Durant Talks Free Agency, Road To Rio
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant was back on his old college campus yesterday for the official release party of his latest Nike sneaker the KD9.
In addition to showing off the shoe he sat down for an interview session on the stage and was asked some questions about his future free agency and the Summer Olympics in Rio.
The answers were pretty much the same ones we’ve heard before.
“I know how important this time is,” Durant said about his free agency which officially begins on July 1st. “Like I've been saying all season, I have people I trust. I have all the trust in the world with them that we'll sit down and figure this thing out, figure out what's best for me.”
KD’s closest advisers are his manager and childhood friend Charlie Bell and his agent Rich Kleiman and he has said before when commenting on rumors about his free agent future if reporters didn’t hear something directly from him, Bell or Kleiman it wasn’t to be trusted and those three have maintained a silence on what they’re thinking and even what the general process might be.
“I know everyone is wondering what's gonna happen. This whole (free agency) thing has become a season, I guess, in the NBA. I know how important it is for everyone else. But I'll take my time, look at what's in front of me and go from there.”
Time is starting to get short, just 10 days (from this writing) until the process officially begins and about three weeks until a new contract could be signed.
Durant is still mum on whether he will sit down for formal presentations from other teams but it’s generally believed he will. And KD has said in the past and repeated again yesterday, the most important issue isn’t money, it’s basketball and the people he’ll be working with most closely.
“It's one of those situations where you work so hard to put yourself in a situation to kinda control your own destiny. I give all the credit to how much work I put in and the people who've helped me put that work in. I'm worrying about basketball. That's what it is for me. It's a basketball decision.”
If that’s truly what it is and there’s certainly no reason to doubt what Durant has been saying for months his best basketball decision (and his best financial decision) would be to stay in Oklahoma City where the Thunder have a proven roster capable of challenging for a championship.
The Thunder wouldn’t have to deal away any assets to be able to afford a new big money contract for KD, other teams, at least great ones like Golden State and San Antonio, would have to make changes in their roster to fit Durant’s money under the salary cap.
Durant could sign a new deal as early as July 7th and he would likely want to have that out of the way by the time training camp workouts begin for Team USA on July 18th because despite health concerns and just the added fatigue of playing more competitive this summer he still wants to play in the Rio Olympics.
“I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it,” he said. “Not all NBA players can play on it. They handpick the best 12 guys in the world to be on the team. That's an accomplishment in itself.”
This year not every NBA player wants to play on the team. In fact KD’s own Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook has pulled out of consideration and so have several other star players including Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall and LaMarcus Aldridge.
A couple of those players have pulled out because of injuries but there is definitely a lot of concern over health and safety issues in Brazil.
But Durant doesn’t seem worried and has pledged to play throughout the process.
By then the free agency questions will surely have been answered either for the next five years or at least for next season.
Until then we wait and so does the rest of the NBA.