With the 2016 NBA trade deadline only nine days away, rumors are running rampant regarding some of the biggest stars in the league. While the Oklahoma City Thunder will not be trading away superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, there are rumors going around about their impending free agency. Durant is set to become a free agent after the 2016 season, while Westbrook will be free to pick his next team after the 2017 season. According to recent reports, there is a chance that Durant and Westbrook will both sign with the Los Angeles Lakers over the next two years.
While the Thunder are currently the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with a record of 39-14, there are doubts regarding their ability to win a championship. Always one of the top teams in the league, the Thunder, led by Durant and Westbrook, have fallen short every single year. Going into the 2016 playoffs, the odds are that they are going to advance to the second round. The problem is they are going to have to defeat two superior teams in the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors if they have any hopes of advancing to the NBA Finals. Both the Spurs and Warriors are having historic seasons, so the Thunder are likely to fall short once again.
'Big possibility' Russell Westbrook follows Kevin Durant to Lakers, says Stephen A. Smith https://t.co/fx7MdULMVT
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 1, 2016
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Durant has been linked to numerous teams including the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks. While the Warriors and Knicks still remain potential destinations, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes that Durant and Westbrook will both be members of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017. As reported by the Washington Post, Smith is even calling it a “big possibility.”
“Keep in mind this. One of the biggest reasons, I’m told, that Kevin Durant may have the Lakers at the top of his list is because the Lakers have been led to believe — by whom specifically I do not know — but the Lakers have been led to believe that it is a very good chance that the following year Russell Westbrook is coming. So, because of that, this notion that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook ain’t tight, that they don’t want to play together, that is a lie. They love each other, and they love being on the same team with one another. And if it so happens to be in the L.A. market, all the better. I’m not saying that it’s done, I’m not saying that they said they’re going to leave Oklahoma City, but it’s a big possibility. It’s a big possibility.”
As Smith notes, there has been speculation over the years that Durant does not like playing with Westbrook. While Westbrook is also one of the best players in the league, many fans and analysts believe that Durant is deferring to him in situations where he should be taking the shot. While the Durant and Westbrook combination has proven to be very successful, it has not led to a championship.
If Durant and Westbrook’s goal is to stay together, they could just both re-sign with the Thunder. It has been speculated that Durant will sign a one-year deal with the Thunder after the 2016 season in order to give him more time to make a long-term decision regarding his future. While Durant and Westbrook have both spoken about their love for the Oklahoma City community, sometimes a change of scenery is really necessary.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) January 31, 2016
In addition to Smith, Morning News USA is reporting that Magic Johnson also believes the Lakers have a shot to sign Durant. While Johnson’s power is limited, he states that he will do what he can in the recruiting process to lure Durant to the Lakers.
With a few months remaining in the 2016 NBA season, a lot of things are going to change for Durant and Westbrook. If the Thunder somehow manage to win a championship this year, both players could decide to re-sign with the Thunder in order to start a potential dynasty. If the Thunder fall short again, Durant and Westbrook could look to move on to another team with new opportunities.
While the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in rebuilding mode, they are still one of the most desired franchises in the NBA. With Kobe Bryant retiring after a Hall of Fame career, the fans will be demanding another star. Rumors will continue to come out regarding Durant and Westbrook’s next destination, but the Los Angeles Lakers could turn out to be the most desirable team for the two stars.
[Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]