Kevin Durant will embark on his third season when he’s introduced to the locals at today’s media day. And by all accounts, 2009-10 will be the season that catapults him to superstar status. But while his prominence progresses over the course of the season, it will be the summer months of the off-season that will decide his future with the franchise. The Thunder can enter into contract extension talks with Durant next July, with NBA rules permitting the two sides to sign up to a five-year extension through 2015-16. Durant has repeatedly professed his preference to remain in Oklahoma City long term, but there is one factor that could ultimately close the sale. Continuity. When decision day arrives for Durant, he will look up and find himself surrounded by complementary young talent that he’s grown up with in Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. It’s a not-so small factor that could provide comfort to a player who this season will play in the same city in consecutive seasons for just the first time since his early high school days. Familiarity alone certainly won’t get Durant’s signature on a long-term contract. But money won’t be an issue, as the Thunder already has cleared more than enough salary cap space to re-sign Durant to a max deal. The organization, in a short amount of time, also has proved to have ideal players in the front office and a supportive fan base in the Ford Center. And Durant has often said his laid-back personality meshes well with Oklahoma City’s low-key environment. But in roster continuity, Durant has a treasure few of his counterparts can lay claim to. Not LeBron James. Not Dwyane Wade. Not Chris Paul. Not Dwight Howard. Not Chris Bosh. Not Carmelo Anthony. Not Amare Stoudemire. Those stars largely have been overrun with older players as their front offices looked to become instant contenders. In the case of Wade, Paul, Bosh and Stoudemire, their franchises are at a pivotal point, with no real prospects for long-term success. Only Portland, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Memphis and Minnesota have built a young nucleus comparable to the Thunder’s: the Blazers with Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden, the Sixers with Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams, The Wolves with Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn, the Hawks with Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Al Horford and the Grizzlies with Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley Jr. Memphis and Minnesota have both made moves this summer that have threatened to sabotage their cores. And Philadelphia’s young talent isn’t to the level of Oklahoma City’s. So while you’re marveling at the Thunder’s young stars this season inside the Ford Center, keep in mind that it’s this group that ultimately could keep the star stationed long term.