This was the year Kevin Durant fell out of the headlines, but one healthy season and he’ll be looking like an MVP again, and then will come the 2016 free agency period, in which he will have the option of leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, while everyone with a little bit of money will be chasing him.
Why everyone? Well, almost everyone is going to have a lot of money available due to the magical rise in the salary cap, from around $67 million to $89 million. It also means max contracts are going to go through a huge spike, but just like the two LeBron James free agency periods, a lot of teams will be aiming to make it possible for them to sign Durant.
So who will he sign for?
Staying on the Thunder, assuming Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are also there for the long run, makes the most sense. It’s more money for him, it’s the team he has almost been able to win a championship with, and the city he still “owes” a title to. Obviously, there are other things to consider, but when things are good, and the 2014-2015 season was an injury infested anomaly, why leave, especially when the Thunder, when healthy, are just as good as anyone else in the league?
The Washington Wizards rise as the main contenders. Why? Because it’s his hometown, and it’s a team with enough talent to make him feel that possibly it’ll offer him the combination of playing where he grew up and be immediately ready to win a championship, although just like LeBron James, the moment Kevin Durant signs with a team it becomes close to a title contender. With guys like John Wall and Bradley Beal? As Donnie Brasco says, forget about it.
The Toronto Raptors might be an option as well. The Raptors offer a very similar backcourt to what the Wizards have and although they don’t have that frontcourt, things can change drastically in a year. The main problem is how the Raptors don’t seem to be a very big free agent attraction, so that probably keeps them out of this loop. There’s parity in the NBA, but you can’t force players to sign in places they don’t want to play.
What about the Los Angeles Lakers? Kobe Bryant (probably) won’t be there after next season, which means a room opens up for an alpha male, not to mention a whole lot of money. Will Durant be dazzled by what Los Angeles has to offer? Maybe it depends on how their young core (Randle, Clarkson and rookie) perform this season. Russell Westbrook is the player usually mentioned with the Lakers, but Durant can just as easily be swayed.