WASHINGTON — The #KD2DC movement officially ended (for this year, at least) shortly before noon on the Fourth of July, but it was long dead by then.
The possibility that Kevin Durant would actually return to the District to join the Wizards was likely never very strong, and it probably ended for good when his Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Wizards back on Nov. 10. Washington lost that game by 24 points, despite Durant missing the entire second half. It also didn’t bode well that Durant had previously stated he was unhappy with fans’ reactions when he came to Washington, so fans greeted him at that November game with boos.
That probably didn’t help.
Washington missing the postseason definitely didn’t do much for its cause, either.
But when reports emerged that the 2013-14 MVP wasn’t even going to take a meeting with the Wizards this summer, it became perfectly clear that he had no desire to play in D.C. Most realized it had been the case for a long time, but that was the official death knell for the #KD2DC movement.
Not surprisingly, many of the fans who had so yearned for Durant to join the Wizards felt scorned when he refused to even take a courtesy meeting with the team, but it was ultimately a good thing for Washington. The reports of his meetings emerged before July 1 even rolled around, giving GM Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards plenty of time to recruit other free agents while the six teams Durant had meetings with — Oklahoma City, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers — were left hanging in limbo as they awaited Durant’s decision.
For that reason, John Feinstein thinks Durant did the Wizards a favor by not entertaining them with a meeting, but he says Grunfeld didn’t make the most of the opportunity. Speaking with Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday, Feinstein said the blame falls on Grunfeld’s — and the Wizards’ — shoulders.
“Are you taken aback at all by how bothered people in D.C. are? They seem to be offended by this as if Durant owed them by coming home,” host Grant Paulsen asked.
“Yeah you know what, I think part of this is on the Wizards,” Feinstein said. “Because they made such a big deal for two years, about how their plan was to free up all this money so they could go after KD this summer, they were getting rid of all these contracts to make sure they could fit another max contract in and not lose [Bradley] Beal in the process, which they could have, by the way. And I think a lot of it comes from that, from the disappointment of realizing that not only was he not coming, but that he really had no interest in coming, ultimately. I thought, and this is gonna sound weird, he kind of did [the Wizards] a favor by not saying, OK, I’ll do a courtesy interview with them, because he gave them advanced notice. ‘I’m not coming. You need to go to Plan B right away.’ And yet, Ernie didn’t come up with a Plan B. The Plan B was to sign a bunch of backups, and that isn’t very encouraging for the Wizards. But fans need to understand: This isn’t personal. This isn’t Kevin Durant saying, ‘I don’t like Washington, D.C.’ He’s saying, ‘This is the best basketball decision for me, I’m a 28-year-old man.'”
The Wizards were reportedly in the hunt for Al Horford, one of the top players in this free agency class, but he eventually signed with the Boston Celtics.
They responded by signing a slew of free agents to bolster the bench, and the team will look fairly similar to last year’s incarnation. The 2016-17 starting lineup is expected to be identical to the one that closed out the 2015-16 season: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat. Nearly the entire bench will have been turned over, as will much of the coaching staff, but ultimately the Wizards core is the same.
Washington’s best chance at significant improvement next season is Beal being healthy all year, Wall’s jump shot improving or Porter and/or Oubre breaking out.
For what it’s worth, Feinstein would like to see Durant return to the Wizards eventually.
“So here’s my fantasy, and I know you’ll like this one, Danny,” he said. “He plays in Golden State for the next five years. They win four titles, or something like that. Then he comes back to Washington, the prodigy comes home, when the Wizards by then have maybe built a decent team, and wins the championship the way LeBron did in Cleveland.”
“Oh I’d lose my mind,” Rouhier said. “I’d lose my mind.”