Durant dilemma in OKC: How Thunder’s collapse will affect NBA Free Agency

Golden State’s Game 7 win at the Oracle Arena Monday night entailed two entirely different headlines for the Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder series: one of the biggest collapses or greatest comebacks in NBA Post Season history. Emphasizing their historic 73 game winning season, the Warriors will continue to make headlines; however, conversations will also include the future of Durant and Thunder after throwing away a 3-1 series lead.

While it was a historic comeback for Golden State, OKC’s heartbreaking loss was almost too evident to ignore. After seeing his teammate being completely dumbstruck by the loss, Kevin Durant found Guard Deion Waters at mid-court and immediately hugged him, knowing the totality of the defeat.

Thunder’s star forward played the leadership role to the best of his ability, trying to will his team to win on a personal 6-0 run late in the 4th quarter, cutting the lead to just four. The Thunder simply just did not have enough late in the game; however, the scoring champion and former MVP showed his worth against an incredible record-breaking team in a hostile environment.

Shortly after the Thunder had lost, Durant as expected, was asked about his future with the team. In the post game press conference, Durant quickly dismissed any free-agency plans.

“We just lost like 30 minutes ago, so I haven’t even thought about it yet,” said Durant. “I’m just embracing my teammates…reflecting on the season.”

While these comments seemed to be somewhat expected, the questions on the MVP’s future are justifiable as Kevin Durant will become unrestricted free agent on July 1.

NBA Insiders are already projecting a four-year deal worth $111 million if Durant decides to leave the team this summer. If Durant obliges to stay with OKC and decides on a 1-year contract with a player option to protect himself, he signs for about $27 million. Ultimately, this would put OKC’s star forward in a position next year to agree to a huge five-year deal with the team, worth over $200 million.

Ryen Russillo and Adnan Virk hosted the topic on the Russillo and Kanell show this morning on ESPN, stating that Durant has better options with OKC than in NBA Free Agency. Russillo prompted a logical scenario, “do you want to play for $38 or $28 million a year?”

ESPN’s Russillo and Virk touched on several options that Durant can make in OKC; based on their perspective, there is a higher ceiling for the superstar to remain in. The two also had a positive analysis for the Thunder, giving credit for a thrilling NBA Post Season run.

There are many questions not only coming into play with Durant, but also Russell Westbrook – OKC’s second superstar is going to become unrestricted free agent the following year.

Shocking the league with the blow out wins from games 3 and 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals, Westbrook was as big as a part as Durant in defending their home court. Westbrook had Klay Thompson-like numbers from the 3-point mark, and reminded everyone how special the 6’7’’ Point Guard was.

After seeing the Westbrook and Durant dominate the Warriors in those two games at home made me think about how unstoppable the tandem can be, and doubted the possibility of end such a great legacy in OKC, however perspective is somewhat spoiled by there huge collapse in the series. While losing three straight games to end the series in defeat seemed to be a near impossible feat, the new harsh emphasizes doubt in OKC.

There have been rumors earlier in the postseason that Durant may leave the team if OKC loses this year, whether it is losing the Western Conference Finals or the NBA Finals, one can suspect Durant’s discontent for not winning the chip. Whether the trade rumors are factual or not, there is an overall feeling of Durant’s eagerness. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Durant has already interesting from the Rockets, Heat, Celtics, Spurs, and even the
Warriors.

Where will he go next?

Interesting to see the Rocket’s front office pursue Durant, and if they can convince him to join forces with James Harden again. This would be an interesting scenario, but it is very unlikely based on the large competition against other teams in the NBA.

As a Miami fan, it would be an incredible, possible miraculous trade if Durant went to the Heat; the thought would be ludicrous to some people in the NBA, but in an unbiased perspective, this could be an intriguing trade to join a talented team that could dominate the NBA Eastern Conference.

Not sure how the Warriors would be able to have room for Durant, seems like the team has investments in the entire team; there would be questions on the team chemistry, and obviously on sharing the ball. The overall census is that Durant will remain in OKC, but hostility rises in OKC as Durant will have plenty of options to look at during free agency.

Photo By: Keith Allison (Flickr: Kevin Durant) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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