In stark contrast to the free-agent diva fest that has taken over the NBA, Kevin Durant -- the league's next big superstar -- quietly committed to the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday with an extension totaling five years and $85 million, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Durant, whose humble commitment to the small-market Thunder has him toiling at the Orlando Summer League and encouraging his teammates from the bench, agreed to a deal that does not include a player option or early-termination option, the person familiar with it said. It's the strongest sign yet of Durant's belief that he can win a championship in Oklahoma City.
"His stature has been elevated in the eyes of the NBA and the sports world," said the person with knowledge of the agreement, who has close ties to Durant. "He said, 'This is where I want to be. Let's get this done. I don't want any fanfare.' He's not your average superstar, and it's all real, too. It's all real."
Durant, the No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft, became eligible for an extension of his rookie contract at 12:01 ET last Thursday. Thunder GM Sam Presti visited Durant in person at the first moment he was permitted by league rules to begin negotiations. Beyond that, Durant's negotiation has been crowded out by all the noise surrounding the free-agent decisions of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade and Bosh announced their intentions to sign with the Heat in a national television interview Wednesday, while James will announce his plans in a one-hour TV special Thursday at p 9.m. ET.
The Thunder, entering the uncertainty of a possible lockout after next season or a new collective bargaining agreement that is expected to slash the top salaries in the NBA, could have waited until next summer and saved millions. But owner Clay Bennett, wanting to reciprocate the loyalty Durant has shown Oklahoma City, decided to make the commitment now and offered Durant the most he could offer under the current collective bargaining agreement.
"If you were playing GM 101, you could really wait and save a lot of money," the person familiar with the extension said. "This was a big statement on [Bennett's] part. He said, 'This is what you want, here it is. You've got it.'"