's supposed predicament, and possibly, the economy. I've written previously that James doesn't need New York or Miami except as lifestyle accessories; and hell, he can Gulfstream it out there whenever he feels like it, or buy a mansion for weekends. The Knicks, even the city itself in these troubled times, need brand LeBron, not vice-versa. And at the same time, he's elevating Cleveland, turning it from the butt of jokes and flaming rivers into the home of King James. Durant has more of an uphill battle in this respect, since despite his college hype he's been all but invisible this season. Still, this can't last much longer, and if next season the recognition comes, and the fans flock, by 2010 OKC might not be a joke any longer.
But more importantly is Durant's conviction, even good-natured shock, and just how brilliantly-engineered this team's future is. Sam Presti is smart. Sure, being surrounded by bikinis and beaches is nice, as would time spent in a national spotlight you don't have to earn. And yet we've seen that the Knicks can tumble into oblivion, even before the economy collapsed. Presti will not mess up when it comes to developing this team and its players. You could say similar things about Pritchard. If team markets are becoming more and more negligible, and the perilous state of all things financial makes the astute GM more precious than ever, how far are we from Presti being what keeps Durant in OKC?
P.S.: Because I am serious about those Amazon recommendations, the current ones: Eros Plus Massacre is the book on Japanese New Wave and such; The Street of Crocodiles an obvious influence on FreeDarko's prose style and worldview; On the Rainbow Road, the cheap way to some essential Southern soul; Sherman's March is my favorite documentary ever, except for maybe his Bright Leaves; The Wizard of Odds is FD itself; All Things Must Fight to Live will change your life.