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Kevin Durant responds to ‘prediction’ he’ll leave Thunder in free agency

Oct 25, 2013, 1:31 AM EDT

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony all have the ability to opt out of their current deals to become unrestricted free agents following the upcoming season.

There have only been very minor rumblings surrounding these star players, however, because even the inquisitive media members hoping for a story know that there is way too much that can happen over the next nine months or so that can influence those potential decisions.

If being less than a year away from free agency is too far away to predict which way a player might lean, then it would stand to reason that being a few years out would make it even more impossible to determine whether or not someone might leave their current situation when the opportunity presents itself.

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Kevin Durant is under contract in Oklahoma City through the end of the 2016 season, yet a former player and current analyst made an outlandish and baseless prediction that Durant would leave the Thunder in free agency as soon as he had the chance (and go to Houston). As is always the case in these situations, Durant was asked about this nonsense, and he responded.

From Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

Q: Did you hear what Jalen Rose said about the Houston thing?
A: Yep.

Do you have any thoughts on that?
Nah, I’m here for the Thunder (laughs). I mean, that’s all I can say. I’m not thinking far down the line at all. It’s about today. Today we got better against the Chicago Bulls. I can’t tell the future. I can’t speak on that. That’s his opinion. I’m just going to keep playing for the Thunder. I love playing here.

People probably will continue to say that for the next three years.
Unfortunately.

How do you deal with that?
I mean, just let them know I’m not thinking that far down the line, I guess. I mean, I love my teammates. I love where I live. I love playing for this organization. So I’m just taking it a day at a time.

It’s truly unfortunate that a player has to respond to something that a talking head says just because of the strength of the platform from where he speaks, but this is the world we’ve created for ourselves.

Durant responded as he’s likely to for the next three years. But people making “predictions,” no matter how ridiculous, shouldn’t be something that we bother the game’s brightest stars with. Let’s stick to the facts, people — at least as much as possible.

  1. thundersandpackers - Oct 25, 2013 at 1:42 AM

    please team up with D ROSE

    • somekat - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      Nobody wants to go to a city that has a higher kill rate than Afghanistan

  2. legend30 - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    In other words, what he’s actually saying is, y’all shouldn’t trade Harden and if we don’t win a championship in the next three years, then I’m leaving this sorry a$$ front office.

    • pukpokito - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:39 AM

      This actually is a right and calculated answer.Thunder Management should be on their toes and get him the players to make it happen.

    • padraighansen - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      The Harden trade was tough, but I’m not really sure what choice the organization had. Harden is a max guy, and very few teams can weather 3 max guys on their roster and still have pieces around them that contribute. Even in Miami, with their big 3, none of them are max contracts. I think a bigger issue was the decision not to amnesty Perkins and create additional cap room. I get the Bill Simmons-like obsessiveness with the Harden trade, but the numbers just would not work to keep him. It’s the NBA’s new reality, unfortunately.

      • zerole00 - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        The thing about Miami’s salary cap as well is that with their 3 top players only the last year of their contracts will be subject to the new CBA tax. If the Thunder had signed Harden as well they would have had 3 max contracts mostly under the new tax.

        They’re not in a huge market as well so it just wasn’t the right financial decision for them.

      • zeedoubleyou - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        The one thing I think everyone can agree upon is that it was impossible for OKC to afford KD, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka long-term. Even as someone who thinks Perkins should have gotten the amnesty before last season, I get that small market teams paying someone $8+ million/year to play for another team is not something ownership will support.

        Nothing against Ibaka, but doesn’t a core of KD, RW and JH seem more formidable than KD, RW and SI?

        It’s not that the numbers didn’t work to keep Harden, it’s that they didn’t work to keep both Harden and Ibaka.

      • zerole00 - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        It depends what you’re looking for.

        Would the Thunder’s offense be insane with KD, RW, and JH? Yep.

        Would the Thunder’s defense be better with KD, RW, and SI? Yep.

        I’m guessing the way they saw it, their offense was going to be top 5-10 with just KD and RW, but SI’s the backbone of their defense so they decided to go with the more balanced team. It’s kinda hard to fault them on that.

  3. adamsjohn714 - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    Doesn’t the last sentence seem a bit disingenuous coming from a website that has predictions for every team? It’s sportswriting. You predict, pick a narrative that you like/others are saying, ignore what disagrees with that narrative, and emphasize anything that agrees with it. If your predictions are wrong, you do a little revisionist history magic and pretend like you knew it was going to happen all the time.

