Billboards and murals such as this have appeared throughout Oklahoma City, seemingly as a message to Kevin Durant and the fan base. (Photo by Michael Kinney)
By Michael Kinney
Presumably by the time the sun sets on the fourth of July, Oklahoma City Thunder fans will have their answer. After sweating it out for more than a year, they will know whether Kevin Durant will be staying in Oklahoma or moving on to other pastures.
According to a reports, Durant is expected to announce his decision sometime Monday. That could be true or just one giant tease to increase the stress level on the Thunder organization and its fan base as they try and hold onto this year’s biggest free agent and the most hyped since LeBron James.
After meeting with six different teams over the holiday weekend, it seems to have come down to the Thunder, the Golden State Warriors and possibly the Boston Celtics.
In truth, Durant wouldn’t be wrong with choosing any of the three if the decision truly was all about basketball, which is what he stated it would be more than a week ago.
Both the Celtics and Warriors have a young team with talented players. The addition of Al Horford gives Boston at least one other big name that could team with Durant. The Warriors, as everyone knows, already has three on the roster. That includes two-times MVP Steph Curry.
If either one snagged Durant, they would be title contender for several years.
But the same can be said for the Thunder. However, there is one major clause in that statement. And it centers around the future of his teammate for the past eight years, Russell Westbrook. Since no one outside Westbrook’s inner circle knows what is going to happen when he becomes a free agent after next season, the future of Oklahoma City is not as solid as the other two squads appear to be.
At this time next year, the Thunder could still have both Durant and Westbrook on the roster, one or the other or neither. That is a slightly shakey future.
But you have to assume Durant and Westbrook have had talks. As close as they say they are, it’s hard to imagine either would pull a LeBron James and not let their close friends on the team know their future plans so they could act accordingly, if they have already been made.
But regardless of what discussions Durant and Westbrook have had, Durant’s decision has to be all about him and his legacy. Where can he win titles and where can he lift his name to the upper echelon of the greatest players of all time.
I contend Durant can win wherever he goes. But when it comes to building on his legacy, it’s hard to beat bringing a first title to the franchise that drafted you. Building it from the ground up makes a much better story than chasing it from team to team. That, I’m sure, is the message Thunder General Manger Sam Presti has tried to convey to Durant in their meetings and with the billboards that have magically appeared around Oklahoma City that read “Taking on Tomorrow. Today.”
But it remains to be seen if that will be enough to keep Durant home.