Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant -- yes, he is still technically a member of the Thunder until free agency begins in July -- spoke about his big offseason decision at his KD9 shoe release event in Austin, Texas on Monday.
"I just want to play again," Durant said, via The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater. "I'm excited to play the game again. Olympics has given me the opportunity. I know how important this time is. Like I've been saying all season, I have people I trust. I have all the trust in the world with them that we'll sit down and figure this thing out, figure out what's best for me. It's a little bit more complicated now, but it's still a few weeks away. It's one of those situations where you work so hard to put yourself in a situation to kind of control your own destiny. I give all the credit to how much work I put in and the people who've helped me put that work in. I'm worried about basketball. That's what it is for me. It's a basketball decision. I'm looking forward to the future."
Durant didn't exactly tip his hand there, but it's notable that he said that it is a basketball decision. This would appear to be bad news for franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks, who are in major markets but cannot offer him the sort of supporting cast that he has had in Oklahoma City.
In his third season in the league, Durant's Thunder won 50 games. Ever since, he has started every year believing that he had a shot at a championship. He has yet to achieve that goal, and it would be weird if he chose to sign with a team that would make it more difficult. This is why there have been rumors that he'd consider going to the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors for the last few months.
By taking the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals, Oklahoma City proved it was an elite team. The Thunder did not win a title, but it was good enough to do so. While this does not guarantee that Durant will return, it gives fans a reason to be optimistic. If there are better basketball environments than the one he's helped build from the beginning, there are not many.