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No Better Place

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Former Oklahoma City Thunder forward, Kevin Durant, is the hottest free agent on the market and free agency for the NBA starts July 1st. Thursday, Durant met with the Thunder to give his former team a head start on everyone else.

After the meeting, one of Durant’s friends came out with a statement saying that Durant’s decision is “90% made” to remain with the Thunder. Only an impressive sales pitch will convince Durant to go elsewhere. Reports from friends are not the most reliable, but in this case the report is not surprising.

With the Thunder, Durant has only made it to the NBA Finals. They lost to the Miami Heat. Durant has been in the league for nine seasons and is at the point in his career when he needs to worry about winning championships.

In the NBA, championships are the way superstars are measured, especially their records in the Finals. This is why James, who is the most skilled player in the NBA still has criticism because he is only 3-4 in the FInals.

Durant's desire to win fueled his free agent search to find the team he wants to play for and the best chance to win. After his meeting with the Thunder, they must have convinced him the Oklahoma City is his home and they have the pieces to help him win with Russell Westbrook, Steven Adam, and Victor Oladipo. They were also only one game away from the NBA Finals this year after losing to the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven. The only wild card is his relationship with Russell Westbrook.

There are only two teams that could change Durant’s mind, the Warriors and the Boston Celtics.

Coming off the best season in NBA history, 73-9, the Warriors have an easy pitch to Durant. With the Warriors he would have the opportunity to play with the two best shooters in the NBA, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. All of the pressure would not be on Durant and the three of them would be a great big three.

The Celtics are coming off of a rebuilding and have a lot of assets, especially their depth at guard. They will also have two lottery picks in the draft thanks to the Brooklyn Nets. This would allow the Celtics to trade for anyone the Durant would want to play with, within reason. The team is currently led by Isaiah Thomas. Thomas is reportedly campaigning for the Celtics and is even going to wear a Durant shirt during a meeting with him. The Celtics will be able to pitch longevity and flexibility.

When push comes to shove, Durant will end up staying with the Thunder. He has loyalty to the city and has a great team around him. This will guarantee that the Warriors and Thunder have a great rivalry for years to come. 

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What MLB team is the best?

In the CBS Sports Power Rankings this week the Chicago Cubs were dethroned as the top club in MLB by the Texas Rangers after a 12 week run as number one. However, in the ESPN Power Rankings the Cubs are the top team and the San Francisco Giants are number two. Therefore, there are differing opinions on who is the best team.

The reason why the Cubs have fallen from the undisputed number one is because going into Monday the Cubs lost six of their last seven games. Since that point the Cubs have won their last three games, getting back on track. Let’s take a look at the Cubs and Rangers to determine who truly is the best team in MLB.

Chicago Cubs

Even though the Cubs are 4-6 in their last ten games, they still possess the best record in MLB, by a half of a game. The best thing the Cubs have going for them is their run differential, a +170. This is 88 runs better than the next best team. They also have MLB’s best ERA, 2.86, and have scored the third most runs per game, 5.30. The stats point to the Cubs being the overall best team in MLB baseball. However, in one run games, the Cubs have a losing record, 10-11. In 2015, only two teams made the playoffs with a losing record in one run games, the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers. Therefore, the Cubs seem to be a dominate team, but underneath the surface they have work to do.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers only have one fewer loss than the Cubs so far this season. However, they are very different than the Cubs. The Rangers are the best team in MLB in one runs games with a 17-5 record. The Rangers also have a potent offense, scoring 4.96 runs per game, fifth best in baseball. Their weakness is their pitching, even though they have a team ERA of 3.96, 9th best in MLB. Starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis are both on the disabled list and have an ERA lower than 3.30. This makes people hesitate when marking the Rangers as the best team in MLB.

Even though the Rangers have injuries issues and are not as flashy as the Cubs, they are still my pick as the best team in MLB. In the longrun, their ability to win tight games will prove to be a huge asset in the 2nd half of the season and the playoffs. The Rangers pitching will get healthier and adding an arm at the deadline would not hurt. The Rangers are not significantly better, but they narrowly edge the Cubs for the best MLB team.

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Gio Gonzalez

The free agent to be isn’t off to the best start this season as he’s 3-7 in 10 starts this year with a 4.73 ERA. The National’s don’t seem too poised to offer the 31 year old a new contract after just paying Stephen Strasburg a seven year 175 million dollar contract. This comes one year after the Nationals sprung out 210 million to Max Scherzer and are in line to pay reigning MVP Bryce Harper. Gonzalez would be the perfect fit for an Orioles team in need for a starting pitcher and more than likely on a rental basis at the trade deadline.

CJ Wilson

The 36 year old is far from his Texas Rangers days but entering the last year of his contract he would come for the cheap for the Orioles. Wilson would add another veteran arm to an otherwise young pitching staff with the exception of Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez. The struggling Angels wouldn’t mind adding a potential younger prospect in return for Wilson either.

Mat Latos

Latos has been impressive this year if you’re only looking at record. The 29 year old is 6-2 on the year which is great but considering his 4.62 ERA and expiring contract the White Sox could view him as expendable. The Orioles could view Latos as someone who could not only help this year but someone who they could potentially resign in the offseason. The White Sox do have ace Chris Sale on the roster along with recent free agent signee Miguel Gonzalez further pointing to a Latos exit if not this trade deadline then in the offseason.

Doug Fister

Orioles’ fans should remember the name, Scott Feldman, because he is the reason we lost Jake Arrieta in one of the worst trades in recent baseball history. This Doug Fister move does scream Feldman all over it but Fister makes more sense than not for the O’s. Fister is an impressive 8-4 on the year with an ERA of 3.36. He’s also just a year removed from his amazing 2014 season with the Nationals where he went 16-6 and poised the best ERA if his career at 2.41. At age 32 the young Astros could be willing to rid of their savvy veteran for the right prospect and if so the Orioles are the perfect landing spot for a pitcher like Fister who could be someone they could resign in the off season on a very team friendly contract.

Jason Hammel

Sound familiar O’s fans? Good it should as Hammel the once Oriole turned Cub is a free agent to be this off season with a 10 million dollar club option. Hammel has been impressive on the year with a 7-4 record and an ERA of 2.58. It may cost the O’s a little more than they’re willing to give to land Hammel but he may be worth the rental/risk if this Orioles team currently sitting atop of the AL East feel like this is their year.

How many more years can you count on Chris Tillman anyway?

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