Kevin Durant may have played his final game for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant, an unrestricted free agent, has tasted playoff heartbreak unlike any other superstar over the last several years. The Thunder have lost in the Western Conference Finals or later in four of the last six seasons – and did so this season after taking a 3-1 lead over the Golden State Warriors.
Durant, 27, remains one of the top five, if not top three, players in the world. But could he be on the move this offseason?
Jared Greenberg says no.
“I think he stays – for a multitude of reasons,” the NBA-TV analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “No. 1, the obvious: Where is he going to find a better immediate situation?”
That’s a good question. Russell Westbrook, for all of his spotty decision-making, is perhaps the most athletic basketball player in the world, one who averaged 26.7 points, 11.3 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals in the Western Conference Finals. He’s also just 27 years old. Steven Adams is 22. Enes Kanter and Andre Roberson are 24. Serge Ibaka is 26.
Is there an NBA team that has a better blend of talent and youth?
“Unless (Durant) puts together some super team that we’re unaware of, (I don’t think he leaves),” Greenberg said. “Obviously that’s always possible. LeBron and Wade and Bosh kind of showed us (what can happen). Nobody saw that coming six months in advance. (But) unless that happens, I say he stays.”
Durant has averaged 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists in nine NBA seasons. This past season, he averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, which was a career-high, and 5.0 assists, which was the second most of his career. He’s won an MVP award, and he’s been a seven-time All-Star and five-time first-team All-NBA player.
In short, he’s a superstar, one that any team would love to have.
But it’s not that simple.
“The other part of it is we’ve now gotten into this cliche: Everybody and his mother knows the cap is going up,” Greenberg said. “I don’t think people really understand what that means financially for Durant. The NBA’s biggest superstars – I’m talking about the one percent, the top five players in the league – are underpaid. Durant is one of those guys. If he signs this year for a long-term deal, he is going to continue to be very underpaid. Maybe in the long run that actually helps his team because it creates more salary-cap space, but I would be stunned if he signs a long-term deal anywhere this year – because the next two to three years is when he’s going to really be able to maximize because he’ll have enough years under this belt and he’ll be able to really truly maximize the type of money he can make, which I think he should. If you compare NBA superstars to what actors in Hollywood make, (NBA superstars are) grossly underpaid.”