When the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant to a supermax contract this past offseason, the deal was met with uncertainty. Durant will miss the entire 2019–20 NBA season while rehabbing a torn Achilles, and the Nets hope he can return to full strength next year.
Speaking on former teammate Serge Ibaka’s cooking show, Durant explained his free agency process and even mentioned playing in Europe. Let’s look at his comments and discuss the ramifications a move like this would have on the NBA.
Kevin Durant’s comments
On Ibaka’s show, How Hungry are you?, Durant said, “I really want to play overseas my last season. At Barcelona. I would, one of these days. That’s the second-best league in the world. EuroLeague games look fun. I don’t know for a fact if I’ll do it, it’s just me sitting on a couch, dreaming but it would be cool to experience it.”
We think if Durant is 37 or 38 years old he would still be able to put up quality numbers in Barcelona.
Would Durant really sign with a European club?
Although the growth of international basketball has made it a more common move in recent years, a superstar-caliber player going to a European league would be a huge statement for the global growth of basketball.
The most notable player fans may recall is former Atlanta Hawks forward and Stanford player Josh Childress, who played for the Greek Team Olympiacos from 2008 to 2010. Childress was considered a versatile forward when he moved across the Atlantic. The contract netted him a cool $32 million for three years, compared to the five-year $33-million deal from the Hawks.
Although Stephon Marbury has made a major name for himself in China, we have not seen a player of Durant’s stature ever seriously consider signing with a European club. A player of his abilities would instantly make that league must-watch TV.
With Durant’s current contract — over $30 million per year — we can guarantee a European team would offer him $40 to $50 million per year based on the amount of revenue he could bring in.
How would this move affect Durant’s legacy?
We think the notion of Durant playing in Europe is crazy based on the simple fact that he’d be vilified by everyone from fans to the media for leaving the NBA. The criticism would be especially bad if he left another tough situation where he doesn’t look like he’ll come out on top in the NBA.
This is why we think Durant wouldn’t seriously consider a move to Europe outside of financial reasons.
Will we ever see an NBA superstar in their prime play in Europe?
We think it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see a superstar-caliber player leave the NBA to play in Europe. Most basketball players who go to leagues with a lower reputation are trying to make their way back into the league.
Don’t expect something like this to happen soon. It may take a few years of USA basketball losing in the Olympics and FIBA Basketball World Cup before a most NBA players gain enough respect for European players.
Could you see Durant or another big-time superstar playing in the Euroleague?