Kevin Durant is focused on the Oklahoma City Thunder winning the NBA Finals — not on the chatter about where he’ll likely end up next year. Durant, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has been the subject of rumors saying he’ll leave the Thunder this summer for one of many different NBA teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the New York Knicks.
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, one of the premier columnists covering the NBA, Durant is fully committed to winning with Oklahoma City here and now.
“I spent some time around the Thunder this week and I can tell you, Durant has been relentless in trying to lead this team out of its recent slide. Oklahoma City has struggled for several reasons including the loss of top assistant coach Monty Williams from Billy Donovan’s coaching staff, but Durant remains invested. He’s the solution in Oklahoma City. He’s not the problem.”
Durant is well aware that he’ll need to make one of the biggest decisions of his life this summer, and he has handled the media nonsense (unlike LeBron James) in a way that fans can believe reports like the one Wojnarowski put out this week.
When well-respected broadcaster and voice of the Pelicans Joel Meyers said on a segment of SiriusXM NBA radio earlier this week that Durant will “be gone” if the Thunder don’t at least make the Finals this year, Durant threw out the audacious claim, calmly and quickly.
“I never said that; I never thought that. Like I said, I can’t control rumors from people who sit behind their desk every day and think of stuff to say.”
And just to make sure the media knew he was serious, Durant reiterated his sentiments the next day.
“If it didn’t come from me or anybody I know, like I said in the summertime, I don’t know where it comes from. Everyone makes their rumors this time of year and everybody wants the clicks for their stories. That’s a part of it. I had nothing to do with that. I can’t control it.”
Can anyone really blame him for wanting to stay put on a team projected to win nearly 60 games this season? Not only that, Durant and the Thunder have shown that they are essentially the only team in the league that can match up to the ridiculous, history-making Warriors.
Which legacy sounds better?
Being remembered as the insanely-talented player who joined the best NBA team in the world (possibly ever) because he knew he never actually stood a chance against them anyway?
Or, being remembered as the player who trusted in the process of winning a title by sticking with an organization for the long run and overcoming the odds of winning a title so seemingly great, that his legacy would be stamped on the NBA forever.
Durant knows this. He understands that the Thunder are in the title hunt just as much as the Spurs or the Warriors are. Join the Lakers? They have a promising core of young talent, but are light-years behind the Thunder as far as title hopes are concerned. The Knicks? Durant has already quashed the notion of joining Melo in NYC. Both Portland and Utah have the cap space to offer Durant a max deal, but still, they are no where near the caliber of the Thunder right now.
Kevin Durant is right where he needs to be — averaging 28.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists for the 3rd-best team in the West. The Thunder have the most talented, explosive duo in the NBA, and they’re coming off of an impressive win against a really good Clippers team. Why should he be focused on anything other than that?
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]