Just one win away from making his second NBA Finals appearance, Kevin Durant didn't want to talk about his upcoming free agency after the Thunder failed to defeat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.
"I mean, we just lost like 30 minutes ago, so I haven't even thought about it," Durant said postgame. "I'm just embracing my teammates and just reflecting on the season. I'll think about that stuff, I don't know when. But we just lost an hour ago, 30 minutes ago, so I don't know."
...most of the league's best-placed observers on the subject continue to see Durant's most probable choice as staying in OKC for the short term. That would mean signing a two-year deal with a player option after Year 1 that allows him to return to free agency in July 2017 ... alongside Russell Westbrook.
Get used to that idea until the hard evidence at our disposal forces a revision.
By going that route, Durant would give himself at least one more shot to bring a championship to a city, state and franchise he loves -- "[He] wants to win in Oklahoma as bad as anybody," Durant's agent, Rich Kleiman, told Marc Spears of The Undefeated -- while preserving his own flexibility to move on should Westbrook decide he wants to go elsewhere when it's his turn in a year.
Russell Westbrook and Durant are quite close (they're always doing their postgame press conferences together), so it makes sense that they would like to decide their future together. That way, they both can determine what would be best for one another. Should they continue their partnership if it doesn't amount to a championship? Or should they instead part ways and seek a championship elsewhere?
Also, it's hard to see Durant leaving Oklahoma City. The Thunder were, after all, one win away from making the NBA Finals and the team primarily consists of young stars and role players with plenty of potential. There is really nowhere else that Durant can go where he not only gets paid the most possible, but is also part of a championship contending team.
Sure, the Warriors and Spurs are interested in Durant, but they wouldn't be able to pay him more than Oklahoma City and may have to make roster changes just to sign him. Those roster changes could potentially weaken their team even though they are adding Durant. And since Durant is laser focused on winning his first NBA championship, he's likely won't sign with a team that could potentially be worse off than the Thunder.
Durant's free agency will definitely be one of the bigger storylines heading into the summer but if he quickly decides to re-sign with the Thunder then it will become just the expected outcome of what many are predicting will happen.