The NBA is ushering a new era of free agency that has middling players signing monster contracts and superstars teaming together to get closer to capturing a championship crown.

Gone is the notion that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

It has been replaced by another cliche: If you can’t beat em’, join em’.

OPINION: NBA Headed Down Dark Road

Kevin Durant has been the catalyst for this new ideology, where NBA stars no longer look to compete with the most talented players on opposite teams.


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Instead, they work in tandem with them.

Durant appears to understand the backlash, perhaps he even relishes it.

Known for his willingness to absorb criticism in order to sharpen his competitive edge, Durant told reporters Thursday that he understands why people are upset, he just doesn’t care.

“Obviously, people don’t like me right now, but it is what it is. I can’t please them all. I’ve got to still go out there and handle my business,” Durant said.


“They’re not going to get up at 9 o’clock in the morning and work on their game for me. I’ve got to do all of that on my own. I can’t worry about people on the outside. I’ve got to go to sleep at night, I’ve got to get up and I’ve got to perform.”

Arguably one of the top three players in the league (definitely top 5), Durant is joining a Warriors team that already boast a two-time defending MVP in Steph Curry, a two-time all-star in splash brother, Klay Thompson, and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Draymond Green.

We are all in favor of players being permitted to sign with whatever team they choose.

And Durant, to his credit, has earned that right after raising an Oklahoma City Thunder franchise to heights never imagined for a city that resides in the No. 43 media market and has no other professional sports.

The problem is that now that Durant has waved goodbye to OKC, rumors have begun to swirl about Russell Westbrook’s interest in being traded.

Five years ago, the Thunder had the best crop of young talent in the NBA. Durant and Westbrook were flanked by James Harden, and a young Serg Ibaka was beginning to establish himself as one of the best rim protectors in the league.

Harden new the score.

He didn’t want to play second, or sometimes third fiddle. He wanted to show the world what he could do as an individual, and that’s what free agency used to be about.


Not anymore.

And with the rush to create these “Superteams,” mid-market clubs like OKC, Phoenix and Utah are being squeezed out.

Minnesota and Milwaukee would be in the same boat had it not been for some savvy draft analysis and trades to acquire lottery-caliber talent.

Even Commissioner Adam Silver is against teams hoarding superstar talent.

“I don’t think it’s good for the league,” Silver told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. “Just to be really clear.”

Silver didn’t sugarcoat who he was making reference to in his comments.

“By the way, I don’t mean to be so cryptic. In the case of Kevin Durant, I absolutely respect his decision, once he becomes a free agent, to make a choice that’s available to him,” Silver said. “Having said that, I do think to maintain those principles that I discussed in terms of creating a league in which every team has an opportunity to compete, we do need to re-examine some of the elements of our system.”


It is fair to say that Oakland, where Golden State is based, is not a top market.

But if a team wins a championship, reaches back-to-back NBA Finals, sets the league record for wins and then signs a future Hall of Famer, you’ve got to assume there will be a concurrent spike in the franchise’s revenue.

That is to say, the Warriors cannot be called a small-market team anymore when their roster yields two of the most marketable athletes on the planet.

But the ripple effects of these squads saturated with All-Stars banishes would-be stars to irrelevance.

Eric Bledsoe has become one of the premier point guards in the NBA since joining the Suns in 2013. Last season Bledsoe averaged 20.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.  At 26, he is coming into his prime.

But Bledsoe will never bring glory to the Valley of the Sun.


It is much more likely that a team like the New York Knicks or another club seeking to build the next Superteam will swoop in and sign Bledsoe away, or stage a trade to acquire him.

“I don’t think you can villify the Warriors or Durant for the decision,” His and Hers Host Michael Smith said Wednesday. “I thought (Durant) had plenty (of talent) to win a championship in Oklahoma City.”

Durant’s new Dubs teammate, and 2015 Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala said Thursday that the Thunder should be sitting atop the NBA throne, not champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

“They were the best team last year in the league, in the playoffs. They were better than us,” Iguodala said of OKC in an interview with Power 105..1 “They were better than Cleveland. They were the best team in the playoffs. They should’ve won the championship.”

Iguodala, himself, was once a star for a struggling 76ers franchise before a trade hooked him up with a crop of young talent in Denver. The Nuggets set a franchise record for wins (57) in Iggy’s first year and look how far Philadelphia has fallen.

OKC seems destined for a similar fate.

A season after blowing a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals, it could be assumed that the Thunder would have an even bigger chip on their shoulder, motivating them to bring a championship home to the 45th media market.

Now we know that’s not gonna happen. And as Durant leaves town, the dominoes are beginning to fall.

By next season, the Thunder maybe banished to irrelevance. And more teams will follow their example on the dark road the NBA has chosen to travel.

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