Kevin Durant's free agency decision is a simple one

By Jorge Flores on June 1, 2016

Fresh off an incredible Western Conference Finals series between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder, murmurs of Kevin Durant’s free agency status have grown louder and more speculative. After all, the NBA is a year-round league now and the offseason storylines can be just as fun as the actual games being played.

As huge of a story as Durant’s free agency will be all summer, it’s not all that interesting when considering how simple of a decision he has to make. It all boils down to a simple question – will he stay or will he go? There’s a simple answer to this question too.

In 2016, Kevin Durant will stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and there are obvious financial and basketball related reasons why he will.

First of all, as Bleacher Report tweeted out, staying in OKC will greatly benefit Durant from a financial standpoint. Given that he is going to enter his tenth NBA season, he’ll be eligible for a ‘super max’ contract that takes up at least 30% of a team’s salary cap. The cap is making a huge leap this season and next season, which is why OKC will be able to offer him a five-year deal worth $150  or $208 million, respectively. OKC’s major advantage in retaining Durant is their ability to offer him a fifth year, which no other team can do. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t make a ton of money elsewhere. As shown above, Durant can sign a four-year, $110 million deal with any other team in the league.

There’s an option that isn’t quite mentioned above, and it’s potentially the most beneficial to KD. When considering his decision, Durant and his financial team will undoubtedly mull over the idea of signing a one-year deal worth close to $30 million this summer (no matter what team), with an added player-option on a second year. This would allow him to test the free agency market again next season, essentially putting him in the exact contractual situation he’s in right now. The cap is projected to shoot up again even higher next summer, meaning he can sign a long-term deal for even more money than he’d be able to this summer. Doing this would also line up his free agency with those of teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.

From a basketball standpoint, it makes just as much sense for Durant to stay in OKC for at least another year. The Thunder just came off an amazing playoff run, and were minutes away (in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals) from making the NBA Finals with a real shot at winning the championship. Why not try to make another run with this team?

Royce Young of chronicled OKC’s exit interviews on Wednesday, quoting Durant as he discussed what matters to him when thinking about what kind of team he’ll play for next season. He also added that he enjoys playing in OKC, presumably with people he enjoys playing with everyday, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he could be pulled back there for another year.

Expect KD to pull a LeBron James and move forward with a one-year deal this summer, just to test free agency again next season. He’ll still be able to make about $200 million over the next five years regardless of whether he signs long-term with OKC this summer or with any team in the NBA next summer. He’ll also be able to make one more run at the Larry O’Brien trophy alongside the core OKC General Manager Sam Presti has worked hard to build.

Durant’s free agency is intriguing primarily because everyone wants to believe that he’s going to leave OKC for a new team and shakeup the NBA landscape, and he very well could. It’s just not likely to happen this summer.

Fans in OKC have dealt with a ton of on-court heartbreak, but they won’t have to deal with Durant leaving them behind…

At least not yet.

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