Kevin Durant would reportedly sign a two-year contract that includes an opt-out clause with any NBA team – not just the Oklahoma City Thunder – in order to hit the free agent market again in 2017.
Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical spoke with CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” on Monday and said that the Thunder remain strong favorites, but Durant is open to a one year opt-out elsewhere.
“I think that Oklahoma City remains the frontrunner – and a strong frontrunner,” Wojnarowski said. “I’m told even if he left, he would do a one-year deal. Economically, it makes sense for him to do a one-year deal and then do the longer deal after it. It’ll be worth more money because the cap goes up next year.”
Wojnarowski thinks the chances of Durant staying in Oklahoma City are so great that he feels many teams set to meet with the star are making their pitch for 2017.
“Listen, they’d love to get him now, but they kind of feel like they’re planting the seed and laying the ground work for next year,” Wojnarowski said. “They all know he’s likely to stay in OKC. They feel like they’re laying the groundwork for the 2017 free agency by getting in front of him now and maybe they get another crack at him next summer.”
Part of the reason the Thunder are such a heavy favorite may be simple salary cap logistics. The Thunder are the only team that can offer Durant both a championship-ready roster as well as a max deal for one year without going over the cap. The Celtics are the only team with the cap space to sign him without restructuring their roster, but their ability make further roster moves would be limited. Any other team would have to make significant moves to free up the cap room necessary to sign Durant. Nobody would get his Bird rights if and when he opts out in 2017, so these teams would essentially be restructuring their entire roster for one year of Durant and then have to have max cap room again in 2017 to retain him.
If Durant is thinking of, say, this already-optimistic team, they’re not going to overhaul an entire roster that is already set to contend for one year of Durant. Staying in Oklahoma City for a one-year max deal before opting out and signing long-term in 2017 is simply the most reasonable solution for everyone involved.