The rumors surrounding Kevin Durant are reaching a fever pitch as the summer’s biggest free agent awaits his courting period, but there are new indications that the All-Star forward will end up right where he started.
Durant has already begun planning for his approach to free agency when it starts July 1, with meetings planned with the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and Miami Heat. He will also be meeting with the team he nearly brought to the NBA Finals this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and rumors indicate that they still have the inside track on Durant.
The Thunder are able to offer Durant the biggest contract, and Durant has said for months that he wants to play for a team that will give him the best chance to win a title. After the Thunder’s deep playoff run, it will be a lot harder for other teams to argue they can offer him anything better.
KWTV’s Dean Blevins reported that sources within Kevin Durant’s camp said he is on the way to signing a five-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but first will be entertaining other offers. Durant has planned to meet with teams at his offseason home in Los Angeles, and he’s expected to get some very big offers.
The Warriors have long been seen as the frontrunner, with reports that the team has been planning for years to make a run at him. Durant would help the team form a powerhouse that could match the 73-win squad from this year, and also could help get them over the hump for a second NBA title in three years.
The Spurs have a strong offer as well, allowing Durant to form a new core along with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
But many still expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to win out. ESPN noted that the meetings are likely all part of the procedure, with Durant hearing what other teams have to offer before ultimately returning to the Thunder.
“Yet while that might be enough to keep Thunder general manager Sam Presti up for a few torturous nights, the prospect of Durant returning on a two-year deal (with a player option in the second) to the only franchise he has ever known remains as likely now as it did on the night his latest season ended in that Western Conference Finals Game 7 loss at Oracle Arena. And yes, that’s still the case after the Thunder’s shocking draft night trade on Thursday.”
The report added that Kevin Durant had his fingerprints on the trade sending Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis — if not arranged by Durant, it was certainly at the least approved by him.
There are reports that the list of potential suitors has already been whittled down. The Los Angeles Lakers and Durant’s hometown Washington Wizards — both fringe candidates — are reportedly out of the running now. The Knicks were once seen as an outsider, but could now get a closer look from Durant after New York traded for Derrick Rose.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 25, 2016
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) June 26, 2016
If the rumors surrounding Kevin Durant are true and he does end up back with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it could make for a Western Conference powerhouse. The Thunder got younger and arguably more versatile through the Ibaka trade, and the team was already at the doorstep of the NBA Finals this year before blowing a three-games-to-one lead against the Warriors. If Golden State isn’t able to replicate the success of its past two seasons, and if the Spurs hit a bump in their transition from the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker era to the new Leonard/Aldridge one, then it could be Durant’s Thunder becoming the new team to beat in the West.
[Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]