Where Will Kevin Durant Play Next Season?
NBA pundits have long predicted that this will be a very active summer for several teams. The NBA salary cap is set to rise from $70 million to approximately $90 million thanks to the TV deal the league signed in 2014. As a result, many teams will be armed with cap space next summer, setting them up to offer sizeable contracts to this year’s crop of free agents. Among the list of free agents this summer is Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, who will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
On June 7th, Irish sportsbook Paddy Power posted odds on what team Durant will play for next season. Several days later, Sportsbook.com updated their odds for the first time since the start of the 2015-16 season. The table below compares the latest updates from Paddy Power and Sportsbook.com.
|Team||Bookmaker (6/28/16)||Sportsbk (6/23/16)||Sportsbk (6/10/16)||Paddy Power (6/7/16)||Sportsbk (11/3/15)|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||-227||-800||-800||-500||-300|
|Golden State Warriors||+385||+400||N/A||+2000||N/A|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+6000||+2000||+2500||+3300||+400|
|San Antonio Spurs||+714||+2000||+2500||+700||N/A|
|New York Knicks||+2593||+2000||+3000||+5000||+2000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+2096||+2500||+2000||+5000||+2500|
|Portland Trail Blazers||N/A||+2500||+2500||N/A||N/A|
The biggest takeaway is that oddsmakers believe that Durant will re-sign with Thunder, which has long been speculated within the NBA community since it is in Durant’s best financial interest. After the 2016-2017 season, Durant will have played 10 seasons, which under the current NBA collective bargaining agreement, makes him eligible to earn a max contract worth 35% of the cap. The 2014 MVP is certainly worth every cent of that. In order to secure that lucrative contract, Durant would likely sign a one-year contract with the Thunder at the maximum salary and then pursue a long-term deal after the ’16-’17 season.
Another factor that may impact Durant’s decision is the status of Russell Westbrook, who will be a free agent after ’16-’17 season. Westbrook and Durant went up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals against last year’s NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. With the Thunder only a victory away from going to the NBA finals, Durant and Westbrook might want to give it one last go together, especially with most of OKC’s roster remaining the same next season.
However, there is no guarantee that Durant re-signs with the Thunder. He could do what fellow superstar LeBron James did and go home. For Durant, home is Washington DC, which is also where the Washington Wizards (+600) play. The team also hired former Thunder head coach Scott Brooks to a multi-year deal, setting up the storybook coming home story. That’s great and all; however, according to a report from The Vertical’s Chris Mannix, sources close to Durant believe that he will not sign with Washington.
Interestingly enough, the Golden State Warriors (+400) have the second-highest odds of signing Durant despite being unlisted when these odds were first posted at Sportsbook.com. The Warriors have been mentioned by some as potential suitors in the Durant sweepstakes. In order for this dream to become a reality, Golden State would need to part ways with some of their key players in order to create the cap room to sign Durant.
Where do you think Durant will sign? Will he remain with the Thunder? Is Durant to Washington the next feel-good coming home story? Is there a mystery team that will lure him away from OKC? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.