The summer of KD is finally upon us after the Thunder were eliminated by the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Nationally and locally it feels like the chances of KD2DC are slim to none. However, as the former great World Champion Bullets Coach Dick Motta used to say, ‘it ain’t over until the Fat Lady Sings.’
In today’s post we will try to interpret what the sudden end to OKC season means for Durant’s pending free agency. Does he have unfinished business in OKC? Or he is just finished with his business there?
Let’s start with a novel idea. What is Kevin Durant actually saying after the disappointing end to the season that saw his team blow a 3-1 series lead? Here’s KD on how he will decide his future and who will help him make his decision.
“It’s something that I’m going to try to take care of with my close family and friends, my tight-knit circle that I have,” Durant said. “It’s not like I’m trying to keep anything away. It’s just something that is so important. It’s a huge decision. I want to keep it within the people I trust.”
For a couple years plenty of unnamed sources have weighed in on Durant’s inner most thoughts. Usually KD has denied those reports or ignored them. So it is nice to finally get Durant’s thoughts on the record,even if they are guarded.
What about a free tour? KD addressed that question head on. “That’s not who I am,” he said. “… I’m not that type of person. I mean, that’s not really — like I said, the two most important things for me is being around great people and having fun playing basketball. All that other stuff that comes with, being who I am and being in this position. It’s not really what I’m concerned with.”
Remember when Lebron was doing his ‘decision’ back in 2010? Well Durant just tweeted out he re-signed in OKC at that time. No splashy announcement. It appears that is his mindset once again.
Why leave OKC? They are close. He has also called OKC ‘home.’ They could have taken out the champs. This might just be part of the process and another year with Billy Donovan and some roster tweaks could be the answer. He and Westbrook are like brothers. Yes they argue on court sometimes, but they are tight.
There is also the obvious point: Financially it is better to stay in OKC. Credit to Yahoo’s The Vertical’s and Bobby Marks for the table below. Staying with the Thunder could mean $53(M) more over the next six years.
So Durant could re-sign a two year deal with an opt out after one year and hit the market next summer and cash in on a long term deal because he would hit Tier 3 free agent status next summer.
|One-year deal then extension With OKC 2016-17: $25.8 million|
|With OKC||With another team|
|2017-18: $35.7 million||$35.7 million|
|2018-19: $38.4 million||$37.7 million|
|2019-20: $41.1 million||$38.9 million|
|2020-21: $43.8 million||$40.6 million|
|2021-22: $46.5 million|
|Totals: $205.7 million||$152.7 million|
Again why leave? Unless Durant is really miserable and he’s trying not to hurt anyone’s feeling in Oklahoma City. Financially and basketball-wise it doesn’t seem to make sense following his criteria of the ‘two most important things for me is being around great people and having fun playing basketball.’
There is a chance Westbrook leaves next off-season, which could be interesting, especially if Durant does the “one more year in OKC” thing. The two of them could be a package deal in the market.
There is some risk if the Collective Bargaining Agreement changes next summer – which it likely could. You could also argue in a bigger market maybe Durant could make more money in endorsements. I don’t buy it. Durant was recently named the “6th most Famous Athlete Worldwide” by ESPN (only Lebron is higher in the NBA at #2). A World Championship seems to be the only thing keeping him out of Top 5 status.
Ultimately, Durant is going to be rich no matter what he does. Heck, he already is rich. He makes an estimated $35(M) in endorsements and $20(M) in salary. So he needs to make a decision he will be at peace with. Taking him at face value, that sounds like staying in OKC.
So what can suitors like the Wizards, Celtics, Rockets, Lakers, Knicks, and Heat do? Next week we will take a closer look at the Wizards’ best options for pulling off a free agent buzzer beater.