Oklahoma City Thunder could be open to trading Kevin Durant next year, according to ESPN analyst and former NBA executive Tom Penn.
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Durant is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, but that hasn’t prevented the speculation over his future starting early.
The league MVP has been linked with a return home to Washington with the Wizards, which he described as “cool” not long ago while Wiz fans have already started buying jerseys with his name on.
As expected, they aren’t the only team monitoring Durant’s situation as he will unsurprisingly be a popular player in free agency, if he gets there.
ESPN’s Penn has revealed his opinion that Durant won’t even make it that far as ultimately Thunder general manager Sam Presti will be thinking ahead and if he isn’t confident the 26-year-old will sign a new deal, he’ll be ready to trade him.
“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,” Penn said on ESPN SportsNation.
“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.”
Quite frankly, this is nonsense. While it has been fascinating watching Westbrook come to the fore and take over the team, it hasn’t been a success collectively.
The Thunder are still struggling to make the playoffs and it only proves that Durant is the real heartbeat of the team and he is also widely regarded as the second best player in the league.
If a situation arose where Durant notified the franchise that he didn’t intend on signing a new deal, then this would be a possibility. However, there is no telling what he will decide to do yet and it seems unrealistic that such a deal would be made unless OKC were pushed into it.