No matter how many times Kevin Durant states his desire — in newspapers and magazines, on blogs and through his Twitter account — the Thunder star continues to be bombarded with the same question. The wording varies, but the gist is clear: "When are you leaving Oklahoma?” In case you haven’t paid attention over much of the past calendar year, Durant isn’t looking to go anywhere. He’s said as much from the day the Thunder was introduced at media day last fall and made perhaps his strongest statements last week in a Q&A with Slam Magazine. "I love this team, man,” Durant said. "This is where I want to be. (General manager) Sam (Presti) is incredible. He’s like another father to me, outside of my real father. Anything I need. He’s always asking if I need anything or how my family is doing. I just like good people like that. He’s not just a GM. He’s more of an everyday guy that is always around. He asks my input on everything, whether it’s about the newest music out or what type of shoes I like. Small stuff like that. I love him, I love the organization and hopefully I can stay as long as possible.” But statements like those from stars such as Durant in small markets like Oklahoma City go unnoticed or aren’t understood nationally. And major media markets want to wind up the free-agent clock on Durant, even if he has no reason for wanting to leave Oklahoma City. The questions figure to keep coming until the ink of Durant’s signature dries on a new deal. But that day is not far away, and the pieces are coming together for the Thunder to retain its franchise player. In what will be a mere formality, the Thunder will announce sometime before Oct. 31 that it has exercised its team option for Durant’s fourth season. It allows the franchise to keep No. 35 through 2010-11. Durant will then become eligible for his first contract extension July 1, 2010. And next summer should prove to be a cut-and-dry negotiation period for Durant and the Thunder. Certain incentives likely will have to be hashed out, but the terms of the deal will be open and shut — the maximum number of Benjamins the Thunder can throw Durant’s way. It’ll also be more Benjamins than any other team can offer, with league rules allowing the Thunder to tender more years and higher annual raises to retain its player The only major question this time next year seems to be whether Durant will sign a long-term contract or be satisfied with a short-term deal. Under the league’s current collective bargaining agreement, Durant can sign an extension of up to five years, keeping him in town through the 2015-16 season. But he could also opt to sign a shorter deal in an attempt to maintain the most flexibility. In July 2006, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both signed three-year deals with a player’s option for a fourth season rather than re-upping for five seasons. Tim Duncan did a similar three-year deal in 2000 as opposed to the then-maximum seven-year extension. Oklahoma City is in position to appease Durant on either front. Durant’s new deal wouldn’t kick in until the 2011-12 season, when the Thunder has just more than $14 million committed to five players — Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Byron Mullens and D.J. White. That kind of cap space has become imperative for the Thunder to have if it has any interest in re-signing Durant and fellow 2007 classmate Jeff Green without soon having an uncontrollable payroll. It’s why we haven’t seen Oklahoma City overpay for David Lee and why the Thunder didn’t blow the budget on Paul Millsap, Ben Gordon or Anderson Varejao. Presti, in two short seasons, has built the Thunder into a team that his best player wants to play for and a franchise that is in very good position to keep him around. So relax, Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant isn’t going anywhere. How many times does he have to say it before we believe him?