Because this is summer and the off-season, things a superstar like Kevin Durant says regarding his future with the Oklahoma City Thunder or his path to the Washington Wizards which in any case won’t be decided in the next two years, seem a lot more meaningful than they actually are.
Durant grew up around the Washington DC area. He playing college basketball in Texas. He’s been playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder since entering the league in 2007. Yes, he already has seven NBA seasons behind him. All of them with the Thunder, although his rookie season was as a Seattle Supersonics player, before Clay Bennett packed a franchise in a suitcase and went somewhere willing to give him a new arena without him paying for it.
Durant is marking down all the achievements he set out for himself one by one. All of them, or almost all of them. He wanted to be number one, so he won the MVP award last season. He has an Olympic gold medal as the leading scorer on the dream team despite Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant playing next to him. He has a Basketball World Championship from 2010, and he’s leading Team USA into the 2014 edition as well.
But what’s missing? A championship. Durant has been once to the finals, in 2012. Everyone said that it was just the first in many for the young Thunder, who had an incredible core of four players under the age of 23 with Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden. Then James Harden got traded, while the Thunder juggled around that move by trying to keep themselves on top of the Western conference without spending too much. It hasn’t worked. Great regular season records, but they’ve failed to return to the NBA finals in the last two seasons.
Durant is envious of James. It took LeBron James nine years to finally become a champion, losing in two NBA finals along the way. Moving back to Cleveland was different for him. He got what he wanted out of Miami, and was finally free to head back to his original destination, making a connection of money, desire, heart and maybe seeking some Ohio forgiveness along the way.
Durant, unlike James, never “betrayed” Washington. Yet he feels a connection, obviously, with where he grew up. But he won’t be going back to Washington for sentimental reasons. He’ll head over there in two years only under certain conditions, and the most important of them will be where he stands in terms of winning a championship. If the Wizards emerge as a team that has a shot of signing him and surrounding him premier talent, than they’ll look a lot more lucrative than they have in past seasons, although it does seem like they’re headed in the right direction.
This is some thick hint dropping. For the Thunder, to let them know that he wants to see them spend, or willing to spend, in order to add more talent and depth to this team. It’s also a hint to the Wizards and maybe the rest of the NBA to start calculation their cap spaces for two years from now, when Durant will be the hottest name in the free agency market.