Durant Has Earned The Right To Make His Own Free-Agency Decision

VIDEO: Durant burns Nuggets for 36 points in preseason

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The drum beat has already begun for Kevin Durant.

The endless line of questioning, the non-stop speculation and the outright rumors (and lies) about what he’s going to do as a free agent three summers from now is officially a part of our daily NBA conversation. I hate it for Durant and I hate for his Oklahoma City Thunder, whose organic quest for a championship has been one of the better storylines the league has seen in recent seasons.

“Small-market superstars dig in and battle the big-city superstars for supremacy.” It had the makings of great drama from the very start … Durant and Russell Westbrook — and James Harden and even Jeff Green at one time — joining forces in OKC to challenge the establishment.

But like all good things, the reality and the bottom-line nature of the business threatens to derail it completely. ESPN’s Jalen Rose has already fired the first shot, predicting that Rose will bolt for Houston and a seat alongside Harden and Dwight Howard on a championship quest those two stars are just starting.

“I think that after he plays out the couple years on his contract that he goes to Houston to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden,” Rose said in this clip on Grantland.com’s video YouTube channel.

That’s a bold statement indeed, and based on the recent history of stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Howard, one that should not be dismissed. The reality for all of these stars is that they will be faced with a similar stay-or-go dilemma at some point in their careers. And the entire drama will be played out in public, with a huge assist from social media.

I’m not nearly as convinced as Rose is about Durant bolting. Durant’s response to Rose’s claim in an interview with the Oklahoman‘s Darnell Mayberry should calm any immediate fears:

Q: Did you hear what Jalen Rose said about the Houston thing?
A: Yep.

Do you have any thoughts on that?
Nah, I’m here for the Thunder (laughs). I mean, that’s all I can say. I’m not thinking far down the line at all. It’s about today. Today we got better against the Chicago Bulls. I can’t tell the future. I can’t speak on that. That’s his opinion. I’m just going to keep playing for the Thunder. I love playing here.

People probably will continue to say that for the next three years.

How do you deal with that?
I mean, just let them know I’m not thinking that far down the line, I guess. I mean, I love my teammates. I love where I live. I love playing for this organization. So I’m just taking it a day at a time.

But whatever the three-time scoring champ decides to do, whatever choice he makes in free agency in the summer of 2016, he will have earned the right to make a decision of his own. He’s given the Thunder everything a city and its fan base could ever dream of, short of that Larry O’Brien trophy he is still pursuing.

If Durant decides in two years that he’d rather chase it elsewhere, so be it.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti lives with that reality daily. He knows that there are no guarantees in free agency, not even with a transcendent talent like Durant, whose loyalty to the Thunder has never wavered.

The doesn’t meant these next two seasons won’t be an absolute nightmare for Presti and his crew. That speculation that drives the day for so many will be magnified behind the walls of the Thunder’s headquarters. The way LeBron left Cleveland, Carmelo left Denver and Dwight left Orlando has forced every team to take stock of their situations a bit differently.

And unlike a hometown star like Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Durant’s roots in Oklahoma City don’t run deeper than the six seasons he’s spent with the franchise.

The Thunder also have to deal with the reality of their own situation. There have been some dents in the organization’s armor of late. When Westbrook suffered his knee injury during the 2013 playoffs, the entire world (and more importantly, the rest of the league) got a glimpse of just how vulnerable OKC can be when one of their big two is out.

That deep team that had home-court advantage in The Finals against the Heat two years ago is no more. They’re no longer viewed as that precious team on the rise. They are now a part of the very establishment they were challenging just three years ago.

The perception of what this team is and the reality of what this team is presents the dilemma for Durant that is no doubt coming. Fearless predictions or not, Durant will be a free agent in the foreseeable future. He and his representation, as well as the Thunder’s brain trust, need to be prepared to address it.

Whatever the final outcome, it is (and was) Durant’s decision to make. If he’s learned anything from his contemporaries and the way they handled their business, that should be at the forefront of his mind when we actually get closer to July of 2016. He has to own this decision!


  1. HangtimeBlogTroll2013 says:

    Bold Predictions 2014-15: Melo and Durant become Lakers

  2. HangtimeBlogTroll2013 says:

    Durant is T-Mac 2.0

  3. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    See, rumors like this are just worthless rumors.

    Wasn’t there a rumor earlier stating Rajan Rondo would leave the Celtics? Did that happen? No. Rondo will probably stay with the Celtics for long time.

