The Oklahoma City Thunder were hearing questions about it all season. Would he leave or would he stay? That guy everyone was speaking of was Kevin Durant. The small forward of the Thunder was playing his last year under his contract with the Thunder this season and many wondered what decision he would make all year long. And at times, many wondered if he would even consider staying in Oklahoma City after they fired a head coach he liked in Scott Brooks and brought in former University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan.
As the season went on, the Thunder were playing well, but they just could not finish games. And although they went through a rough patch, there were some that thought they could be dangerous in the playoffs. And they proved to be, taking down Dallas pretty easy and then knocking off the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the Western Conference Finals. Many expected their journey to end in the Western Conference Finals, as they were facing the record-setting Golden State Warriors. But as the Thunder raced up 3-1, there were some that thought they would actually pull off the upset of the Warriors. But after a collapse that was completed on Monday night, the Thunder are headed home with no one to blame but themselves. They blew a golden opportunity. And now they will watch the Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals like they did last season. But the bigger question for the Thunder is where does Kevin Durant go?
Durant is a spectacular player. He can score from any point on the floor and can put pressure on your defense. But he has unfortunately played a hand in the struggles that Oklahoma City has had when it comes to playing team basketball. The balance of when to take over and when to get others involved as not been his strength. And he and his counterpart for the Thunder, Russell Westbrook, still have trouble knowing when to differ and when to dominate. When you have two players that struggle in that area, there is a thought that they may not be the best fit together. And maybe that thought has creeped into the mind of Durant some. If he has thought about it, then there are some teams that will definitely be trying to obtain his services. Washington was the one team that was mentioned heading into this season, but there may be an issue with signing him to that bigtime deal. The news recently dropped that the Wizards would be matching any offer sheet that Bradley Beal signs this summer. Their intentions are to sign Beal to a max contract. If that happens, then there may not be much they can do in the way of signing Durant to a max deal. The only way he would be able to make it to DC is to take a hometown discount, which is something that has not been hinted at by him and his camp at this time.
Washington would be a homecoming for Durant and would put him with more of a natural point guard in John Wall. But of course there would be more financial things that need to be worked out there. But along with Washington, there is another option that Durant could be looking at. The Miami Heat and Pat Riley have been eyeing Durant for some time now, plotting for the right time to make a move. It just so happens that Kevin Durant is a free agent this summer at a time when Dwyane Wade’s contract is up. Along with Wade’s contract being up, the contracts of Luol Deng, Joe Johnson and Udonis Haslem are up. That could free roughly $33 million in salary cap space this summer. With what Durant could command, the Heat could fit him in pretty easily. But here comes this issue with that. The Heat have to make a decision on center Hassan Whiteside and on guard Dwyane Wade. With Wade, there is more than a certainty that he will sign back to play in Miami for what could be his last contract. He is looking for big money and played very well this season for a guy that was supposedly beat up. And Miami will more than likely give them exactly what they want. As far as Whiteside, there could be a decision there and that could all hinge on Chris Bosh. If Bosh’s health says he cannot come back and play, that frees up cap money for the Heat to potentially sign Whiteside and bring in Durant to play in South Beach. Then the Heat could do what they did in the past, fill in the pieces around the stars with veteran role players and rookies.
Learning how to win a championship under Wade and Heat President Pat Riley would be something that Durant could potentially relish. And with the East being the LeBron James Invitational right now, Durant on the Wizards or Heat would give him some competition. But with all that is being said, Durant could end up staying with Oklahoma City. For the first time since he has been there, he and Russell actually showed that they can get others involved at the right times. And they took the defending champions to seven games as well. That is something that they could potentially build upon next season should Durant re-sign with the Thunder. Also, don’t forget that Durant would be able to get more money if he stayed in Oklahoma City than anywhere else. The max contract would be very big for Durant, netting him one more year and at least ……………………….. (to read the complete article – click on link | http://ow.ly/MDMp300KALX
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former cohost of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Cubs, and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.