Kevin Durant owes the Thunder – and himself – one more year in OKC

Kevin Durant owes Oklahoma City a year.

After everything he and that franchise have been through, it would be unfair not only to the Thunder but, more importantly, to himself if he were to leave town now. He’s come too damn far.

Durant, a free agent, will meet with several teams in the coming week, including the Knicks, the Warriors, the Heat and the Celtics. In those meetings the teams will present their visions of the future. For Durant, who’s spent his entire professional career with one franchise, it’s a chance for him to see how business is done elsewhere.

But no master plan, no pitch, be it from Phil Jackson or Steve Kerr or Danny Ainge or Pat Riley, will make as much sense as the one Durant will find back in Oklahoma City, at least for next year.

Before we get to the basketball thing, let’s just look at the cash – Durant stands to make a lot, lot more money if he signs a one-year deal with the Thunder next year. Our friends atSB Nation have illustrated it nicely for us.

With the salary cap set to leap next year, it makes all the sense in the world for Durant to sign a one-year contract with the Thunder and then evaluate where things are going.

Kevin Durant is just 26, but is already a four-time NBA scoring champion.

He should do this for basketball reasons as well. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti had the trade of this offseason when he flipped Serge Ibaka into Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft, Domantas Sabonis (son of the great Arvydas). Durant made it clear he approved of the trade.

Durant and the Thunder were a game away from making the NBA Finals this year, and they just got better. They’re deeper, they improved defensively, they have a better backcourt, and with Steven Adams developing into a real NBA center, they’re only going to be stronger next season.

Durant owes it to himself and Russell Westbrook after the work they’ve done to try and win a title together. (Though I am perversely fascinated to see what would happen if Durant left. I think Westbrook would drop 40 a game next season. Or he’d boil up and turn into a rage monster and become the next Marvel supervillain. One or the other.)

The only other team that can get Durant a title is the Golden State Warriors, who will offer the other most compelling pitch from a basketball standpoint. But for Durant, there will be question marks in Golden State. How will he mesh with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson? How will he get along with Draymond Green? Will there be enough shots to go around? Can he score like he’s used to scoring, or will he have to defer to the stars already in place there?

There are none of those questions in Oklahoma City. It’s his team and Westbrook’s team. Oladipo is a defense-first guy. Ilyasova is a complimentary shooter. Adams just wants to bash elbows and call people mate. He knows how it will work there.

With everything Durant has been through with this franchise, from the move from Seattle to all the work he’s done in Oklahoma City, it doesn’t make sense to cut loose now. He helped bring professional basketball to OKC. He’s seen the city develop and aided in that development, becoming a leader for the community in the process.

Financially, it makes sense for him to stay. Basketball wise, it makes sense for him to stay. Community-wise, it makes sense for him to stay.

He owes the Thunder, Oklahoma City and himself another year there.

Source: MSN Sports

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