Oh It's Gonna Be A Loooong Two Years
By Randy Renner
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant still has two more years to go on his current contract but his future contract is already becoming a major part of the national sports narrative.
Yesterday at Team USA training camp in Las Vegas Durant was asked several questions about his future and he got into some pretty detailed answers, some like when he said, "I love Oklahoma City," should ease Thunder fans minds a little bit and some, like when he said, "you have to look at all your options," will probably make Thunder fans a bit jittery.
Durant really doesn't want to think too much about 2016 much less talk about it and try to answer questions that can't really be answered with any certainty right now.
Who knows what things will look like in 2016? Will the Thunder have any NBA Championship banners hanging inside the The Peake by then? Might they even have a couple by then?
"Two years straight (winning titles), that would be cool," he said. "It would definitely be tough to do anything. It's one of those things where you're building a dynasty now winning two in a row."
But what if there aren't any title trophies on the Thunder shelf by 2016? Will the chance to go home and play for the Wizards, who are getting better and better, be what tips KD?
Durant says he certainly doesn't.
"I tell everybody, 'Look, I'm here in Oklahoma City. I love it here. Who knows what will happen?' I will never close the door on anything, but I like where I'm at right now."
But Durant also admitted when asked by reporters that he finds free agency and a chance to take a look around at what things might be like in other places a bit intriguing.
“It’s great to feel wanted,” Durant told the group. “Guys taking four or five trips to see teams. You got to see what’s out there if you’re a free agent. We’re playing in a league that’s so powerful. You can impact so many different people. You have to look at all your options.”
Durant didn't do that when he signed his rookie extension in 2010. Clay Bennett and Sam Presti were on his front porch with a max offer moments after that year's midnight negotiating window opened.
Back then, Durant still a wide-eyed, naïve 21 year old, eagerly signed on for the full five years, instead of choosing the option to opt out after four years like LeBron James did when he signed his deal with Miami.
“To be honest, I just didn’t know. I was 21. I didn’t know,” Durant said. “Obviously, when you sign a deal you want to have the best options for yourself, the best flexibility for yourself. But I loved Oklahoma City so much I just wanted to dedicate and show them that I’m all about the team.”
And he still is. Durant has said time and time again how much he truly loves playing in Oklahoma City and how much he appreciates the unwavering support of his fans. He's opened a restaurant in Bricktown and moved from a gated community on the edge of town right into the middle of the action downtown.
He's donated more than a million dollars to tornado relief efforts in Moore and spends a lot of his time out in the community. When his annual basketball camp on the OU campus in Norman sold out quickly he organized a camp in Moore to take place at about the same time. He'll go back and forth between the two.
And over the next two years he may go back and forth trying to decide what to do with his future. Go to the bright lights of New York or Los Angeles? The beaches of Miami? Stay right here in Oklahoma City or go back home to the District?
“I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards,” Durant said. “I grew up taking the train to that arena all the time to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there. But I love Oklahoma City, too.”
James and Durant are close friends and the national media seems to think that KD will do what LeBron did. Go back home. Durant rebuffed that line of thinking.
"I'm not going to make a decision on anything based on what somebody else does," Durant said. But he did admire the way James told the world what he was planning to do.
"It was a great move to do a letter, that was cool," Durant said of James letter that was published in Sports Illustrated. "It's fun to see a guy think about more than basketball for once ... He thought about the city where he comes from, and Northeast Ohio, and how he can affect so many kids. It's bigger than basketball. I love that."
It is bigger than basketball and Durant, no longer that naïve 21 year old, knows that full well now.