Kevin Durant’s contract expires soon, and the organization with which he’s been for what seems like forever is under siege. Every competitor wants Durant’s services, most notably an upstart in his youthful stomping grounds.
We’re talking about Nike, of course, which has produced seven versions of Durant’s signature shoe, but Durant’s Swoosh contract runs out this week, and Maryland-based Under Armour plans to come after Durant with gusto.
And you think the Thunder walks softly around Durant? Well, the answer is yes. The Thunder and everyone else from Balko to Broken Bow.
Durant’s Thunder contract expires in summer 2016. The Durant Watch began in earnest after this season, and after Durant’s comments in Las Vegas this week, the gluteus maximus of every Thunder fan and brass is pricked with pins by the number and needles by the score.
Durant said yeah, it’s great that LeBron went home to Cleveland. Said yeah, signing a five-year deal with the Thunder a few years back was the product of a simple mind. Said yeah, growing up in suburban D.C. and watching the old Bullets and Georgetown was great and that Greater Washington “is a part of me. It’s in my blood.”
Of course, Durant also said he loves Oklahoma City and won’t make any decision based on what anyone else does, but just the admission from Durant that anything could happen was unsettling to ThunderLand, which never has known a day without the Durantula.
It’s going to be a long two years. In fact, the only salvation is that in the next 700 days, about 200 of them will be filled by a game day, Durant playing ball with the OKC logo. That can and has made many an Oklahoman forget their troubles.
The truth is, some day in the future, the Thunder will produce a roster without “35 Kevin Durant.” And that will be a sad occasion, whether it’s in summer 2016 or summer 2028. Who knows which? One guess is as good as the next. For every reason you can list for Durant to leave, you can counter with a reason or three for him to stay. By July after next, he might be a Wizard, or a Knickerbocker, or a Bull, or a Laker. Or he might be like Tim Duncan and become Old Man Riverwalk North.
There seems little advantage in worrying about it, from all parties. Just do what you can do and nod your head at Doris Day. What will be will be.
The Thunder organization has done its part. It has put together a championship contender, full of elite pieces like Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, plenty of savvy veterans and young legs and hard-hatters. The Thunder has been active at the trade deadline with the likes of Caron Butler and has gone after impact free agents like Pau Gasol. Win some, lose some.
Plus, the Thunder has built a class operation that puts players’ comfort first. The Thunder Way, with star chamber secrecy and a compound mentality, frustrates fans and media, but it’s protective of the players. Sam Presti and staff can sleep well at night, knowing they’ve created an environment that Durant will be hard-pressed to replicate elsewhere.
Thunder fans have done their part. Downtown OKC is a fun place to play. There are no dreary nights. Not when the Hornets were here. Not when the Durant’s first Thunder team started 3-29 and finished 23-59. And not now that the Spidermen are constant contenders. OKC has embraced Durant and he’s embraced back. Parting would be sour sorrow, and the fans have made Durant realize it. Doesn’t mean he won’t go, but it means it won’t be easy.
There are no stones to throw. Durant’s got a great situation in OKC. Great team, great organization, great contract, great support. That’s all anyone can ask for.
So enjoy the next two seasons. Worrying about it, sweating over it, just takes away from the thrill of having Durant here in the first place. And when decision summer comes, que sera sera.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.