Superstar Kevin Durant will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016 and will arguably be the most sought after player on the open market when that happens. Although many anticipate the Oklahoma City Thunder to retain Durant or at least be near the top of his wish list, there’s a chance the team trades him before he becomes a free agent.
Former NBA executive Tom Penn made an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd and said he believes Durant could be dealt:
“I think this burst from Westbrook makes it much more likely that Durant ultimately gets traded next year. … Sam Presti has proven that he does not ever want to lose anybody for nothing. So he traded James Harden a year early to avoid a potential luxury tax problem a year later.
“The Kevin Durant drumbeat next year is going to be so loud because he will not commit early to Oklahoma City contractually because the rules are against that. He can’t get the same contract if he signs early as if he just goes to free agency and resigns.
So if Sam Presti doesn’t get that commitment, he’ll look to to trade Kevin Durant. And looking at the performance of Westbrook and the team around Westbrook will make it easier for him to do that potentially.”
With Russell Westbrook emerging as a legitimate superstar, the prospect of trading Durant while his value remains high might become intriguing without a commitment from the veteran forward. Durant leaving Oklahoma City definitely seems like a stretch, but Penn has a point in terms of the Thunder being forced to explore their options if they’re unsure he’ll stay after next season.
A lot can happen between now and the NBA trade deadline in 2016, but Durant could end up being the biggest name on the trading block if the Thunder brass aren’t confident he’ll remain in Oklahoma City.
As for the Los Angeles Lakers, the storied franchise will almost certainly be aiming to land Durant in free agency in the summer of 2016. If Durant is on the trading block, it’s uncertain if the Lakers will have the assets to acquire him unless they strike gold in the 2015 NBA draft.
It’d be safe to assume the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks will express considerable interest in acquiring the one-time NBA MVP. More teams are bound to emerge when it becomes a realistic possibility that he’ll head elsewhere in a trade or in free agency.