There’s been a lot of chatter regarding Kevin Durant’s future with the Oklahoma City Thunder the last few days after Jalen Rose came out and predicted KD would leave for Houston in 2016.
Rose’s comments came with little thought into the situation. He basically seems to think Durant will become mad about the Harden trade and that OKC won’t win a title before Durant’s contract is up.
But Larry Coon of ESPN came in and explained exactly what the options will be for KD’s future.
The Thunder would have the home-court advantage in this situation and could give him a contract totaling $121.4 million over five years, with 7.5 percent annual raises. If he signed with another team, he would be limited to about $90.2 million over four years, with 4.5 percent annual raises. In either case, his starting salary would be about $21.1 million. Any team besides the Thunder would need to clear up at least this much cap room to ink him to a deal. The Thunder could utilize their Bird rights without clearing up cap space.
Durant can make significantly more money staying with OKC. While that is an obvious advantage for the Thunder in attempting to keep their franchise player, Durant may be interested more in winning a title. Also consider that there are states like Texas and Florida where you don’t have to pay state taxes, and you can be marketed better and the money may not even be that huge of a difference at the end of the day.
Really, the key is what the new CBA will look like beginning in 2017-18. Coon writes that it could be one that is more favorable for players or owners. Depending on which may cause Durant to sign essentially a one-year extension with the Thunder so he can then sign his next contract beginning immediately when the new CBA kicks in. Or, Durant would want to sign as long of a contract as possible (the five years only OKC will be able to give him) with the old CBA to take advantage of that.
There’s a lot more that will go into this decision than what Rose suggests. The best way OKC can ensure they keep Durant is to win a championship before his contract is up. If not, they will have to make sure they have a roster that is clearly in better position to do so going forward for Durant to re-sign.