After signing with Golden State to chase a championship with the Warriors, who are coming off one of the most dominant two-year runs in NBA history, Kevin Durant has gotten a lot of criticism.
None of that criticism, however, has come from Ken Berger.
“I don’t begrudge a guy, whether it’s Carmelo Anthony opting for money over winning at times in his career, or whether it’s Durant opting for teaming up with other stars over money – I never try to get involved in criticizing players for those decisions,” the CBS Sports NBA insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Those are their decisions. This is their career. But in terms of the dynamic of the sport, even though this cap spike was a one- or two-year aberration, it has potentially historic implications.”
The Warriors won an NBA title in 2015, played for another in 2016 and are coming off the best regular season in NBA history. Who, in the West, has a chance to beat the Warriors in a seven-game series next year? The Thunder, who just lost Durant? The Spurs, who are now a year older? The Clippers, who have never reached the conference finals?
“I think 10, 15 years from now, we’ll look back and however many championships this Golden State team wins, we’ll say to ourself, ‘How in the world were they able to assemble that team? It defies logic,’” Berger said. “They were able to take a very small window and an aberration in the system and turn it to their advantage.”
Granted, championships are not won on paper. They are won on the court. LeBron James, upon joining the Heat in 2010, spoke of winning upwards of eight championships. They won two.
How many will the Warriors win? Time will tell.
“Nobody knows,” Berger said. “Miami didn’t win as many championships as they thought they would when they got the Big Three, and who knows what’ll happen with Golden State. But if they do (win several championships), I think it’ll be a landmark in the history of the league in terms of looking back and wondering how the heck did that happen?”
Berger also weighed in on the curious case of Mike Conley, who last week signed a five-year, $153-million contract – the richest deal in NBA history.
Conley, 28, averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 assists per game last season.
“Memphis is between a rock and a hard place there,” Berger said. “If they want to keep Mike Conley, they have to pay him the max or somebody else will. That’s where you see a deal of that magnitude for a player who’s a very good player but certainly not worthy of the richest contract in NBA history. The good news is that the money is going up so fast and furious that he won’t be the highest-paid player in the league for long. Somebody else will come along very soon and pass him.”