OKLAHOMA CITY — Taken at face value, Kevin Durant was just complimenting veteran forward David West for his decision to value professional goals over financial ones by joining the Spurs.
West turned down a $12.6-million contract option with the Pacers to sign for the veteran’s minimum of $1.5 million in San Antonio and has played a key role coming off the bench all season.
But with his own impending free agency looming ahead in July, nothing about Durant is taken at face value these days. So there were raised eyebrows when he was asked about West’s decision to leave more than $11 million on the table.
“I respect it,” Durant said. “Money isn’t everything in this life. I know we tend to think about taking care of your family, being financially stable. But from the outside looking in, it looks like he said, ‘Well, I’ve been blessed to make X amount and I’ll be chasing something that’s the grand prize in this league.’ So I respect him for it. A lot of guys wouldn’t have done it.”
That comment surely will feed the speculation that Durant could look outside the only franchise that’s ever played for in his nine-year NBA career when he hits free agency on July 1. In addition to the familiarity and comfort level he’s developed in OKC over the years, the Thunder can offer Durant more money than any potential suitor, an extra year with a player option worth $30 million over the life of the deal.
Trailing 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinal series, Durant is potentially playing his final home game in OKC when the Thunder face the Spurs Sunday night in Game 4.