Kevin Durant is almost certain to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a one-year contract extension, according to several league sources. This way, Durant can re-enter free agency in 2017 when the NBA salary cap jumps to an unprecedented $108 million.
Durant stands to earn $40 million in additional salary if he stays put in Oklahoma for an extra year. If Durant signs a multi-year deal this summer, he will not qualify for the 35 percent max available to players with 10 years of experience. At the end of this summer, Durant will still have only 9 years of experience in the league and will be eligible for a 30 per cent max deal.
Don’t overlook OKC…
This could bode well for both Durant and OKC. With Golden State Warriors (48-4) and San Antonio Spurs (45-8) dominating the league, it’s easy to overlook Thunder’s impressive 40-14 record. Durant and Russell Westbrook still have a shot at competing for the championship this June.
Durant’s decision has been influenced by the fact that Thunder are still competitive and worthy contenders to the Warriors, as illustrated during their match-up last weekend. According to Yahoo Sports, the Thunder management and Durant haven’t spoken about free agency or a possible break-up. “We never talk about that stuff, me, (general manager) Sam Presti, our assistant GM (Troy Weaver). It’s always about how I can be better for my teammates and with my leadership skills,” Durant said during the all-star weekend in Toronto.
‘Great to feel wanted’
If Durant does explore free agency, the Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are viewed as possible landing spots. “I will tell you one thing, it’s great to feel wanted. I’ve heard so many rumors or whatever. It’s good for people to say this team wants me or that team wants me. That’s what you want as a player is for everybody to respect you and really admire how you play basketball,” said the all-star forward.
It makes a ton of business sense for Kevin Durant to stay back in Thunder and test free agency again in 2017. Who knows? If Durant wins a championship before 2017, he could finish his career in Oklahoma.