Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant becomes a free agent again next summer. Can we consider the Oklahoma City Thunder as a potential destination?
According to Yahoo’s Chris Mannix, the two-time NBA Finals MVP likely signed his deal this offseason with the intention of weighing his options during the summer of 2019. As noted by Mannix, he could have made more money if he signed a long-term contract with the Warriors yet he chose a shorter deal instead.
Mannix recently joined a podcast with Jeff Goodman, where he extrapolated on this possibility (via Good N Plenty):
“The relationship between Durant and Oklahoma City was never really torched. Oklahoma City always said the right things about him and always did right by him publicly … The relationship between Durant and [Russell] Westbrook is probably as good as it’s been since he left Oklahoma City.”
He believes that the Thunder will “at least be on his list” after another season with the Warriors. During an earlier segment on Fox Sports, Mannix also pointed to comments from Golden State veteran David West that alluded to tension in the champions’ locker room as a reason why Durant may leave.
It’s hard to imagine what such a deal would look like for the Thunder, who will owe a ton of money to Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams.
They’d obviously do whatever it would take to bring Durant back to OKC, as a move like this would turn the Thunder into a Western Conference juggernaut.
Westbrook and Durant played together on the All-Star team last season and they’re currently practicing alongside each other for Team USA. While it’s likely not something they’re constantly discussing, it’s hard to imagine the topic has not even come up in conversation while in such close proximity.
This idea is nothing but a pipe dream and one that feels pretty unlikely. It’s absurdly rare for a player of Durant’s caliber to make such a decision. It’s worth mentioning that some stars have returned to a former team, like LeBron James (who returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers), Steve Nash (who returned to the Phoenix Suns) and Jason Kidd (who returned to the Dallas Mavericks).
However, most players who make a move like this do so as their career is nearing an end. Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves), Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls), Chris Webber (Golden State Warriors), Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) and Elvin Hayes (Houston Rockets) retired with the teams that drafted them despite leaving earlier in their careers.