Time to dig out the crystal ball
Ahh, Spring. The time when the flowers bloom and hot takes soar through the clouds as predictions fly. Stanley Cup. Triple Crown. Baseball’s grind. And now, finally, the NBA Finals.
Now that we (sadly) have reached the end of the NBA’s Western Conference Final, we can truly set our sights on the final round. We got the matchup everyone said we would, and deep down, the one that everyone wanted. The Warriors have their chance to be the greatest team, at least statistically, of all time. LeBron and the LeBronettes/Cavs, once again have the chance to finally validate all that Believe-land-ing that happens in Ohio.
So what should we expect? You’ll never believe this, but I have some opinions. Three of them in fact. And a bonus one about the fallout from the Western Conference Finals. Let’s get to it.
1. Everyone you know is rooting for the Warriors
Welcome back to the “who is everyone rooting for?” segment here of The Psychic Is In (in case you haven’t realized, I like these sort of set features. Makes my “job” a bit easier.) Previously, we covered why everyone would be rooting for Joe and the Sharks and against Crosby and the Pens.
Final rounds always seem to boil themselves down to a hero and a villain. Sure, regional and historic rivalries will always affect the rooting interests of certain clusters of fans, but we usually get a good guy and a villain, at least to one degree or another. This year, though, both the NBA and NHL give us a study in stark contrasts.
Yet again we have the great heel of the league, in this case James, battling to solidify his legacy and silence the haters once again, and maybe, finally, once and for all. If LeBron can finally bring a championship to the poor people of Cleveland, it would be tough to argue against his biggest supporters. Countless playoff appearances. Championships in two cities. Finally ending the Cleveland drought. It would be a great story, if only anyone actually wanted it to happen.
LeBron has dug his own grave, so to speak, and turned many one-time supporters against him, myself included, with his social media nonsense and his general demeanor of arrogant aloofness. But if he wins, all the critics will just be haters who can’t deal with how good the man is.
On the flipside, we have Curry, the golden boy of the NBA. The right mix of underdog and nice guy, and just incredibly fun to watch.He’s going for history, and he has the league, and the youth, behind him. He’s got a very appealing and entertaining family, he’s almost so likeable that I start to dislike him.
But only almost.
Like everyone else, I’ll be rooting for the Warriors.
2. The Warriors finally get to celebrate in Cali
I’m giving up the ghost of my actual series prediction at number two, so you know I must have a doozy of a #HotSportsTake coming up.
Last year, the Warriors closed it out in six, celebrated in Cleveland, then noticed it still smelled like champagne in the locker room come the fall. It will be different this time. Not because of who is celebrating, but because of where they’re celebrating.
I think the Warriors will win it, but it will take the whole series. This is probably LeBron’s best chance, given the war the Warriors just survived and the relatively easy, if unexpectedly lengthy, trip that the Cavs had to the Finals. The Cavs are healthy, and Curry at the very least doesn’t seem to be 100%. I think Golden State can win, but I think they’re in for another war. We’ll have to see what they’re made of.
At least their fans will get to watch the celebration in person this year.
3. Klay Thompson will be your MVP
So, full disclosure, this isn’t as surprising as perhaps you’d expect it to be. Thompson was the best player on the floor for much of the WCF, and he’s always had the tools to be a superstar in his own right, if not for sharing the backcourt with the best shooter of all time.
But my guess is the Cavs have a plan for Steph. I know he’s a tough guy to plan for, but usually, you can shut down 1 guy if you really try, or at least hold him back. It’s going to be on Klay to lead this Warriors team, and I think this is the year we finally really learn how good he’s going to be.
4. Special bonus prediction: Everyone calm down, KD is not going anywhere
Let’s just get this out of the way. Everyone say it with me. Kevin. Durant. Is Not. Leaving. Oklahoma. City. (At. Least. Not. This. Year.)
It just doesn’t make any sense. ESPN, TNT, Yahoo and the like keep talking about it, in order to keep this Summer’s free agency from being a snoozer, and good on them for knowing how to keep the eyeballs and clicks coming. But let’s look at a few things here:
A-Russel Westbrook still has one more year
I get that this dynamic duo has yet to be able to get it done, but they literally came as close as you can to beating the Warriors in the WCF without, you know, beating the Warriors. Sure, this is just the latest chapter in Russ and KD failing at the highest level. But the two seem to be friends, and they’ve been through a lot. Why would KD not want to try again, especially when he can do it just for a year?
B-The salary cap is rising this year, sure, but it’s rising even higher next year
The salary cap for the 2016-2017 season is projected to fall somewhere around $100 million, according to USA Today.
It’s supposed to get even higher for the 2017-2018 season, however, somewhere between $105 million and $120 million, again according to USA Today.
In the NBA, the maximum salary any player is allowed to make is a share of that salary cap figure (more on this in a second). So, if the cap is going to grow between the 2016 offseason and the 2017 offseason, why wouldn’t Durant (age 27-going-on-28) wait a year to signa long multi year deal and get even more money.
C-He can earn a higher percentage of the cap starting in 2017
As we mentioned above, there is a maxium player salary in the NBA. That salary is equal to a share of the team’s maximum salary for the season. Just how large that share is depends on how long you’ve played in the league.
As of now, Durant’s been an NBA player for 9 years. That means as a free agent, he can earn 30% of a team’s total cap. But, next year, when he’s played in the Association for a full decade, his potential cap share jumps to 35%.
In conclusion, I don’t want to talk about where Durant is going in the Summer of 2026, unless its on vacation, and I really don’t even want to talk about that. I don’t want to hear about trying to win a championship, or wanting a bigger market, or different states and their income tax laws (the dumbest conversation in sports), or anything like that.
He can take another shot with Russ with a one-year deal, with very low risk. He can earn A LOT more money after another year.
So why would he go anywhere?