ORLANDO, Fla. — Kevin Durant didn't need a one-hour special on the "World Wide Leader."
The Thunder's star was satisfied with just 140 characters.
As the NBA world, and millions beyond it, has become captivated by which franchise LeBron James will make his new home — while James milks it for all it's worth — Durant decided to downplay his somewhat similar plans for his future.
Unlike James, who is scheduled to announce on ESPN at 8 tonight which team he'll sign with, the soft-spoken Durant chose to not speak at all about his contract extension with the Thunder.
Durant opted for Twitter, the popular social-networking site that spreads messages to the masses, 140 characters at a time. Just before 10 a.m. Oklahoma time, Durant announced to his nearly 200,000 followers that he had agreed to a five-year extension that will keep him in Oklahoma City through the 2016 season. The deal was originally projected to be between $85 million and $86 million, according to Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin.
But with the NBA announcing next year's salary cap will increase to $58.044 million for the 2010-11 season, Durant's contract will rise as well. Exact figures of the deal won't be known until next July. A maximum contract extension for the upcoming season, however, would be $87.7 million over five seasons.
Durant's deal doesn't kick in until the 2011-12 season, but should the salary cap rise again, the Thunder's star could be in line for closer to a five-year, $90 million deal.
"This is more of a wake-up call than anything, just letting me know that this is just the beginning for me," Durant told The Oklahoman. "I just got to keep improving and letting people know that I really deserve this."
The contract does not contain a player option, a clause that would have allowed Durant to become a free agent following the fourth year of the deal. Durant didn't want one.
"I'm a very loyal person," Durant explained. "People say that might hurt me sometimes, but I think it's a great attribute that I have. By them offering me the max, it shows me that they're loyal to me as well. So I was ready just ready to sign right then and there, opt out or not, and start moving forward.
"We're building something great here, and I didn't want anything to jeopardize that. I'm happy I'm a part of this organization, and hopefully everybody sticks together."
Team officials can't comment on the deal until it is signed, which is expected to take place today, the first possible date per league rules. But Durant confirmed that Thunder general manager Sam Presti and assistant general manager Troy Weaver arrived at his home at 11:01 on June 30, the earliest the league allows teams to conduct negotiations, and expressed their interest in retaining him for the long haul.
"They just really expressed to me how much they've enjoyed seeing me grow these last three years," Durant said. "Everything they envisioned is starting to come alive for me. One thing Sam said to me is from Day One I haven't changed at all.
"That's the kind of person I am. I'm sure if I would have been a guy that got big-headed or not been coachable or whatever, this wouldn't have come for me. So I just stayed the same person I am and I know if I continue to be humble and always work hard good things will come to me."
By agreeing to a new deal now, Thunder owners and management demonstrated the high level of commitment they have to the league's newest star. With the current collective bargaining agreement expiring June 30, 2011, Oklahoma City could have waited until next summer to complete a deal with Durant as a restricted free agent under CBA changes that are widely anticipated to be more favorable to the owners.
Instead, it didn't take long for the two sides to strike a deal. The past week was spent simply fine-tuning the fine print.
"It was done at 11:02," Durant admitted. "Point blank. It was done."
And in what has been billed as "The Summer of LeBron," it was Durant who augmented his already ample adulation with the manner in which he delivered his news.
"Kevin Durant obviously is a great player. He's one of the best players in the league," said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. "But as a coach, somebody who follows basketball, what you appreciate is he just sort of did it. There was no big fanfare compared to what's going on with all these free agents. This is a guy who sort of gets on with business. He didn't use the whole process to promote himself or anything else. He just signed his extension and moved on."
Durant said it was an easy decision. He simply did what felt natural — sidestepped the spotlight.
"I'm just not the guy that always wants to be in the limelight or have my business out there, even though it will be out there sooner or later," Durant said.
"I didn't want to go through that. Twitter has been good to me. I have a lot of people that follow me. I know a lot of people wanted to know about the contract, so why not? It was cool."
Durant, who rarely has turned down a media member's request for an interview during his three years in the league, shot down several journalists Wednesday. He declined two requests from NBA TV, which is broadcasting every summer league game live from Orlando.
Durant said he wanted to avoid the same stress that was placed on him during the negotiating process when shoe companies lined up for his services just before his rookie season.
And Durant insisted his actions Wednesday were genuine, not some stunt to secure more reverence.
"I've been like this forever," Durant said. "I guess people really like that. But I'm just being myself. I'm not faking it. I'm not here at summer league because I want everybody to think I'm a good person. I didn't put it on Twitter because I want everybody to think that. That's just how I am, and people like it I guess."
Durant, though, didn't fault James and fellow 2010 free agents, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, for dragging out their decision. Wade and Bosh simultaneously announced their intentions live on ESPN on Wednesday morning to sign with Miami.
"LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, those guys are superstars," Durant said. "They didn't really put themselves out there as superstars. Other people in the media and fans really put them up on that pedestal. So you can't get mad at those guys for wanting to go through that process and really see how it is because it's their first time. I'm sure the next time it probably won't be like that for those guys.
"As a fan of the game, I'm excited for guys like LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh. Getting new contracts and getting to pick a team is a blessing so you can't blame them for what they did."
Durant's desires, as evidenced by his down-to-earth delivery Wednesday, are downright different.
"I'm just a basketball player. I love the game," Durant said. "I really haven't thought of myself as a superstar or a global icon.
"I just want to play. It's a blessing to be here for six more years now."
BREAKING DOWN DURANT'S DEAL A look at what Kevin Durant's new contract could look like. 2011-12: $14,511,000 2012-13: $16,034,655 2013-14: $17,558,310 2014-15: $19,081,965 2015-16: $20,605,620 Note: This is only a projection based on the salary cap that has been set for the 2010-11 season. Durant's deal is based on the cap number for the 2011-12 season, which will not be known until next July. By Darnell Mayberry