Kevin Durant will be a free agent next summer. While the superstar forward is expected to re-sign with Oklahoma City, it would be foolish to bet against a trade of earth-shattering proportions ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
If Durant leaves in free agency, Thunder would be left without their franchise player, besides having to deal with Russell Westbrook’s looming free agency a year later. By 2017, OKC could be starting afresh. If a team is willing to trade a superstar with a few contracted years remaining, anything is possible. OKC would obviously not take up another expiring contract. They’d need some assurance.
Sam Presti, the, OKC GM, will never be forgiven for trading James Harden in 2012. While Presti pointed to the fact that Serge Ibaka deserved the max extension ahead of the future MVP candidate, fans in Oklahoma are convinced that the city would have won a ring or two if “The Beard” stayed in town. But Presti has proven that he is not afraid to go through with a blockbuster trade.
The Thunder are 6-5 right now. They are still behind Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and possibly Los Angeles Clippers in the pecking order. Most pundits are expecting a Warriors-Spurs showdown in the Western Conference Finals. Unless Thunder go on a mid-season rampage, it’s very difficult to foresee them defeating the aforementioned teams in the playoffs.
If Durant lets OKC know that he’s inclined towards leaving next year, Presti would have to do what’s best for his team. Durant stands to earn up to $26.7 million in the first year of his new contract.
Durant has been linked to Miami Heat, hometown club Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets.
Heat could be willing to part with Chris Bosh, who still has four years left on his deal. While Thunder would get a chance to secure a long term all-star, Miami would louden its pitch to sign Durant to a fresh deal in 2016. This is what Pat Riley did with Goran Dragic. To pull off a Durrant-Bosh trade, OKC would have to package a role player with Durrant.
Carmelo Anthony is another interesting trade option, though the Knicks star has a no trade clause on his contract. Also, another possibility is a team does a sign-and-trade next year.
Recently, several reports suggested that the Rockets would be making a serious push at Durant. It’s possible that Dwight Howard takes lesser money on a fresh contract to accommodate the superstar. Another reason is Durant and Harden’s close relationship. They were teammates when Thunder made the 2012 NBA Finals against Miami Heat.
Where will Durant end up next year? It could be the same team he might be traded to.
— UberTopic (@Uber_Topic) November 7, 2015
— Tom Neugebauer (@TommyNewG) November 9, 2015