Kevin Durant, the former league MVP, is expected to re-sign with Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason on a two-year extension with an opt out clause after one season, according to several league insiders.
Durant, an unrestricted free agent this summer, was expected to be courted by a long list of teams with varying recruiting pitches. However, Thunder’s impressive victory against San Antonio Spurs during the Western Conference semifinals has influenced Durant’s decision to stick with OKC.
Kevin Durant could maximize earnings …
It would make a ton of sense for Durant to opt out again in 2017 since the NBA salary cap jumps to an unprecedented $108 million. The superstar forward stands to earn $40 million in additional salary if he stays put in Oklahoma for an additional 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. Therefore, all signs point to Durant going the LeBron James route – opting out after a year to maximize his earnings.
Last week, Forbes published a feature discussing Durant’s options in free agency, explaining why Thunder returned to prominence after beating the Spurs in the playoffs. “The pairing of Durant and (Russell) Westbrook, along with rising stars Enes Kanter and Steven Adams, positions OKC in excellent shape to challenge for a title annually over the next half-decade.”
The Russell Westbrook factor…
By re-entering free agency next offseason, Durant will have the opportunity to assess his future along with teammate Russell Westbrook – who also becomes an unrestricted free agent. There is a theory around the league that Durant and Westbrook would prefer to stick together and try and chase a championship together, regardless of the destination.
Last week, Durant told ESPN’s Royce Young that it was difficult for him to picture a future that does not include Westbrook. “Russ is an open book. What you see is what you get. He doesn’t hide anything. Everything you see is who he is. That’s something else that makes us different. He’s a kind of a heart-on-your-sleeve type of guy, and I’m more observant, keep it up here and figure-it-out-inside-my-head type of guy. That’s what makes us come together and work.”
Kevin Durant stands to make $37.5 million for the 2017-2018 season by re-entering free agency next season and make 35 percent of the projected $108 million salary cap. Why leave so much money on the table by signing a longterm extension this season?