The most open and shut order of business in the NBA this summer rests in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder and Kevin Durant are expected to agree on a contract extension soon after July 1.
Even the last shred of suspense — whether Durant will ink a short-term contract or long-term deal — becomes somewhat predictable when both the business ramifications and the track record of the man who'll handle Durant's affairs are taken into account.
Given those two factors, as well as Durant's frequently stated preference to remain in OKC as long as possible, it appears likely that the Thunder's franchise player will commit to a five-year deal, the maximum allowable years as set by the league's collective bargaining agreement.
“Kevin expects to have an opportunity to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder and continue to play,” said Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin. “And he fully believes that that opportunity should be a maximum opportunity, as do I.
“Kevin has surely put himself in position, by becoming a First-Team All-NBA player, by leading his team to the playoffs and the great run that they had, to be deserving of that.”
Under league rules, the Thunder can begin negotiating an extension at 11 p.m. CST on July 1. The contract cannot be signed, however, until July 8.
The value of Durant's deal will not be known until next July, when the salary cap for the 2011-12 season is set. But under current projections for the 2010-11 season, Durant is in line for a contract in the neighborhood of $84.85 million over the life of a five-year deal. His first-year salary in the new deal, which would begin for the 2011-12 season, would be worth close about $14 million based on projections of a $56.1 million salary cap in 2010-11.
With maximum allowable 10.5 percent raises, Durant's salary would increase to $15.4 million in Year Two, $16.9 million in Year Three, $18.4 million in Year Four and $19.9 million in the fifth and final season.
It's the final season that is most significant and what makes it likely Durant accepts a five-year deal.
Although a new collective bargaining agreement could drastically alter the way deals are done, Durant could receive a much larger payday if the rules aren't greatly different.
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