Durant's decision distraction arrives two years early

Will he leave OKC when contract expires after 2015-16 season?

     Kevin Durant has a decision to make it two years, but people are looking for answers now.

     While Team USA is in Las Vegas preparing for this summer’s FIBA World Cup in Spain, media have begun peppering Durant with questions about his future address.

     Will Durant leave the OKC Thunder when his contract expires after the 2015-16 season? Will he return home to the Washington D.C. area and play for the Wizards, or will he invade New York and play for the Knicks or perhaps the Brooklyn Nets? What about the Chicago Bulls? The Los Angeles Lakers?

     Earlier this month, LeBron James chose to return to northeast Ohio and once again play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. James grew up in Akron, roughly 40 miles south of Cleveland.

     If the best player on the planet can go home again, the Washington Wizards see no reason why the second-best player can’t do the same in two years’ time. Washington point guard John Wall openly admitted he will recruit Durant to return to the Washington D.C. area. Durant grew up in Seat Pleasant, Md., roughly 10 miles to the east.

     “He’s like an older brother to me,” Wall said of his friendship with Durant. “He’s happy to see the things I’m doing and what I’m doing for the city of DC, especially since that’s where he’s from. That’s a big honor to me and an honor to him, so we enjoy it. We enjoy our conversations. We enjoy hanging out. We have our fun times.

     “To be with one of the top two best players in the league, in my opinion, who can score at will and do whatever he wants (would be great). You could have a Big Three with me, him and Brad (Beal), and I feel like that’s what you need to win a championship now is a Big Three. It’d be great to have him back home.”

     ESPN SportsNation already has posted a poll. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, the results were as follows:

     “What are the chances Kevin Durant plays for the Wizards during his prime?”

     * Good chance (29 percent)

     * Slim chance (44 percent)

     * No chance (27 percent)

     Maryland and Virginia were the only states where “good chance” received the most votes.

     Durant is handling the persistent inquiries as best he can. He’s also taking steps to avoid the distraction, telling ESPN’s Darren Rovell he would disconnect Twitter from his phone (but keep his account).

     This much is certain: Durant will weigh his options when his current contract expires. He will listen to offers and meet with suitors, neither of which he did when he signed a five-year contract extension with the Thunder at 11:02 p.m. Central time on July 7, 2010, just two minutes after the earliest possible moment.

     Until he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016, Durant will continue to profess his love for Oklahoma City, the entire Thunder organization, his teammates, local firemen and law enforcement officers, his mailman, on and on.

     However, Durant will make no promise to remain in OKC, nor should Thunder fans expect him to commit. He deserves the right to ponder his future.

     Come decision time, a 27-year-old Durant will have given his first nine seasons – roughly 800 games including the postseason – to the same organization.

     In six seasons, Durant already has given OKC five straight postseasons, five straight All-Star appearances, four NBA scoring titles, three Western Conference Finals, one NBA Final and arguably the best MVP acceptance speech in the history of the game.

     No telling what could happen the next two seasons and how it might influence Durant’s decision. Fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will still have one year remaining on their Thunder contracts (with no early termination options) when Durant’s current deal expires.

     If the Thunder wins the NBA title, would Durant be more inclined to stay in OKC?

     “Two (championship) years straight? That would be cool,” Durant told USA Today. “It would definitely be tough to (leave then). That’s one of those things where you’ve got a dynasty now. But like I said, I don’t want to think too far down the line. I’m trying to focus on today. I love my teammates, my coaches, the front office, the city, but we’ll see.”

     “I grew up watching the Wizards, (the) Bullets-Wizards,” Durant told the Washington Post. “I grew up taking the train to that arena all the time. I watched Georgetown, I watched the Bullets, I watched the (WNBA's) Mystics, so that whole city is a part of me, is in my blood. Like I said, I love going back home to see my family and stuff and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City, too.”

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