His own man, KD will make own decision

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Take a look at Kevin Durant and Team USA as they practice

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Here’s what we’ve learned about Kevin Durant through his first seven seasons in the league: He’s his own man, capable of independent thought and making intelligent, well-reasoned decisions.

He chose to sign a five-year extension in 2010 without demanding an option for an early out. To ensure maximum appeal as a corporate pitchman, he strategically didn’t tattoo areas of his body visible when in uniform. A few years ago a stunned public discovered that Durant’s uniform-covered torso resembles Allen Iverson.

He is the league’s reigning MVP coming off a grueling season in which he logged a league-high 3,121 regular-season minutes followed by a postseason-high 814 minutes (even though his Oklahoma City Thunder lost in six games in the Western Conference finals), yet he remained committed to Team USA, currently holding camp in Las Vegas. Remember, this squad will compete in the upcoming world championships in Spain (recast as the FIBA World Cup). This is not an Olympic year or even an Olympic-qualifying year. Durant doesn’t have to be here. He chose to be here.

And he’s a big story in Vegas. Everybody wants to know if, inspired by LeBron James‘ homecoming, he’ll leave the Thunder for his long-suffering hometown Washington Wizards in 2016 when he becomes a free agent.

In the NBA it’s never too early to spin theoretical free-agent story lines. Mostly because NBA front offices are actively planning for the Durant sweepstakes. Teams have to align contracts today to ensure available salary cap in two summers just to be in the chase. The NBA is a star-driven league and Durant (with potential 2015 free agent Kevin Love likely headed to Cleveland in a trade) is the next available fast track to contention.

And yes, the up-and-coming Wizards are preparing. Who wouldn’t love to add Durant to the promising backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal? Washington’s books are in line for summer ’16, and you might have heard they hired a new player development assistant, David Adkins. Adkins? He was an assistant at Durant’s alma mater Montrose Christian in Maryland, and is said to be close to Durant. The plot thickens.

Fine, but any insinuation that Northeast Ohio’s re-embracing of LeBron tugged Durant’s heartstrings toward D.C. is a reach. The Cavs drafted the locally loved Akron phenom out of high school. He elevated the hometown NBA franchise to a Finals appearance in 2007 and three years later stomped on the hearts of his faithful with the incredibly insensitive “Decision.” Four Finals runs and two championships with the Miami Heat later, LeBron, all grown up, decided it was time to mend fences. Great story.

It’s not Durant’s story. Durant did tell reporters Tuesday that he grew up taking the train to Georgetown games, although he left home to play college ball 1,300 miles away at Texas. He was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007 and the next season moved with the franchise to Oklahoma City, a close-knit town he’s professed his love for countless times, and as recently as his MVP speech for the ages.

The Thunder are perennial contenders. Durant holds close relationships with coach Scott Brooks, as well as teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and many others in the organization. Most of all, Durant willingly immersed himself in the community. When he won the MVP, the city declared him “OKC’s MVP.” The governor and state representatives attended the ceremony.

If he were to leave OKC, it’s not a stretch to suggest that community will be more devastated than D.C. will be elated. With Durant, 25, in a Thunder uniform, the championship window is open-ended.

But hey, a lot can happen in two years. The Thunder could win a championship. Or two. Or maybe they don’t and Durant’s patience runs thin, after all he’ll be nine years in by the summer of ’16. Maybe the Durant-Westbrook relationship sours. Maybe Brooks gets fired. Maybe Durant ultimately decides he wants to play for a billionaire owner more responsive to spending when the moment calls.

So maybe Durant does go home, even though the number of stars who have gone home pales to those who never do when given the chance. We’ve seen Durant don Washington NFL gear and — not sure if anybody’s pointed this out — he’s got a Washington Nationals logo tattooed above his belly button. Durant does love his D.C. sports.

So maybe he does go home. Or perhaps, as was speculated when Durant hired Jay-Z to represent him, he goes to the Knicks or Nets. They’ll all be in line (yep, even the Nets will be flush with cap space by then).

Yes, the script that has Durant riding a white horse into Washington, where the Wizards/Bullets haven’t won a title since a decade before Durant was born, is real. It could happen. Durant could also play 20 seasons in OKC.

“I’m going to do what’s best for me,” Durant told reporters in Vegas. “It’s hard to talk about that right now when I’ve got two years left in Oklahoma City. I’m just going to focus on that. I’m not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does.”

Durant might as well memorize those lines. He’ll need to cue them up over and over during these next two years.

But what we’ve learned of him over the last seven years is Kevin Durant is his own man.

27 Comments

  1. Carlo says:

    A thousands words to say “Everything could happen.”

    OK. Let’s move on.

  2. nbafan says:

    I can see him going to Wizards, Rockets, Toronto, or LA if he does leave. However, if he leaves, I think he should go to the Spurs so he can be mentored by Pop before he retires.

  3. helose says:

    you know what will happens guys

    “‘i’ll give my best i’m glad to be here, it was soooo dificult BUT i have to make the best choice for me and my familly”

    and the thunders will sign luol deng. ho wait

  4. KDfan says:

    We love KD here in Oklahoma, unconditionally and will continue to do so. He is not polarizing like LBJ is. Sometimes you have to let the person you love loose and let them find their peace. Isn’t that we all do with our kids? KD is “Oklahoma’s Son”.

    • Carlo says:

      Let’s see if KD leaves OKC – like LBJ leaving CLE – and then if he’ll be not “polarizing” like LBJ.

