DT Mailbag: Kickstarting a dynasty?

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This is a not-so-serious question, but it’s been burning inside me for a solid week or so. A couple friends and I were sitting around the table at for our weekly guys’ night, and as we drank craft beer and played a solid round of Catan, we discussed the slight possibility of civic project of raising money to cover the luxury tax issues that will most likely come in place for James Harden.

Would it even be legal to start a Kickstarter page with the sole purpose of covering the Thunder’s cost of luxury tax if we did sign Harden? I seriously think that OKC would muster up the cash to make four/five more years of watching a Thunder dynasty happen. I know that, for one, I would easily cough up twenty to fifty dollars just to watch Harden play for four years, and I have a feeling that many people in OKC would feel similarly. Also thinking about MAPS 6 as an option. — Wil N.

Big fan of when someone takes an idea of mine and emails it to me.

But seriously though, it’s actually a pretty interesting thought. Someone smarter than I can probably say officially, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be legal to do something like that. Kickstarter is technically for creative projects, but some consider the NBA art, so let’s stretch the rules a little.

(An aside on Kickstarter: I had a conversation with local comedian Ryan Drake recently and he made the interesting point that Kickstarters are basically the new Nigerian prince scam. Think about that.)

Here’s the issues with it though: I feel like the backlash would be horrible because if let’s say 50,000 Oklahomans gave 20 bucks, that’s a million dollars. How come we can’t raise that kind of money for charity or starving children in Africa, but can do it to help make a millionaire basketball player even richer and save a billionaire owner some money? Priorities, priorities, Okies.

Then again, we already tax ourselves for arenas because we want the entertainment and fun that comes with having an NBA team. So why not try and make sure that team is as competitive and good as it possibly could be? If we’re going to pay for our “entertainment” already by taxing on a building for them to play in, why not put our own money towards the product itself? I feel like I could justify this to myself as I changed the channel on a Feed the Children infomercial. (Relevant note: I’m a terrible person.)

The sad (or great, depending on perspective) thing is, if the penny tax were put on a ballot in November to fund the luxury tax for the next five years, I’m pretty sure it would pass. Extend it a little longer to hopefully raise a few banners in OKC? I think I know what I’d vote.

It’s certainly not the most talked about topic for Thunder fans, but I was looking at some contract information and I saw that Daequan Cook’s contract expires after this season. I was just wondering if it was possible to let Cook walk to free up cap space to re-sign Maynor, if the Thunder would even consider that option. I like Cook, and maybe he would take a pay cut on a new contract, but I think going forward Maynor is more important for OKC. What do you think? — Chad E.

Cook indeed is a free agent after this season (the only true one on the team), but his contract status isn’t going to really impact any of the other stuff. Because all of that conversation is taking place under the assumption that Cook would not be re-signed anyway. That’s a big reason I think Andy Rautins and Hollis Thompson are in camp. The Thunder are looking for future replacements.

Short of not re-signing Harden, nothing is going to “free up” space to retain Maynor. It’s simply a matter of if ownership is willing to just spend. If they’ll unload for Harden, maybe they’ll do the same for Maynor. Or, if they’re unwilling to pay for Harden, then it makes Maynor a much easier re-sign.

I believe the reason we have a herd of center prospects is that the Thunder are praying that one of them will prove to be a serviceable replacement for Perkins. If that happens, they amnesty Perkins and pay Harden whatever it takes. — Carl B.

Yep, that’s the situation summarized pretty succinctly. Though it’s not exactly in that order necessarily, because if Harden is extended, Perk still wouldn’t need to be amnestied until 2014-15 at the earliest and likely 2015-16.

I’m sitting here thinking about the Thunder, and being that I am a sophomore in college, it’s strikingly bizarre that this is a norm for me to be thinking about the Thunder around midnight on Thursdays when I should be doing other things. However,  tonight I just realized a DEFINING moment of last season, and one that should change for this upcoming season.

During the finals, after just showing us their potential peak, or close to its peak, against the Spurs in the west semis, they got floored. It was from nothing they did, but rather from what was going on on the other side of the floor. I caught this when I saw ABC showing footage just before the players walked out. LeBron was surrounded by the entire Heat team, giving an extremely passionate pre-game speech. His Heat immediately knew who their general was, and it showed on the court. In the other tunnel, ABC showed our Thunder being surrounding Derek Fisher, 8th man. The Thunder should have been surrounding Kevin Durant. KD should have stepped up and fulfilled the ultimate leader role: the general. KD is already a team leader, but if he reached that final step, his team would immediately know who to rally around. LeBron reached this level this year. His final step was to completely take hold of his team, off and on the court. Dwyane Wade is on the Heat, a superstar. The year before, Wade was looked to as the  general, while LeBron merely a on court leader in terms of production. For the Thunder, Russ and KD are looked to as on court leaders, both in ways of verbiage and production.

This season, Durant needs to completely, 100% usurp himself as The General this season. He needs to be viewed as the one to rally around, the one for whom once he gets hot, the other players step their games up. This year before games such as Game 1 of the Finals, it is Durant whom the Thunder are surrounding in the hallway. It is Durant who is telling HIS team that he is leading HIS team to battle and they need to follow him. Once Durant reaches this level, he will plant himself as the best player in the game over LeBron. I firmly believe that Durant’s on court skills are just the thinnest of slices below LeBron’s. However, it is Durant’s leadership that will quantify LeBron’s that it will more than cover for this slight. Therefore, I believe that this is The Year of KD, and he not only will become a general for his team, supplant LeBron as the best player in the game, and give Finals Game 1 peptalks, but also…lead HIS team to a NBA Championship. — Matthew R. 

KD has never been an extremely vocal leader. He leads by ultimate example, a quality that is better than empty rah-rah words. I agree that Durant should make sure he completely takes control of the emotional side of the game, but the Heat didn’t beat the Thunder just because LeBron gave a great speech before the game. There’s something to be said for it, definitely, but the game is played on the floor, not in the locker room.

Remember though: KD just turned 24. He just completed his fifth season. He’s still learning a lot about the game and himself. He’s learning how to lead, he’s learning how to take control of a team. It’s not exactly something you can just do. It’s something you have to build up to, something you have to earn. Durant has the respect of everyone in that locker room. They’d die for him (metaphorically speaking, I hope). He’s a tremendous person to follow behind and has as much to do with the revered “Thunder Culture” as Sam Presti or Clay Bennett does. Durant’s set the tone, he’s set the standard.

KD’s learning, improving and growing. He’ll get there. Don’t worry.

Have a question or thought for the next mailbag? Hit up dailythunder@gmail.com.