Blog Entry

Kevin Durant 'curious' about free agency bonanza

Posted on: May 15, 2011 6:34 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 6:40 pm
Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant says he is "curious" about what a free agency recruitment would be like. Posted by Ben Golliver. kevin-durant

Nearly everyone in the world loves Oklahoma City All-Star forward Kevin Durant. One major reason for that: the hyper-talented, two-time NBA scoring champ quietly agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Thunder last summer without asking for so much as a player option on the deal's final year. 

Contrasted with LeBron James' "The Decision," Durant's extension came off as both humble and loyal, two qualities that many believe have been lost among modern superstars in professional sports.

Just one year later, though, Durant is apparently singing a slightly different tune. In an feature, Durant admits a part of him is curious about experiencing a free agency recruitment period, the likes of which James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ama're Stoudemire enjoyed last summer.
Asked if any inch of him wanted to someday experience his own summer of LeBron, Durant said: "You said an inch, so I'll take that inch. One inch of my mind just wants to experience that, see what it's like, you know. I've been through the recruitment process, of course, going to college, but I want to see how that is. I'm not saying that I want to go to another team or I want to go to a greater market. But just how much it was publicized this summer, I just want to see what that's like. I'm an interested person, I'm a curious person. And once again, I'm not trying to say I want to leave or anything. But I just want to see how that is.

"I'll be 27 when my contract's up. So maybe when I'm 27 … But you never know. Two or three years down the line, I might sign another extension here. So we'll see. We'll see. But right now, I'm happy where I'm at, I'm glad I'm locked in for five years."
Obviously, it's way, way too early for Thunder fans to panic at Durant's honesty. Five years is five years.

Earlier this week, we noted an report that the NBA owners and the Players Association are considering adding a franchise tag to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to give additional advantages to incumbent teams to help them keep their star players. Durant is the quintessential example of the type of player on whom a franchise tag would be used. If and when he reaches the end of his current extension, he will be 27 years old and just entering his prime. His market value and league-wide interest will never be greater. But he'll also have established a nine-year relationship with the Thunder organization and an eight-year relationship with small-market Oklahoma City and its fans. 

In other words, if there's a "franchise tag" in place, Durant's "curiousity" could cost him more than it cost James and Bosh, for example. Both of those players left money on the table to facilitate their moves to Miami from Cleveland and Toronto, respectively, but it wasn't a substantial, decision-changing sum. To James and Bosh, the chance to team up to win a championship far outweighed the financial benefits of loyalty.

But what if the Cavaliers and Raptors had been able to throw more -- a lot more -- money at them in the form of greater guarantees or additional year(s) at the end of the deal that come with a franchise tag. Would there have been a point where money became the deciding factor again? Probably. Everything has a price, right?

If it's the attention that Durant is seeking, he'll get that no matter what. But if it's a new market or a new challenge, that could cost wind up costing him.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 1:33 am

Kevin Durant 'curious' about free agency bonanza

Nearly all the young stars in the NBA sign their first max extension when offered. The CBA makes this the wise move. But the normal contract extension for five years offers an opt-out after three or four. This is because the CBA defines max contract as 25% of salary cap for years 1-6 and 30% for years 7-10 and then 35% after 10 years. So opting out does not necessarily mean a player wants to change teams but can make millions more by resigning a new contract after 7 or 10 years.

Last summer the media made a big play about Durant signing his extension. It was really a no-brainer and all the comparisons between LeBron and Durant were premature. Noted, however, in Durant's response was the term '1 inch' which I take to mean a very small part of his brain is musing about this. Durant loves being in a one team town and being the focal point of that team. But it is Oklahoma City and he did fail to garner support for MVP even as he won his second consecutive scoring title. If he were playing in New York there is little question that he would be MVP this year.

The path of Westbrook is also important to consider for Durant. There are times when Westbrook is brilliant in finding an open Durant at the basket. There are other games when Westbrook appears to want to be 'the man' and takes most of the shots himself. If Westbrook were to leave or have issues with Durant being the primary star that team may struggle to win. So the future is hard to forsee. In any case allow Durant his musing for now and enjoy the games. He has five more years.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:31 pm

Kevin Durant 'curious' about free agency bonanza

I'm curious what it's like to be a millionaire . . .  Seriously?  Has it come to this?!?!? 

Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:14 pm

Kevin Durant 'curious' about free agency bonanza

I get so tired of hearing about players being "humble and loyal". No one EVER says that when players are dumped when they are no longer of use to a team.  Neither fans, nor owners are humble and loyal, and players should not be either. Are members of the media "humble and loyal"?  Of course not!!!  When a chance to make more money comes their way, they take it. How many media members stay at their first job because of loyalty????  NONE!!!!!

Since: Jul 26, 2008
Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:00 pm

Kevin Durant 'curious' about free agency bonanza

Yawn! Any player at that pedigree would have a curiosity of the process. Not a groundbreaking discovery there. Congrats to the Thunder on their Western Conference Finals appearance. Thunder Up!

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