The most likely outcome next fall is that Kevin Durant is pulling an Oklahoma City Thunder jersey over his head.
We know he likes the city of Boston. And that his people have done their due diligence on Golden State (many around the league think that could happen). We know that Miami, San Antonio, Washington, New York, the LA Lakers, and every other team in the NBA would like to make their pitch to Durant.
But Oklahoma City has always been the shortest odds. Both because Durant likes it and is comfortable there, and because it is already an elite team with another Top 5 player.
After days of being asked about other destinations, Durant was honest about loving OKC in an interview with Bloomberg, (as transcribed by Erik Horne of the Oklahoman).
“It’s been great so far. I love the city. As far as being marketable, with social media and how things are going nowadays, you can be marketable anywhere. I’ve gotten everything that I’ve wanted to get while being in Oklahoma City; that’s never the problem. I just enjoy playing the game of basketball.”
But could he make more money in marketing and endorsements in a big city?
“It’s easy to think like that when you hear it a lot, but like I said it comes back to loving the game for what I started it for as a kid, which was just to have fun. I’m blessed enough that if I work hard enough I can make the money that I want to make, but I’ve made so much in my career already that I can take care of my family, and it’s all about having fun playing with great people and being around great people every single day. That’s more important to me.”
Durant is thinking about his legacy — he wants to win. Now. That’s part of what drives the idea of Golden State and nixes ideas like the Lakers or Knicks. Durant can make more money in salary in Oklahoma City, but if it’s about the money he’ll sign a two-year contract with the Thunder, with an opt-out after one (the same kind LeBron James signed this summer), then he can use that opt-out and the summer of 2017 Durant can get a larger slice of an even higher salary cap.
If Durant is going to open up the door and listen to pitches from other teams question he’s going to ask himself is this: Where do I stand a better chance of winning a ring than Oklahoma City? And that’s going to eliminate a lot of places that think they are in the hunt.
Ultimately, the answer may be “there’s no place like home.” And we don’t mean Washington D.C.