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Thunder Insider: Kevin Durant not going anywhere

Darnell Mayberry Published: July 27, 2009
’ll also be more Benjamins than any other team can offer, with league rules allowing the Thunder to tender more years and higher annual raises to retain its player

The only major question this time next year seems to be whether Durant will sign a long-term contract or be satisfied with a short-term deal.

Under the league’s current collective bargaining agreement, Durant can sign an extension of up to five years, keeping him in town through the 2015-16 season. But he could also opt to sign a shorter deal in an attempt to maintain the most flexibility.

In July 2006, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both signed three-year deals with a player’s option for a fourth season rather than re-upping for five seasons. Tim Duncan did a similar three-year deal in 2000 as opposed to the then-maximum seven-year extension.

Oklahoma City is in position to appease Durant on either front. Durant’s new deal wouldn’t kick in until the 2011-12 season, when the Thunder has just more than $14 million committed to five players — Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Byron Mullens and D.J. White.

That kind of cap space has become imperative for the Thunder to have if it has any interest in re-signing Durant and fellow 2007 classmate Jeff Green without soon having an uncontrollable payroll. It’s why we haven’t seen Oklahoma City overpay for David Lee and why the Thunder didn’t blow the budget on Paul Millsap, Ben Gordon or Anderson Varejao.

Presti, in two short seasons, has built the Thunder into a team that his best player wants to play for and a franchise that is in very good position to keep him around.

So relax, Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant isn’t going anywhere. How many times does he have to say it before we believe him?