Kevin Durant is fueling plenty of NBA rumors, with sources close to the Oklahoma City Thunder star saying he plans a free agency tour to rival LeBron James and “The Decision” of 2010.
Durant’s contract expires on July 1, making him the biggest free agent since James hit the market in 2010, ultimately choosing the Miami Heat in a televised spectacle.
It’s not clear if Kevin Durant wants to televise his free agency the way LeBron did, but sources indicate that he certainly plans to make the most of his free agent status. After carrying the Thunder on his back for several seasons, Durant reportedly wants to relish in the attention he’s about to get and could be looking for destinations that can get him over the hump and finally win an NBA title.
Chris Mannix of Yahoo! Sports reported that Durant, who once announced his contract extension with a simple tweet, wants to make a much bigger deal of it this time around.
“Durant is looking forward to being recruited, to being courted, to being treated like the biggest free-agent prize since LeBron James six years ago. The chances of Durant sending a simple tweet again announcing his return are virtually nonexistent, but the Thunder remain hopeful that his decision, regardless of how this season ends, is the same.”
The NBA rumors indicate that as many as a dozen teams that could consider signing Kevin Durant, and five or six that will make a hard run at him. The Oklahoma City Thunder own his Bird’s Rights, and can go over the cap to offer him the largest deal, but all other teams are expected to make a max offer.
Two of the Thunder’s Western Conference rival could be frontrunners. Mannix reported that league executives expect the San Antonio Spurs are emerging as a major player, and would give Durant a chance to contend for a title for years as part of a core that includes Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Durant himself has dropped hints about taking pressure off himself in recent years, a change from the earlier days when he essentially took the team on his back.
“I think I’m playing a little more free than I used to,” Durant told The Vertical. “I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d think, ‘Maybe I’m not being a good enough leader. Maybe I should change my personality.’ I was always thinking what if I change this, what if I change that, instead of just going out and being me. I’ve just been about playing the game at the level I like playing at and playing with the level of joy I like playing with.”
That would certainly not be a problem in San Antonio, where the team has found success in spreading out the responsibilities. When Tim Duncan doesn’t step up, it’s Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard. Sometimes it’s been Danny Green.
The Golden State Warriors are seen as the other frontrunner, offering Durant a title-ready team where he would not have to bear the brunt of the scoring burden.
In recent weeks, Kevin Durant has become more open to talking about the possibility of other destinations for next season, saying he will no longer hold his tongue when reporters ask how he likes a given city.
Whatever happens, the NBA rumors surrounding Kevin Durant are likely to grow louder as the summer approaches and teams begin gearing up to make a run at him. Just don’t expect to see the decision play out on television.
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