Does Durant return to Oklahoma City?
As early as July 1, Kevin Durant could send shockwaves across the NBA. But will the 2014 MVP’s allegiance to Oklahoma City ultimately prove stronger than the promise of a massive payday elsewhere?
At age 27, Durant shall have no shortage of suitors if he decides to attack the free-agency process full-bore. Handicappers, though, also recognize the prolific scorer’s deep love for the Thunder. Online sports book Bovada.lv give Durant odds of -290 to begin October at Chesapeake Energy Arena. He’s a +190 long shot to leave the Northwest Division champions.
Following OKC’s recent loss to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, Durant certainly didn’t sound like a person on the verge of abandoning the only pro organization he’s ever known. After all, the Thunder were on the cusp of vying for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The perennial All-Star has craved a title since he first arrived in Oklahoma City eight years ago. Through good times and bad, individually and collectively, Durant’s never deviated from that stance.
The positives significantly outweighed the negatives in Billy Donovan’s initial go-round. Durant absolutely silenced doubters with respect to the condition of his right foot, too, that nuisance which robbed him of 55 games in 2014-15. The man shattered Michael Jordan’s single-season record for most consecutive contests with at least 25 points, for crying out loud.
Where Jordan had Pippen as his primary running mate, Durant enjoys a special bond with Russell Westbrook. The chemistry between the two is undeniably potent, both on and off the floor. Durant may entertain the idea of returning home to Washington and ruling the Southeast Division with John Wall. Still, who provides a better match for KD than Westbrook? The former doesn’t seem to mind that Westbrook frequently monopolizes the basketball either. At the end of the day, they simply complement each other to a tee.
If Durant remains true to his word that winning trumps everything, few clubs can rival the Thunder’s competitiveness for the foreseeable future. The interior tandem of Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka demonstrated a ton of growth during the playoffs, too, perhaps forcing West adversaries to worry about yet another facet in a few months. We expect Durant to ink a short-term deal that rewards him in the here and now while allowing for the option of re-enter the FA fray several summers from now.
KEVIN DURANT'S 2016-17 TEAM: THUNDER -290