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Toronto on trial and free agency notes

June 13, 2019

It was not a pretty picture. Kevin Durant tried his best, but he succumbed again. An Achilles injury, historically, is worse than a broken leg (see Paul George) and robs a player of his explosiveness (see Kobe Bryant, DeMarcus Cousins). If we abide by the precedents, we would not see the same version of Kevin Durant again.

As a basketball fan, regardless of allegiance, a sports fan who want the best in the game on the court, Prayers up.

Not a pretty sight

When Kevin Durant was down on the floor, clutching his heel, fans of Toronto were cheering, waving him goodbye. It got worse from there. Videos of fans jumping and jeering from Jurassic Park were spread on the internet.

In any shape or form, whatever the number of fans that were cheering, whether they were “true” Toronto fans or bandwagon fans, it is not a pretty sight. It is never right to cheer on someone else’s misfortune, even if it means giving you a better chance to achieve your goal. It’s not about which fan base you belong to, it’s about being a decent human being.

“Mob mentality” reflects the darkest part of humanity, and it is never a justification. A crime is a crime whether you do it alone, or you do it with a mob. The same applies to this situation.

Props to Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and other Toronto Raptors’ players and officials, including their arena announcer who actually shushed the crowd. They knew better. It is the hope that fans, Toronto or whatever city, would also know better from this time on.

Staying alive

Toronto is not just on trial for their fans’ behavior — their basketball team now has an overwhelming advantage. The ghost of Kevin Durant that has been looming the entire series is now gone. The most serviceable center of the Warriors — Kevon Looney, re-injured his already broken collarbone/shoulder.

Coach Steve Kerr needed to be creative in his rotation — his top bench players are now part of the starting five. There is a wide chasm of talent towards the next level, but they need to dig from that well just to put five warm bodies on the floor.

Kawhi Leonard has been playing like a real All-time Great. He had the killer instinct on full gear when he took over the game to take a six point lead. Too bad, basketball had to be a team game.

DeMarcus Cousins will not be treated too shabbily when they return to Oracle. That’s just a reality every NBA player has had to face. There will be home calls and if you needed it, then you should have cared enough to win homecourt advantage.

Toronto is on trial. They have great precedent — they have never lost at Oracle this season. That’s good for them, yet another point of pressure for them to win. The Warriors have had their moral victory in Game 5. They did not allow the celebration on the same night that Kevin Durant got injured. They would be forgiven if they lost at Oracle, but the Raptors, not so much.

Kawhi is already there, it’s his teammates that need to step up more. Advantages on paper will not win games, the Warriors are well aware of that. They have been on the other side of the equation for more than a thousand days. The game needs to be played, and the players have to be there.

Free agency notes

Is Durant’s status enough to scare off other teams from pursuing him? Latest buzz is that the teams from LA and New York, are still willing to take that chance. Lakers, Knicks, Nets, and Clippers are ready for the idea that they would not have KD before the playoffs, or even a season.

They have different resources for the meantime. The Lakers are gaining traction on Anthony Davis. The Clippers made the playoffs by themselves. The Knicks and Nets could get another free agent (Kyrie?).

The Clippers are reportedly preparing to move on from Kawhi Leonard, as it is becoming more likely that he stays in Toronto.

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