Ultimately, no one really knows for sure what Kevin Durant will do in free agency, but that’s not stopping anyone and everyone from trying to figure it out.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star is about to hit NBA free agency for the first time in his career, and for teams with a lot of salary cap space and a need for a superstar, Durant obviously is a perfect fit.
However, one of the NBA’s most tapped-in reporters — ESPN’s Marc Stein — says the early indications seem to point toward Durant staying with the Thunder … for now.
Stein did caution that it’s still very, very early in the process — the Thunder were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors on Monday night — but it certainly makes the most sense for the star to hang in OKC.
“Most of the league’s best-placed observers on the subject continue to see Durant’s most probable choice as staying in OKC for the short term,” Stern wrote, reiterating the notion he also shared in a story last month detailing the San Antonio Spurs’ potential interest in the swingman. “That would mean signing a two-year deal with a player option after Year 1 that allows him to return to free agency in July 2017 … alongside Russell Westbrook.
“Get used to that idea until the hard evidence at our disposal forces a revision.”
Financially, staying with the Thunder on a short-term deal makes all the sense in the world for Durant. As Stein points out, Durant could make a projected $25.9 million in 2016. If he’s allowed to hit the market again next year, his service time, plus a likely spike in the NBA’s salary cap, would put him in the $35 million-per-season neighborhood, which obviously is a good neighborhood to be in. If it all goes down like this, next summer should shape up to be just as interesting. Durant’s Thunder co-star, guard Russell Westbrook, is scheduled to hit free agency next summer.
Of course, that’s not to say things can’t change. For example, the Celtics reportedly already know the players or types of players it would take to lure Durant to Boston.
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