Former NBA executive and current ESPN analyst Tom Penn suggested the Thunder would be more likely to trade Kevin Durant in light of Russell Westbrook’s incredible run with Durant sidelined.
Specifically, Penn cited Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s unwillingness to lose a player for nothing. Durant, of course, could leave for the Wizards, Knicks, Lakers, Raptors or any other team as an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
But Presti is shutting down that line of thinking.
It’s ludicrous to assert that we would trade Kevin. There’s no way to measure what he represents to our organization on and off the floor. He has helped build this organization from the ground up and personifies the Thunder: past, present and future. When he’s done playing there will be streets named after him throughout the state and younger generations of Oklahomans will learn about the role Kevin has played in elevating this community in ways beyond basketball.
The Thunder might lose Durant in 2016, but there’s almost no way they trade him before that.
1. It’d be very difficult to get fair return for someone who plays like an MVP when healthy and is in the midst of his prime.
2. Trading Durant would take the pressure to stay in Oklahoma City off him and place all the scorn squarely on Presti. As the general manager says, Durant is revered in Oklahoma. Fans – to varying degrees, depending how he handled it – would despise him if he left, though. If Durant wants to accept that burden and leave, that’s on him. I doubt Presti lets him off the hook and takes the admonishment himself. Fans would loathe Presti, and Durant could remain beloved by always claiming he wanted to stay.