OKC Thunder: Buckle up Oklahoma, the Kevin Durant countdown has started

The free agency countdown for Durant has begun. Former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose this week became the most prominent figure to proclaim that Durant will leave Oklahoma City when his contract is up in 2016.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 24, 2013

It set the Internet on fire, ballooned into a hot topic on talk radio and isn't likely to go away for another three years.

Buckle up, Oklahoma.

The free agency countdown for Kevin Durant has begun.

Former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose this week became the most prominent figure to proclaim that Durant will leave Oklahoma City when his contract is up in 2016.

“I think that after he plays out the couple years on his contract that he goes to Houston to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden,” Rose told ESPN’s Bill Simmons on the website Grantland.com’s YouTube channel.

In the video, a confident Rose went as far as to pour water onto the floor to paint the picture of planting a seed because he “might create a harvest.”

And so here we go again.

First it was the “LeBron-a-thon” in 2010, and then it was “Melodrama” in 2011 and, of course, the “Dwightmare” followed in 2012.

Durant's day as the center of a will-he-or-won't-he-leave watch appears to have arrived.

It's just the nature of the NBA.

These countdowns have become cyclical events that take on a life of their own for myriad reasons. But above all, they inject fans with excitement, fear and hope.

The frenzy surrounding LeBron James leading up to his free agency in 2010 kicked off this craze. When his contract with Cleveland ended, James was courted heavily by no less than a half dozen teams before famously announcing his decision to “take his talents to South Beach” in a one-hour televised special.

Carmelo Anthony held all of Colorado captive when he became noncommittal on re-signing with Denver. He was eventually traded to New York.

Dwight Howard, meanwhile, botched his impending free agency so bad in Orlando that he became the laughing stock of the league and made everyone forget how he incessantly was asked about his future intentions.

There might not be a right way for players to handle what is sure to be a sensitive situation. Because the speculation typically begins with so much time remaining on a player's contract, whatever is said can be misconstrued.

Say you're happy where you are and will cross the free agency bridge when you get to it and you've left open the door for interpretation. Say nothing and you'll be condemned for not showing loyalty to your current franchise. Say you want out and, well, you're Dwight Howard. Public enemy No. 1.

Worst of all is there is nothing a star player can do to prevent the conversation from creeping in.

With the rise of the Internet, players’ contract details are just a click away from allowing even the casual fan to learn exactly when Kyrie Irving can be the next stud to ditch Cleveland. Some websites even have programs enabling fans to generate trade scenarios that are viable under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. ESPN.com calls its wildly popular program the “Trade Machine.” You can literally waste hours playing Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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