Oklahoma City? Washington? New York or Los Angeles? Where free anent to be Kevin Durant will choose to play in the summer of 2016?
What has not really been asked: Just how much money will Durant make on that new contract?
When you consider that the salary cap is set for a massive jump that year due to the new television revenue — somewhat dependent upon if the player’s union and league agree to a “smoothing” plan — Durant’s new deal could be setting a record.
Not just setting, shattering, if you read to what Chris Mannix wrote at Sports Illustrated.
Thunder officials understand there are no guarantees with Durant. They know they can offer the most money — several executives believe a max deal for Durant in the new TV revenue-infused market in 2016 could be worth in the neighborhood of $200 million over five years — and they believe Durant likes playing in Oklahoma City.
The record for richest contract in NBA history so far belongs to Kobe Bryant, for the deal before his current one — seven years, $136.4 million. During that contract he won an MVP award and two NBA titles (where he was Finals MVP). Considering all that and the way he sells courtside seats and luxury boxes, it was a deal the Lakers would make any day.
The Thunder would agree to a deal tomorrow if they could.
Durant’s new contract in OKC would be a five-year one, but because a max salary is a percentage of the salary cap and that is about to spike thanks to the NBA’s $24 billion television deal, Durant stands to cash in.
This doesn’t mean he’s going to stay. With his massive shoe deal the money alone will not be enough to keep him in Oklahoma City. What he craves is a ring. If he feels that is not likely in OKC, for whatever reason, he will have 29 other teams willing to move heaven and earth and massive contracts to create space for him on their roster.
A team outside OKC can only offer four years and smaller raises, the Thunder would have north of $40 million more guaranteed on the table (it’s impossible to say right now exactly how much). That’s not something he will walk away from lightly.
If he doesn’t walk away, he will set a record (well, him and LeBron James if he becomes a free agent that summer also).