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Thunder’s Kevin Durant the biggest story on All-Star weekend

by Berry Tramel Modified: February 15, 2010 at 10:27 am •  Published: February 15, 2010

Who knows if that kind of contract will be available in 2011?

The longer extension works both ways. Security for Durant and the Thunder, which wants KD for time and memorial. And chairman Clay Bennett knows the labor problems play right into the Thunder’s hands, as it relates to Durant.

That’s a massive amount of money, especially for a downtown no bigger than OKC’s. But all that salary-cap room we’ve been hearing about since the Thunder hung out a shingle?

This is what those savings should be all about.

The pending fear that Durant might leave, and the ceaseless sniping from ports bitter that little ol’ Oklahoma City landed not just a ballteam but an epic ballplayer, is not grounded in history.

NBA franchises historically have kept their cornerstone players. Even the small markets. David Robinson and Tim Duncan in San Antonio. Karl Malone in Salt Lake City. Dwight Howard in Orlando. Chris Paul in New Orleans.

No reason Oklahoma City can’t do the same. The Thunder made money last season in a league when many teams didn’t.

It will be harder to make money when you’re paying Durant $15 million a year, with Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green soon to follow with substantial raises of their own.

And it’s easy to tell other people how to spend their money. But paying great players big money has to be done.

Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told me the other day that franchise success comes down to one thing: "the commitment of your ownership group. Small market or large market.

"Small market, it’s a little tougher job. You simply can’t make as many mistakes on the smaller market.”

The biggest mistake Bennett and the Thunder could make would be to not secure the NBA’s newest superstar this summer. Especially since everything is laid out to make Durant want to sign as soon as possible.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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