Tony Dejak/Associated Press
While the Golden State Warriors changed the course of NBA history by signing Kevin Durant in July 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers once dreamed of teaming the former Oklahoma City Thunder star with LeBron James.
Former Cleveland general manager David Griffin recently revealed to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe that the team explored signing Durant.
“I don’t believe you can dream big enough in the NBA,” Griffin told Lowe. “You have to go through the exercise.”
Adding the former scoring champ would have required a teardown of a championship roster. But knowing there was a possibility the 2014 NBA MVP could join the 73-9 Warriors, Griffin wanted to explore every option.
Ultimately, though, Durant signed with Golden State, which proved costly for Cleveland.
He helped the Warriors defeat the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals in each of his first two seasons in the Bay Area, winning Finals MVP both times. After losing to Golden State in six games in 2015 and winning the title in seven games in 2016, Cleveland took just one contest in two series against Durant and Co. the last two years.
Ironically, beating Golden State in 2016 may have cost Cleveland any shot it had at landing the superstar—although it’s not clear how seriously he would’ve considered signing with the team.
After the Warriors blew a 3-1 Finals lead, Durant said in 2016, per SFGate.com’s Connor Letourneau:
“As they lost, it became more and more real every day. You start to think about it even more. To see if I would fit. Then once I sat down with these guys, everything that I wanted to know about them they kinda showed me. But we don’t have to talk about it because they didn’t get the job done and they came after me and who knows what would’ve happened? I guess you could say I’m glad that they lost.”
Warriors star Draymond Green started recruiting Durant immediately after that collapse, and the rest is history.
It’s worth wondering if James would still be in Cleveland had Griffin landed Durant. With his Cavaliers appearing to be nowhere close to dethroning the Warriors, James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.