With only three short days to go until Thursday’s NBA trade deadline for the 2016 season, more and more rumors are emerging regarding some of the league’s most elite players. While Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and Ricky Rubio will likely continue to be included in potential deals, the most interesting news could come after the season is over. Set to become a free agent at the end of the year, Oklahoma City Thunder star small forward Kevin Durant could be making an interesting decision after the 2015-2016 season concludes.
With a record of 40-14, the Oklahoma City Thunder are once again one of the top teams in the Western Conference. While Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook are one of the most feared duos in the NBA, it has not exactly led to playoff success. Sure, the Thunder have been to the NBA Finals, but they still have not accomplished the ultimate goal of winning a championship.
Russell Westbrook makes history & Kevin Durant shines in 65th NBA All-Star Game. Here's Nick Gallo's recap. https://t.co/z1V8NpoLA2
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 15, 2016
With Durant set to turn 28-years-old in September and Westbrook turning 28-years-old in November, the combination is still young, but it is time they think about a long-term plan if they have any hopes of winning multiple championships. According to the New York Post, Durant is eligible to become a free agent after this season and Westbrook after the 2017 season.
While Durant has had a ton of success in the regular season with the Thunder and Westbrook, his goal of winning a championship has not yet come to fruition. Since Durant understands that the clock is ticking, he could potentially sign a two-year contract with the Thunder that includes an opt-out clause after the first year. The New York Post explained why this would make sense for Durant, the Thunder, and Westbrook.
“That way, Durant, who can become a free agent this summer, could be in position to see where All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook is headed. Westbrook became just the second back-to-back All-Star Game MVP in the game’s history — and the first solo back-to-back winner — Sunday night with a 31-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance to help the West defeat the East 196-173. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017, and maybe neither of the OKC duo wants to make a decision without knowing the other’s destination.”
If Durant wants to continue his playing career with Westbrook, that decision makes perfect sense. While signing a long-term deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder could guarantee his future with Westbrook, there could be better opportunities elsewhere for both players.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Durant has been linked to the Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks by multiple NBA sources. Other analysts even speculated that Durant and Westbrook could both eventually become members of the Los Angeles Lakers.
For any of these scenarios to happen, the team in question would likely have to make multiple trades and roster moves in order to sign both Durant and Westbrook. Since the Warriors and Knicks already have stars on their teams making big money, it would take some clever salary cap work in order to get the deals done. The opportunity to sign Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook does not happen often, though, so it is likely that any team in the running could make it work.
— NewsOK (@NewsOK) February 12, 2016
With Kobe Bryant coming off the books this year and a young team in place, the Los Angeles Lakers could be the best destination for Durant and Westbrook in 2017. Since the city is all about star power, the Lakers would instantly become the biggest story in the NBA again.
And finally, Durant and Westbrook could both choose to remain in Oklahoma City in order to bring a championship to the franchise that originally drafted them. While things are not going to get any easier with the Golden State Warriors being a young team still, the Thunder will always have a chance with Durant and Westbrook on the floor.
According to Sporting News, there have been trade rumors regarding Durant before Thursday’s deadline, but it is unlikely the Thunder give up on their star before this year’s playoff run.
While it will not happen until after the 2016-2017 season, rumors will continue to come out regarding the future destinations of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
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