NBA Execs See Durant In OKC For The Long Haul
OKLAHOMA CITY - There’s still a season to play, but the buzz around Kevin Durant’s impending free agency can’t stop. Durant has been informally recruited for most of the past year and you can bet that will ramp up in the final year of his second NBA contract. That said, NBA Insider Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has informally polled league executives at Summer League and reports that most expect Durant to stay in Oklahoma City when he hits the market next summer.
Sure, it’s just an informal poll, but Thunder fans will take any reassurance they can get when it comes to the six-time All-Star’s decision. Also consider the interview with Revolt TV (Sean Combs’ new music cable network) where KD referred to himself as “one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career,” and said he’d like to see his jersey retired, hanging in the Chesapeake Arena rafters.
But fans will have to sweat it out for another year because it would make no sense for Durant to sign an extension if the projected, meteoric rise in the salary cap plays out in July 2016. Sam Presti and OKC management, armed with approximately 30 percent more cap space, will be able to offer him an enormous raise to the $20 million in salary he’ll make in 2015-16.
This is partially why the Thunder matched that $70 million offer to Enes Kanter over the weekend. It reassures Durant and 2017 free agent Russell Westbrook that the team is willing to spend a lot of money on players like Kanter, ancillary guys who flush out and give extra dimensions to the roster, and the deal won’t hurt past next season due to the rise in cap and tax levels.
That won’t stop other teams from taking their best shot at KD next offseason. He’s too good not to try for. Teams like the Wizards and Mavs will make a big push for “homecomings” of sorts and the Lakers and Knicks will tout their big-market flashiness, but it’s looking more and more like Oklahoma City has a significant edge to hold onto Durant.
Get ready for a year’s worth of chatter though. And then fans can start talking about re-signing Westbrook!