Former Thunder guard Kevin Ollie is not even a day removed from winning the NCAA Tournament title with UConn and the rumor mill has started.
It's no secret that Ollie and Thunder forward Kevin Durant have a good relationship. Durant has openly spoken about how much Ollie changed the Thunder culture in his short stay in Oklahoma City.
But with Ollie set to become a hot property in coaching, ESPN's Jeff Goodman says that when Kevin Durant nears free agency, Ollie could be a critical persuasion piece for whichever team is courting KD.
From Goodman's ESPN Insider piece: One NBA executive told me that whichever team (or teams) makes a run after Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent, “will throw the whole ATM after [Ollie].” That makes sense given the enormous amount of respect KD has for his former teammate in Oklahoma City. I remember Durant telling me a few years back, just after Calhoun convinced Ollie to join his staff as an assistant, that Ollie would be a star. Durant couldn’t stop gushing about Ollie’s character as a person, and his knowledge of the game.
Big time hypotheticals here. Some thoughts.
1.) Kevin Durant may not make it to free agency if the Thunder wrap him up long term (he's already signed through 2015-16.) 2.) Kevin Ollie may not even want an NBA job. He may be entrenched at his alma mater for the next decade plus (personally, I think he has an NBA future, but he unquestionably loves UConn.) 3.) Would Ollie even be that much of a factor in KD determining where he ends up in free agency (again, if he even decides to go through the free agency process.) 4.) Has any coach ever been THAT much of a factor in where a player ends up in free agency?
5.) What team is better set up for future success than the Thunder? That remains to be seen, since many teams will be much different looking by the time Durant is a free agent (Lakers, Knicks, Heat in particular). But grading on current roster talent and age, the Thunder looks about as good as any team in the NBA. That would seem to be a bigger selling point than just a coach.