  4. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Let me just repeat one more time to reinforce: OKC Thunder will NEVER allow Kevin Durant to be a Free Agent.

    Thus, all of this is worthless conjecture. They ensure they lock up players like KD and Westbrook to extensions well before they’re even close to Free Agency.

  5. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Gee, I wonder who is going to be a Free Agent in the year 3050.

  6. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Kevin Durant is currently on a long-term contract with OKC Thunder. He’ll probably sign a longer deal well before his current contract is up. OKC won’t allow him to be a Free Agent. They’ll make sure they extend his OKC career, when the time comes. Same exact thing goes for Westbrook. They have more than enough cap space to keep the best 1-2 tandem in the NBA.

    Jalen Rose doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Durant is way better with Ibaka and Westbrook. I’d rather have Ibaka than Howard. I’d rather have Westbrook than Harden.

    I predict the Thunder will get the #1 seed and will return to the Finals and probably win it all. I predict KD will win the MVP award and probably the scoring title as well.

    I predict Stephen Adams and Jeremy Lamb are going to be secret weapons that will help OKC for a very long time.

  7. tanibanana says:

    He should go to a team that would compliment his style..
    Three years from now is really far considering how busy NBA
    tams juggle their players.. I wish we wins a championship ring
    even once… Go to Celtics!

  8. Seth jay says:

    Durant u should go to the spurs

  9. JMaine says:

    Shut up lame reason to look down on a player. Teams will always be there but a player has so long in his prime and i would never waste the little time i have in my prime for a team that dose not come through on they’re part. The player deserve to pick they’re own career path after the rookie contract. You think Chris Paul would still be in L.A. if they went about business the same way they did in the past. The NBA teams has as much responsibility to produce for they’re star player as he dose for them. Grow up with your black and white reasoning. Stupidest things I’ve read in a while, “I hold no admiration for players who bolt their teams (i.e. melo, james, howard,etc.) its a different story when theyre traded (harden, garnett, pierce, etc) I hold in high esteem those who spend their careers in one place (duncan, bryant, nowitski)” if you don’t like a player just don’t like them but don’t hate cuz they don’t do what you want them to do. Sad thing is some of those players u mention bout staying and traded ask to leave or made the team make a team or they were leaving. At least know what your talking about. Lame.

  10. Jeremaine Prieto says:

    I hold no admiration for players who bolt their teams (i.e. melo, james, howard,etc.) its a different story when theyre traded (harden, garnett, pierce, etc) I hold in high esteem those who spend their careers in one place (duncan, bryant, nowitski)

  11. Mark says:

    Ahmm U really think that a 3 time NBA Champion will be considering leaving?

  12. Tony Moua says:

    Durant should play in la with chris paul or chicago with derrik rose I see champions for both duos.

  13. BAMMC says:

    3 years from now Steven Adams will be a beast making the final piece for OKC to be a championship team. Heard it here first, he’s going no-where. OKC- best drafters in the league

  14. Little Teapot says:

    Didn’t Durant earn the right to make his own free agency decision by being born in America?

  15. Bojeezy says:

    I could see Durant going to a team like the Dallas Mavericks. Where he would replace one of the best power forwards of all time.

    I see Jalen Rose line of thinking where the appeal of playing in his home State with other big name stars. I also see him going to Dallas which is a pretty good organization that will spend to surround him with other good or role players. Or he can just chose to stay on the team he is on now.

    OKC is still a team to contend with and unless Westbrook plans to go elsewhere I don’t see Durant leaving just to try to build chemistry with a new team.

  16. Don't ever CLICK MY NAME!!!! You Have been warned says:

    3 Years is a long time to be thinking of free agency, we will accept him in Miami though hahahaha

    • e says:

      In three years when Dwayne Wade’s gonna be probably done because of injuries, if not retired (yes, very bold statement of mine) it would be very fun to watch LeBron and Durant as one of the greatests duos ever.

  17. Freida says:

    The organization decided to get rid of Harden who was so needed on OKC, even if he was not good in the playoffs against Miami. There is a big hole in OKC right now. The best players want to win a championship and if they need to find a better team, so let it be.

  18. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    Not gunna happen. Jalen Rose was drunk

  19. Would be a very powerful lineup there with durant…definitely a championship caliber team that would stay in tact for a very long time…longer than the heat

  20. Ro says:

    So wait he’s a free agent in 3 summers from now?!
    Who. Cares.

    • Stu says:

      Agreed. I read all of this article for some reason, let’s hope we don’t need to hear about this again for a couple of years. Bring on the season opener