Word is already leaking about the approach the superstar and his courters will take.
I think that Oklahoma City remains the frontrunner – and I think a strong frontrunner.
I’m told even if he left, he would do a one-year deal somewhere. Because economically, it makes sense for him to do a one-year deal and then do the longer deal after it. It’ll be worth more money because the cap goes up again next year. But Oklahoma City is a frontrunner. They’re a strong frontrunner.
The one thing about the KD meetings – and I’ve gotten this from several teams – a lot of them really see it more as they probably, listen, they’d love to get him now, but they kind of feel like they’re planting the seed and laying the groundwork for next year. They all know he’s likely to stay in OKC – or certainly, it’s going to be hard to convince him to leave. They feel like they’re laying the groundwork for the 2017 free agency by getting in front of him now, telling the story of their organization and how they view his future with them, and that maybe they get another crack at him next summer.
I’m extremely skeptical Durant would sign a 1+1 contract anywhere but Oklahoma City. Every other team would need to carve out cap space to sign him to his max salary in 2017 (unless a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is ratified with different rules).
How can another team clear cap room for Durant this summer, build a competitive roster for 2016-17 and still have max cap room in 2017? If it’s not unfeasible, it’s close.
The Thunder are different, because they’d have his Bird Rights in 2017 after a one-year contract. They wouldn’t need cap space to give him his max next summer.
I do believe that teams – especially the Heat (dealing with Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane this summer), Celtics (not yet added another complementary star) and Clippers (minimal roster flexibility) – will push for Durant to become a free agent again in 2017. Durant’s re-signing with Oklahoma City on a one-year contract must be a lot of teams’ second choice over him choosing them.
That’s not true for the Warriors, the consensus No. 2 in the race. They can create cap room this summer, and if Durant doesn’t come, they’ll have to invest in longer-term options. They’re too good to put everything on hold another year (which is why them signing him to a 1+1 and leaving max 2017 cap space for him is practically unworkable).