Kevin Durant will hit free agency as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016. It’s still two years away, but that hasn’t stopped talking heads from getting a head start on the speculation. On Monday, Stephen A. Smith went on ESPN’s “Inside The Locker Room” to discuss Durant’s impending free agency.
Via Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post, Smith thinks a return home for Durant to Washington is very possible:
I don’t think anybody, to be quite honest with you,” Smith said. “Obviously the New York Knicks would be in the mix and what have you. But there are folks that I’ve spoken to that are relatively close to Kevin Durant that tell me if he were to decide to leave Oklahoma City, it would be for the nation’s capital. That’s the kind of dude he is. That’s a place that he would consider.
“I certainly don’t want to sit here as a reporter and insider and try to give indications that he’s planning on leaving Oklahoma City,” Smith said. “I don’t know that to be sure. I don’t know that to be the case. But I was told that if there is a team that would be strongly considered, it is the Washington Wizards, and him returning home.”
Whether we can trust Smith’s sources is up for debate. He was insistent all season about Carmelo Anthony leaving the New York Knicks, which turned out to be wrong. But he also said this about LeBron James last year:
“[The Knicks are] a distant, distant, distant third — as is everyone else — to staying in Miami, and heading to Cleveland,” Smith said on the show. “Right now, just as much as there’s a 50-50 possibility that Carmelo will leave the Knicks to go to LA, there’s as much of a possibility that LeBron will leave Miami to go back home to Cleveland.”
To be honest, two years out from Durant hitting the market no one really knows because so much can change between now and the summer of 2016. The Thunder are two years removed from a Finals appearance, and can attribute their failure to get back the last two seasons to luck and injuries — two external factors that get lost in the shuffle to proclaim title favorites. Russell Westbrook was injured in the first round against the Houston Rockets in 2013. This season, the Thunder were without Serge Ibaka for the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs.
The Wizards are very aware of when Durant is hitting the open market. They passed on signing Trevor Ariza to a long-term deal, and instead brought in Paul Pierce on a two-year contract that expires the summer Durant becomes available.
In addition, they recently hired David Adkins, an assistant coach at the University of Maryland. Adkins was an assistant coach at Montrose Christian School, where he worked with Durant when the Thunder star was still in high school.
These specific details don’t mean things are lining up for Durant, a Washington native, to return home in 2016. But the Wizards are definitely setting themselves up to make a pitch. In two years they might have a contending team that will be attractive to free agents, even if it’s not Durant. It should also be noted the Wizards play in the Eastern Conference, augmenting the changes of making the Finals for any potential future free agent signees.
What do you think?
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