With NBA free agency due to begin July 1, there’s been plenty of buzz involving LeBron James and Paul George, and with Kawhi Leonard on the trade market because of implications it could have for the Los Angeles Lakers. One superstar who has flown under the radar is Kevin Durant.
Not because teams wouldn’t be interested in signing the two-time NBA Finals MVP, but because of Durant’s insistence that although he will become an unrestricted free agent, he’s essentially a lock to re-sign with the Golden State Warriors.
Assuming that to be true, the only question for Durant and the Warriors is what type of contract he will sign this summer. Meanwhile, George reportedly intends to opt out of the final year remaining on his contract, and James has until Friday night to make his decision.
The expectation is James will decline his player option as well, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers as the most-likely teams to sign the 14-time All-Star.
During Thursday’s episode of “First Take” on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith reported that James reached out to Durant to discuss the possibility of teaming up with the Lakers:
“As it pertains to LeBron James in L.A., we know that the reports have been he’s been making some phone calls or what have you. I got two phone calls last night, after hours, with folks telling me that LeBron James reached out to Kevin Durant … Well, LeBron James reached out to Kevin Durant via text, from what I’m told, about coming to Los Angeles. I don’t know what Kevin Durant’s response to it was. That’s not the information I got, but I will tell you what I did hear is that behind the scenes Kevin Durant was like, ‘Why would I do that? As far as I’m concerned, LeBron James is a big-time play but the way I look at it, I should be perceived as the best in the world.’ But nevertheless, LeBron has been making calls and one person he reached out to is Kevin Durant. … In fairness to LeBron James’ camp, let me be very, very clear. They are emphatically denying it. They’ve already text me it’s totally false. I’m telling you I don’t give a damn. I’ve got a couple sources that I’ve trusted for many years that have never let me down. Any information they’ve given me has never, ever, ever been false in any situation involving these two individuals.”
The Lakers are heading into free agency with more salary cap space than any other team in the league, and with a reported desire to sign multiple All-Stars.
To this point, their reported focus has fallen on signing George and James, while also pursuing a trade for Leonard. It’s believed that acquiring Leonard would cement James joining the Lakers, with the domino effect possibly looping George in as well.
As arguably the top two players in the NBA, it’s difficult to fathom James and Durant joining forces. Particularly when taking into account how seamlessly Durant joined the Warriors and that they’re looking on winning a third consecutive championship this season.
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