Following a near-improbable playoff run, ESPN's Marc Stein reports former MVP Kevin Durant is 'likely' to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder...for now. Stein suggests a short-term deal with OKC allows Durant his greatest opportunity for both financial flexibility and another run at an elusive championship. By staying put on a two year player-option contract, Durant would presumably see a near 10 million dollar spike for his services if choosing to opt out in 2017. Per ESPN:
The financial particulars, meanwhile, only make it a wiser course of action. Were Durant to be a free agent again in July 2017, coming off his 10th season, he'd be eligible for a projected starting annual salary in excess of $35 million -- compared to a projected $25.9 million this summer -- because of service time and the looming mammoth salary-cap spike into the $100 million stratosphere that will take hold for the 2017-18 season.
In addition to financial incentives, another key factor for a Durant return is his affection for the Oklahoma City community. Durant co-owns the popular locale KD's Southern Cuisine and has firmly established himself as a key pillar in the "Big Friendly." Furthermore, the 27-year-old's laurels as Thunder franchise leader are hall-of-fame caliber.
During an eight-year run in OKC, Durant has made seven All-Star appearances, led the league in scoring five times and garnered an MVP award in 2014. In that time, Oklahoma City has made six post-season appearances, including four trips to the Conference Finals and an NBA Finals appearance.
Falling just one win shy of the Finals this season, the Thunder are a perennial threat in the top-heavy Western Conference. For this reason, Kevin Durant's agent Rich Kleiman recently told Marc Stein that "He (Durant) wants to win in Oklahoma as bad as anybody."
Though other teams will undoubtedly throw max offers Durant's way this off-season, the narrative of K.D. re-signing with Oklahoma City, at least on a short-term deal, seems highly likely.