  5. borodisca says:

    just because lbj headed back home journalists are now building a whole case on durant going back to dc for no reason at all.
    this is in my opinion an example of bad journalism.

  6. RogueGhost24 says:

    If I were Durant I would have left that hell hole a long time ago. That’s just another reason that he’s worshiped like a god there. But yes, I would have been off to a place where I could win. It will require a lot of pieces to keep him there in a few years because he’s going to have to shoulder more and more of the load as Westbrook and Ibaka succumb to injury or move on.

  7. jake s. says:

    KD is a very respectful man with a lot on his plate. I saw him hanging out at a hookah lounge in Tulsa before the start of last season. I had so much respect for him that i didn’t even try to talk to him. Thats the way we are. We are just regular people and that is how he sees himself. He knows that in 20 years his jersey will be hanging from the rafters in OKC… along with multiple championships he helped hang. Why leave a great squad in OKC to go to a decent squad in D.C.? It doesn’t make sense… and KD is a sensible man.

    • Carlo says:

      ‘Cause OKC is stuck with salaries and contracts, expecially that of Westbrook, who’s not a winning PG.

      Maybe KD remains in OKC, maybe he reads the writing on the wall – like LBJ in Miami – and heads away for “rebuilding” team.

    • jake s. says:

      The next time you want to say something about NBA basketball, you need to make sure you check your facts. If you think Westbrook is not a winning player… you need to check again. If you had said Westbrook is not as team oriented as he should be, that would be ok. Don’t just say things because you are blindsided by your own ego.

  8. jumppong says:

    if only james harden still in okc this will be a different story. that is their worst nightmare letting harden go.. durant will leave westbrook will injured his other knee and it will be the end of OKC.

  9. eX says:

    The Lakers need a decent to good player as PG,SG,SF,PF&Center,so count them out, Durant to Houston is more likely, or staying in OK.

  10. thespectator says:

    if kd is really about rings, and okc doesnt win it all this upcoming season, which its pretty safe to say that they wont..he is gone…the west is stacked and will stay this way for a while…spurs are gonna win the title next year..dont matter how much super star talent you got..coach pop and the big 3 in san antonio know how to get it done…if im kd i gotta get out of the west and teamin up wit the wizards would give durant a great shot at atleast the finals

  11. squala96 says:

    The Lakers should really try to get KD on board especially after the failed attempt on Carmelo, who seems to prefer convenience over a championship. Star City has the budget to form a new team around him when Kobe retires. They can start off with a PG that doesn’t take too many ill-advised shots.

  12. harrythehawk says:

    Kevin Durant is committed to the Thunder. However he intends to win championships. If his contract expires and he has no ring, he will leave. And I don’t blame him. He is my favorite player in the NBA and I will be his best fan wherever he ends up.

  13. Kirby Record says:

    Yeah but odds are he will follow Lebon’s example like he did in his MVP speech, doing exactly what James did. Of course, he was praised for being a dutiful son and James was mocked–but that’s how it goes.

  14. cp10 says:

    That’s right, he’s his own man, everybody just leave him alone! This was a nice piece by the way, big thanks to Mr. Caplan. Go USA Basketball!!

  15. Jaleel smith says:

    KD is my favorite player in the league so I’ll follow him through whatever. Sure it would be nice to see him battling through the eastern conference with John Wall and Bradley Beal trying to fend off Lebron and the cavs for the top spot. I just don’t see it happening though. I’m not ruling it out as a possibility for Kevin but I believe it not likely to happen over him staying with OKC or joining another all-star like Paul George in Indiana (this would put Geoge at shooting guard which is his natural position). He could possibly go to Chicago and contend with D-rose and Noah. He could end up in Toronto alongside Lowry and DeRozen (He has said he was a fan of the Raptors Growing up and would love to play for them). He could join CP3 and Blake in L.A seeing as they are good friends and would be one heck of a powerhouse out west. He could join any contender that could come up in the next two years. I believe though that Kevin is going nowhere and will remain in OKC and continue to build his legacy there. I don’t see the orginization not pulling out all the stops in 2016 to keep KD. I believe they will do whatever it takes to keep him and build a championship team around him because he is the face of the franchise and has been since they moved there. I believe Kevin Durant will remain in OKC his entire career.

  16. The Lakers is currently in need of a really good SF. Next year Kobe will be one year from retirement. Steve Nash will be gone and if Clarkson and Randle turns out to be future stars….I would love to see a pairing of JLin(an unselfish pointguard that he’s been looking for), Jordan clarkson, Julius Randle, Carlos Boozer (Preferably a better center, if not well take a pf), and……..Kevin Durant? haha. Let me dream.

  17. bballjunkie1 says:

    I think Durant will make his decsion just like Lebron did wait and see what OKC does or didnt do the next couple of seasons. For Lebron yea he won titles added more MVP hardware so its time to go back home and contribute while u still can. Maybe if OKC doesnt go back to finals he may look at all his options including Washington but something tells me he may end up anywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Max says:

    What IF??KD decided to go to Cavs? What if TV shows a game between Kings & Charlotte? I would fly to watch Lance Stepson guard Marcus Cousin. WOW!!~~ What game that could turn out to be!!~Explosion!!~~~ Can Michael Jordan really contained Stepson??? ONLY time will tell!!!~

  19. jodyfukswitmacdre says:

    He should still be a supersonic. Okc came up on that one. But I do think he’ll stay with thunder. He seems loyal and more aware of legacy then some players. I’d rather not see him sell out.