Kevin Durant’s looming free agency has been talked about at length for the last two years. As a fan, I’m really looking forward to some closure on the situation, one way or another. But here is yet another narrative that hasn’t quite been discussed.
The most popular theory right now is that Kevin Durant stays in Oklahoma City and accepts a two-year deal with a player option for that second year. This way he can stay with Westbrook until they both can become free agents the following summer. He’ll also be able to maximize his payday when the TV rights money sends the cap soaring that same summer, when he’ll move up a tier for max contracts (it’ll be his tenth year).
The salary cap is projected to be around $92 million this year, and early estimates have it soaring to over $110 million next summer. That’s another thing that has been looming over the NBA like the inevitable “winter is coming” in Game Of Thrones. The only difference is winter is summer, the White Walkers are filled with cash and everyone is making decisions based on the spike.
However, it appears Kevin Durant might have a different approach. Via The Sporting News:
“He is not the kind of guy who wants to fiddle around in free agency and sort of play the system that way,” said one source who has worked with Durant. “That is not his personality. He likes stability and it is kind of a gamble to be taking a short contract and then trying to come back and do it all over again in a year. That’s the other thing. He is not someone who wants to go through this twice, I really don’t think. It’s no sure thing.”
If Durant were to sign a short-term deal, his max the next summer would start at $38.5 million, rather than $27 million if he were to sign that same max this summer. That new tier he reaches next summer as a 10-year veteran means an extra 5 percent of the cap is aded to his max deal (30 percent vs. 35 percent). He could also explore whether the team’s impressive playoff run this year can be built upon next year. Plus, he would have another season under first-year head coach, Billy Donovan. But it seems more than money will play a factor in this big decision.
It’s clear that Kevin Durant is loyal to his teammates. He put Oklahoma City on the map, and this summer we might finally get rid of all the questions about his future — at least until his new deal ends. When that will be might be later than many expect, but — like all things about KD’s free agency — this is mostly conjecture.