The start of NBA free agency is right around the corner with teams around the league gearing up for what could be an offseason where Kevin Durant could create a power shift if he decides to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although the Thunder took the Golden State Warriors the distance in the Western Conference Finals, Durant and Russell Westbrook couldn’t seal the deal despite a 3-1 lead which has sparked speculation once again that a breakup could be on the horizon.
Before the Thunder headed into the NBA playoffs a couple of months ago, Durant had been linked to numerous teams expected to show strong interest in signing him come July 1. Oklahoma City is still considered the favorite to retain his services, but they’ll have their fair share of competition once Durant is officially an unrestricted free agent next month.
During an event to promote Durant’s new shoe, KD9, the one-time NBA MVP talked about his upcoming free agency and what his mindset is with such an important decision looming, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
Full Kevin Durant quote on free agency at his KD9 shoe release: pic.twitter.com/VtgkH5yVo8
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 20, 2016
Among the teams expected to aggressively pursue Durant in free agency include the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, and Warriors. It remains uncertain which of these teams will actually get a face-to-face meeting with Durant, but Golden State may have the edge in the sweepstakes for arguably one of the best players in the league.
According to Frank Isola of New York Daily News, if Durant does ultimately leave the Thunder it may be to join Stephen Curry’s Warriors. Once free agency gets underway, Durant will meet with interested teams in Los Angeles:
The one player who can change the balance of power in the NBA is expected to meet with prospective teams in Los Angeles when the free-agent recruiting period beings in July, according to a source. Durant had considered holding meetings in New York, but apparently has decided to hear proposals in Los Angeles, where he owns an offseason home.
The same source maintains that if Durant doesn’t re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder he would prefer to join the Warriors, a team that has reached two straight NBA Finals and could rule the Western Conference for the next five years if Durant goes to the Bay Area.
Although anything can happen once the free agency period begins next month, the Lakers will struggle to compete with the majority of teams set to pursue Durant.
Los Angeles has brought in a few talented young players over the last few years and may be able to turn things around under new head coach Luke Walton, but the prospect of a bright future might not be enough to sell the superstar on a signing a long-term deal over other teams set up to win now.