One year from now, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant will become the most sought after free agent and several teams will be angling to get his services. Durant is arguably the best player in basketball today and his talent and presence can make or break a franchise. It is no wonder that rumors are already swirling as to his destination despite strong indicators that he will remain with Oklahoma.
Just to put things in context, Durant is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. He is listed at 6 feet 9 inches and 240 pounds but most would agree that he stands closer to 6-11. He has a freakish wingspan measuring 7 feet 4 inches which allows him to shoot over opponents. Durant was the 2014 MVP, a 4-time scoring champion and has been named to the All-NBA First Team five times. The only thing lacking in his resume is an NBA title.
With Durant entering his prime (he’s turning 27 this month), it is highly unlikely that he would consider going to an organization that doesn’t have the supporting cast to win a title now. This means the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are not included in the discussion.
The Washington Wizards top the list of Durant’s would-be destinations in 2016 for a simple reason – he was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and is considered a hometown hero. Additionally, the Wizards have one of the best and youngest backcourt tandems in John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards are also playing in the weak Eastern Conference which would make it easier for Durant to enter the NBA Finals.
Another possible destination is the Miami Heat which has already been successful in luring LeBron James before. During that span, the Heat reached the NBA Finals four times, winning twice. Pat Riley likes his superstars and he has the veterans and the cap space to make it happen. The Heat will definitely try to woo Durant.
The Toronto Raptors can be considered a dark horse destination for Durant. Durant is close to rapper Drake, a Toronto native, and the team used to be his favorite while growing up. The Raptors also have a superb organization under the stewardship of GM Masai Ujiri.
At the end of the day, Durant’s decision will be influenced by how the Thunder performs this season. No doubt that the Thunder have gone all in to be competitive and make their superstar satisfied. Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters, and Enes Kanter are all under contract next season and form a formidable core that can contend night in and night out. The Thunder also have a new coach and a lot of talent on the bench. Due to injuries in the past few seasons, the team has been unable to scratch their full potential and this season looks like they finally can.
To be honest, the Thunder seems to be the best place for Durant now and in the near future.