LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Love. Marc Gasol. DeAndre Jordan. Draymond Green. Jimmy Butler. Dwyane Wade. Brook Lopez. Goran Dragic. Danny Green.
Every one of those top free agents this summer re-signed with their own team — security and taking the cash on the table were the themes of the summer. Even the restricted guys (Leonard, Green and Butler) didn’t meet with other teams, they were never really on the market. LaMarcus Aldridge was the outlier, bolting Portland to contend in San Antonio.
What does that portend heading into the much-discussed free agent summer of 2016, when the salary cap spikes and every team will be flush with cash?
Don’t bet on Kevin Durant leaving OKC.
Most league execs informally polled here at Summer League expect Durant to stay in Oklahoma City when he hits the market next summer. There are only a handful of teams that can legitimately think they’re an option. The Lakers, the Mavs and the Wizards (in Durant’s hometown) are in the mix, for starters. The Knicks? I mean, I guess, in theory.
I will say I’ve heard there is some pressure within Durant’s circle to consider the Knicks, but will they have a roster that he wants to come to?
Oklahoma City has always been the frontrunners, and the owner has signed off on paying the tax this year to show his commitment to winning (that came with matching the Blazers’ Enes Kanter offer). Durant likes the city, the team is a legit title contender, and as we have seen this year the lure of a big market alone is not near enough to draw a superstar.
The NBA season between now and Durant’s decision is a lifetime, and a lot of things could change. But it’s good to be in front of the race now, and Oklahoma City is that.