In June, I concluded that despite the dire luxury tax
implications, the Golden State Warriors would be able to retain their four
All-Stars of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The solution to the financial conundrum would be found in
the enhanced revenue streams generated from the team’s new arena, the Chase
How much has changed since I wrote that article; the only constant in the modern NBA is that there is no constant. Durant ultimately teamed up with Kyrie Irving to lead a new Eastern Conference top-tier competitor in the Brooklyn Nets. Durant is one of the more self-aware superstar professional athletes, so it came as no surprise that in a recent sit-down with the Wall Street Journal, he validated what many basketball fans felt of the KD era in Golden State – he ultimately felt out of place amongst the original core three of Curry, Thompson and Green.
I know how much everyone loves trade rumors and player movement, but for me, maybe because I’m old now(?), there’s just something to potential finality that is so comforting. I want to be done. I want to keep the same team and watch it improve at the margins through chemistry and internal development. I came to hate the unrest in recent years of keeping an eye towards the next star. Before it surfaced that Chris Paul and James Harden hated each other, I mused repeatedly that my greatest regret was Paul’s age – I wanted to see the two of them, along with Capela, play out their primes together. The Rockets now have the potential finality I described after agreeing to terms with Eric Gordon on Friday evening in a deal which will pay him to be a Rocket for an additional three seasons. Now the comfort in the finality I’ve described solely hinges upon the fact that the team I cover has a roster which can compete for a title. I would not be pining for boring summers otherwise.
The tiers here were quite laughable with Chris Paul ranked lower than both Clyde Drexler and Steve Francis, even assuming value is assigned by the player’s performance while with the Rockets rather than overall career accomplishments. The Clyde designation is at least somewhat defensible given the nostalgic revisionism associated with his contributions in the title run (we remember him as being a lot better than he was), but Francis was at no point in his career better than Paul. Assuming of course that we are indeed talking about professional basketball and not some streetball exhibition outdoor. Francis was a lot of flash with minimal substance. He could fill up a stat sheet, and a highlight reel, but forget about busting a zone. (I’m serious. Oldheads like myself will recall the trouble the Nash/Dirk Mavericks gave Houston because they refused to play man defense and our guys couldn’t figure out the zone. There’s a quote floating around somewhere on the internet where Francis brazenly questions the masculinity of the Mavericks for their unwillingness to guard him and Cuttino Mobley straight up, failing to consider the irony captured on the scoreboard.)