The Kevin Durant rumors are going to leak into the summer and no matter what we hear, nothing will be official until KD signs his new contract. There have been whispers from high up that Durant intends to sign a two-year deal with OKC that would allow him to opt out again in one or two years. There has also been chatter about Durant jumping ship to go play with someone in the Eastern Conference.
One big rumor has Durant actually letting the Boston Celtics know who they need to go get to lure him away from the Thunder.
At this point, it’s really anyone’s guess if KD is at all entertaining the idea of jetting. And if that is the case, good luck figuring out where he might go.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 31, 2016
Odds are he does stay in OKC. It’s the team that drafted him, the only team he’s ever know, he has a strong bond with star point guard Russell Westbrook and just this year the Thunder were one win from getting back to the NBA Finals. It might be silly for him to leave, but then again, perhaps Durant doesn’t see himself winning in Oklahoma City. Or maybe he likes the idea of joining up with other stars in a more versatile market – or specifically finding an easier path to the Finals in the Eastern Conference.
Everything needs to be considered, so let’s break down his top options with some logic and find five spots we could see KD playing come the 2016-17 NBA season:
We know the Celtics have been eyeing a massive move to land a marquee player that can push a well-managed, well-coached and a nicely built competitive squad over the top. KD surely would do that, but per reports, his agents have supposedly sat down with the Celtics and suggested they go out and get some specific players. If they get who he wants, he’d then consider signing with them.
Durant has also gone public about not wanting to go on a big free agent tour, though, so it’s tough to completely buy this, as this is even more of a power play than merely interviewing with interested franchises. However, per the rumor, KD wants to form a “Big 3” like LeBron James has done twice and it sounds like he sees Boston as the best spot to make it happen. That’s debatable, but consider the Celtics already are in a good place, it’s hard to argue too much.
Los Angeles Lakers
Durant apparently loves him some Los Angeles and we’ve seen numerous reports stemming all the way back to last summer that tie KD to L.A. Is it a realistic landing spot? Financially, perhaps, but if Durant wants to win now, the Lakers probably aren’t the ideal setting. Unless, of course, they get him exactly the supporting cast he covets and guarantee him a commitment toward building an immediate title contender.
Buzz: Kevin Durant’s love for LA is real, but it just doesn’t make sense right nowhttps://t.co/876rJW33oG
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 2, 2016
But Durant has that right now in OKC and he knows it. Wouldn’t it be better to just stick in OKC, get a little bit better and try one more time next season? Probably, but there isn’t much like the draw of being a part of the Lake Show. Whether Durant is serious about the move or not, it’s been reported that the Lakers are at least expected to try to pull it off.
Golden State Warriors
If you can’t bet’em, join’em, right? I don’t know if Durant is so chill that he’d ditch his current team for the team that just ousted him in seven games, but if he doesn’t see a way around the Warriors, he may decide joining the champs is the best way to become a champ. LeBron James did something similar and LaMarcus Aldridge tried to do that in a sense last summer, so it wouldn’t be a crazy move.
It’s a tricky proposition for Golden State, who would have to shed a ton of salary cap, not to mention actual bodies, to make it happen. Of course, it doesn’t make too much sense financially for Durant and the Dubs would be breaking up a very cohesive bunch and suddenly assuming a guy who has never won anything will prolong their success. It’s a risky move on both ends, but one all NBA fans probably secretly salivate over.
There is always the though of “going home”. Durant is from the D.C. area and going to the Washington Wizards would certainly fulfill a potential dream of playing in an easier conference, which would really make LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers his only yearly obstacle to getting to the NBA Finals.
Doing that for his hometown team would feel pretty good, while guys like John Wall and Brad Beal are no slouches to go to war with. The Wiz are getting a little long in the tooth down low, but otherwise could quickly be built to make title runs for years. It all depends if the Wiz can entice KD enough and if going back home is something he’s seriously considering. There is also the added note of former Thunder coach Scott Brooks taking over the team, but recent reports suggest this is not a likely move for KD. We’ll see.
Oklahoma City Thunder
For now, this looks like what is probably going to happen. It’s not going to be a long-term deal and he won’t be with the Thunder forever, but with the CBA opening the cash floodgates next year, it makes more sense to sign a short-term deal Durant can opt out of now, rather than set up shop anywhere for more than 1-2 years.
Most insiders see the most likely scenario at present to be Kevin Durant staying in OKC on a two-year max deal with an opt-out after Year 1.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 31, 2016
In this scenario, KD stays loyal for a two-year pact, gets paid, and gives the OKC fan base one or two more years to chase a title for. By the time next year rolls around, he will be able to be a free agent again, at the same time both Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are slated to hit free agency. That’s where the players arguably hold the power and they can all go their separate ways or maybe even take a pay cut to land one more big star to put them over the top.
The Thunder are already close and have a good team. Durant knows that. He just can’t be sure if this will be his absolute best chance to win and get paid all of the money. Look for him to take a little time to think it over, but ultimately the smart move is to stay on a short-term deal and then think about a long-term plan next summer.