Kevin Durant’s only focus is on beating the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. If the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t upset Gregg Popovich and company, though, it appears increasingly likely basketball’s marquee free agent could sign with his team’s current foe this summer.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the prevailing notion throughout league circles is that Durant will choose to leave the Thunder in free agency should they fail to reach the Western Conference Finals. And while the Golden State Warriors still believe they have a legitimate possibility to ink the 2014 MVP come July, the Spurs supposedly do, too.
San Antonio’s justifiable interest in Durant is nothing new. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported it last week before the Conference Semifinals tipped off, and it’s safe to assume every team in the league – at least those most respected or blessed to play in a big market, of course – wants a meeting with Oklahoma City’s superstar once free agency begins.
The salary cap is exploding to approximately $92 million next season. Most franchises will be flush with floating money to spend, and even pricey perennial title contenders like the Warriors and Spurs will have the flexibility to add a max-level player with clever, creative financial management of incumbent players.
The most noteworthy tidbit of Stein’s story is the supposedly growing expectation around the league that an Oklahoma City loss to San Antonio would “essentially cinch” Durant walking away from the only organization he’s ever known. Tangentially, beating the Spurs would apparently “be enough” for him to sign a one-plus-one contract with the Thunder – the outcome we’ve long considered most plausible regardless of Oklahoma City’s playoff performance.
It certainly bears mentioning that Stein’s report is notably lacking any concrete language whatsoever with respect to Durant’s future. His camp is notoriously tight-lipped; every whisper concerning the 27 year old’s free agency plans is coming from third-party sources at best.
As Lowe wrote last week, though, rumors about San Antonio potentially landing LaMarcus Aldridge gained circulation from those in the know at this time last year. When there’s smoke surrounding Popovich and R.C. Buford, basically, there’s normally fire.
Will that prove the case with Durant? How the remainder of the Thunder’s ongoing series against the Spurs plays out could decide. Game 3 tips off at 9:30PM ET.