When Durant’s Thunder visited Washington this week, fans were more subdued. Some even booed.
And the Wizards will tailor their free agent pitch next summer to Durant’s public sentiments.
Washington’s pursuit of Durant will be low-key and simple, a person familiar with the team’s outlook told Sporting News. Durant is not a bells-and-whistles type, and the Wizards seem to think that the lure of home and the presence of young stars Beal and John Wall, along with a new practice facility, will be enough to persuade Durant to come to Washington.
I’m not convinced this is the optimal strategy.
I believe Durant wants to be the type of person who objects to undue attention from an outside team. It seems like the right approach to take. But the extravagant flattery – even if a player tries to convince himself it’s unnecessary – can be appealing.
So, the Wizards must weigh Durant what Durant says vs. what he truly believes. It might be the same. It might not.
Parsing this will be an extremely difficult challenge.
The Thunder won’t make it any easier. As much as Durant might want to play with John Wall and Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook is better than both. Plus, Oklahoma City already the no-nonsense appeal locked up. Washington might benefit from recruiting him differently, though being his hometown is inherently different – for better or worse.
The stakes are high. Durant could elevate the Wizards from a pretty good team to a championship contender. They better make the right type of pitch.