The monthly (or maybe bi-monthly) Kevin Durant to the Houston Rockets post

This is where half of you indignantly turn your nose up in faux maturity.  “We’re a month away from the start of preseason!  Why waste our time over some pipe-dream when we can enjoy the team we have?!?!”  Relax.  Take a deep breath.  This is supposed to be fun.  And half of the fun of sports is imagining the possibilities of new players on your team.  Especially when the potential new player is one of the three most talented players in the league.  So let’s have at it.

I’ve already discussed why the Rockets will, at the very least, be given token consideration.  As they do every year, they’ll find the way to manufacture the cap space necessary to make this doable.  And unlike the previous free agents they’ve recruited (Bosh, Carmelo, Aldridge), Durant is close with resident superstar James Harden.  There isn’t even any cause this time around for the “do other stars hate Harden/Howard” doubts we’ve tried unsuccessfully to push from our minds after the previous failed attempts.*  And that last post on this topic was before this became relevant:

Kevin Durant and Ty Lawson were AAU teammates!  I mean, really, how perfect could that be?  We already learned last year that AAU saves lives and is the greatest force for good in the free world.  But now this, another connection.  And it’s not even like Lawson and Durant played together but secretly hated each other, and carried over that hatred into their respective adulthoods while everyone else speculated they were friends.  They are still friends!  Here’s a quote from Lawson about Durant, from earlier this year:

“I’ve talked to him about it, but I probably can’t tell you what he said,” Lawson laughingly told when the Nuggets visited last month….

“We talked about it. Everybody going home and playing for their respective cities,” Lawson said. “It would be cool, especially playing with the people you grew up with. I grew up with KD. It would be fun to play with them on one team.”

Wait, that might actually be bad for the point I’m trying to make here.  Never mind.  But the point is, the two persons in questions converse in the present day.  And through Google, I found some other quotes that weren’t so interesting, but which also confirmed the two are still friends (ie: the discourse is of pleasant nature).  So there you have it, folks.  James Harden and Kevin Durant.  Friends.  James Harden and Ty Lawson.  Friends, (though that one tweet a year or so ago about Harden’s defense was very mean-spirited).  Kevin Durant and Ty Lawson.  Friends.  *Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.  Probably not the best of friends.  (But I have to seriously question the social aptitude of anyone who thinks that simply because Durant called Dwight Howard a p**** in the heat of the moment, it unequivocally rules out any consideration the former might have given to playing in Houston, where the latter is employed.  Is Dwight Howard, personally, unbearable to such a degree that one might avoid his team?  Possibly.  But one on-court incident, during a heated game, is not probative independently of such intent.  I bring this up because I’ve seen so many fans in different corners of the internet cite that moment as a “I guess that means Durant won’t come here!” proof.  Stop).

Where was I?  Yes, so it’s in play.  Also, Durant went to the University of Texas, and Houston is in Texas.  But that doesn’t necessarily help here.  While I’m on this topic, may I rant?  If you’re reading this, from any other part of the country, this is for you: the state of Texas is not some monolithic entity wherein all residents from each respective city share a mutual bond and affinity, through some common love for the Lone Star State.  We hate each other.  Houston hates Dallas, and Dallas hates Houston.  And no one cares about San Antonio because it’s ugly.  And everyone I guess loves Austin, but that shared perspective doesn’t impact their views on the other cities.  I’m from Houston, and I live in Austin.  I hate Dallas, as does everyone else I know.  I would rather, like, see some sports team from Iowa experience success than one from Dallas.  Understand that we’re not all cheering for one another out of some contrived notion of “Texas pride” as the rest of the country would have it.  I remember when Jason Lane, or someone or the other, caught the final out that sent the Astros to the World Series ten years ago, the Fox announcer said something like, “the entire Lone Star State is feeling pride right now.” (paraphrased).  No, they weren’t.  People from Dallas were probably rooting for St. Louis, just as I’ve rooted for the opponent in every exhibition featuring a Dallas team dating back to 1991, the first year of my conscious memory.

Okay, so let’s get to the specifics.  As noted above, I’ve delineated a compelling case as to why Houston is in the running.  I will continue to add to this case as the season passes and more quotes and grainy Instagram photos surface to the forefront.  But let’s get to the logistics for now.  There will be tons of moving parts for this to happen.  The first domino would have to be Dwight Howard accepting less than his true max of roughly $30million.  That will happen I think, because a) no one is going to give him that kind of jack and b) he seems to genuinely like it here.  If he doesn’t, goodbye Dwight, I think.  He’s not worth $30million at this stage.  But I’m operating under the assumption he comes back at a reduced rate.

Even with the increased cap, to fit Howard, Harden, Durant, and Lawson, all into our sheet, there would have to be a casualty.  Most likely Ariza.  You certainly could not bring back both Jones and Motiejunas, at their new expected rates, but might be able to bring back one of them, if subtracting Ariza.  But those types of permutations right now, this far away, are impractical.  The point here is that if there’s a decision between bringing back one of Motiejunas and Jones, or bringing back Ariza, I might make the seemingly counterintuitive move of holding onto Ariza.  Why?  Because Kevin Durant’s ultimate destiny is as a full-time power forward.  (I tweeted this the other day: “Kevin Durant’s ultimate destiny is as a full-time power forward.”  It wasn’t as profound as it had sounded in my head because I quickly realized everyone who watches basketball already is aware of this, except for Scott Brooks.)  Maybe you don’t want Durant banging there the whole game, so you eat up minutes with some young chap on a rookie contract, but at this stage, in this league, Durant should be playing the critical minutes of games from the ‘4’.  Especially on a team with serious rim protection, as the Rockets would presumably have, if bringing back Dwight and Capela.  The aggregate production from featuring Durant at that spot, with Ariza, far outweighs, I think, the benefit of adhering to conventional positional norms in resigning one of Jones/Motiejunas, just for the sake of having a “big”.  I mean, has any depth chart screamed 2016 more than Lawson/Harden/Howard/Ariza/Durant?  I mean, really.  We just saw the Warriors win the title with Draymond Green manning the position; and yes, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin etc. do still exist, but they would also have to worry with Durant on the other end, and that might far outweigh any damage done in the inverse.

But all of the above is a minor point because I don’t really need to sell you on Durant to Houston.  If it happens, we’d gladly take it in any form.


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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

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