    Now, that seems like a very negative view on sportswriting, but I certainly don’t read it for its accuracy. It’s fun, fluff stuff and some of the analysis gives me a laugh. Plus, sometimes you read some good writing.

  4. pistolpete0903 - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    It’s Jalen Rose we are talking about!!!!!!

  5. detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    3 years is a long time. Durant could suffer a career ending injury by then. However, could you blame him for leaving IF they don’t win a ring? I would say he’d be more likely to join Rose or Lebron than Dwight.

  6. david407 - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:06 AM

    Jalen Rose’s crazy predictions are actually right a lot of the time(he predicted Harden would be traded before the season started, just days before it happened). I just don’t see Daryl Morely gutting a contending team of all its role players to clear cap space for a chance to go after another superstar wing player

    • antistratfordian - Oct 25, 2013 at 5:11 AM

      Daryl Morey is a very happy camper as it is. He’s betting on Dwight returning to form, the ascension of Harden’s PER (essentially) and the continued Progress of Parsons. If those things happen then the Rockets will be in the finals at some point – they won’t need KD.

    • somekat - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      everybody and their mother knew Harden was going to get traded, and OKC wasn’t going to let him walk for nothing. That wasn’t really a prediction as much as parroting a fact that everyone already knew

  7. unfly - Oct 25, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    It’s pretty lame to take a dig at Jalen Rose like that and accuse him of grandstanding and being a ‘talking head’ – if you watch the full video on Grantland the whole series is about predicting outcomes for each team, not gossiping. As he said he was simply giving his opinion and speculating on what might happen down the line once Dwight Howard inevitably declines. The Internet caught hold of the guess (recorded long before when it came out, by the way) and ran with it.

    I love Grantland and I love PBT, no need to throw shade on Jalen Rose for speculating.

    And if you REALLY want to take it there, you’ll notice that at no point did KD deny that he wouldn’t go anywhere in the future. Just sidestepped the question entirely like he was supposed to.

  8. antistratfordian - Oct 25, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    So Durant is keeping the door open…

    • “I’m not thinking far down the line at all. It’s about today.”
    • “I can’t tell the future. I can’t speak on that.”
    • “So I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

    But I guarantee you one of the first thoughts that rolled through his mind about this was: “Man, I’ll never win an MVP playing with James and Dwight. There’s not enough ball to go around.”

    So Thunder fans probably don’t have to worry about Houston.

    • adamsjohn714 - Oct 25, 2013 at 5:09 AM

      Didn’t Lebron say something along the lines of the MVP being out the window when he teamed up with Wade? He won 2 of them recently.

      Durant is going to score a bunch of points and going to win a bunch of games each year, regardless of team. That’s basically the MVP criteria for most voters. Either way, I seriously doubt Durant immediately thought of his MVP aspirations.

      • antistratfordian - Oct 25, 2013 at 5:21 AM

        Well, let me state the obvious: Durant is not LeBron.

        And LeBron probably wouldn’t have left Cleveland if he didn’t already have two MVPs. When he got to Miami one of the first things he said was that he probably wouldn’t win another one. D.Wade was aging though – Bosh proved softer than expected – etc.

        But Dwight isn’t soft and neither Dwight or Harden are aging.

        Another thing is LeBron isn’t currently playing with anyone like Dwight Howard – as Durant would be. Like LeBron, Dwight Howard is also a perennial MVP AND DPOY candidate. Durant can’t hope that Dwight turns ineffective and that James Harden suddenly plays like he has no knees – and then when they do he has to actually carry them. Nah, no MVP for Durant in Houston.

        And if you think Durant isn’t hyper aware of his MVP situation then you don’t know how basketball stars think.

      • adamsjohn714 - Oct 25, 2013 at 5:40 AM

        I think I have exactly the same insight into Durant’s insight that you do. Also, Durant has already been on MVP voter’s radar for a while, and has considerable positive narrative equity that Howard simply doesn’t have. Durant isn’t as good as Lebron, but he’s the 2nd best player in the game. It doesn’t matter if Howard returns to form as the dominant big of the NBA, Durant will score more points and people like him better, so he’ll be the “reason” the team does well, and a high scoring player on a winning team, aka the de facto MVP choice. They gave Rose the MVP for those very reasons, even when he had Noah leading the team.

        It’s completely laughable to assume that a guy can’t win MVP if he’s on a team with two other guys who are either great or perceived as great (bosh). That’s exactly what’s happened 2 straight years.

      • antistratfordian - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        “Durant isn’t as good as Lebron, but he’s the 2nd best player in the game.”

        yeah, well you know that’s going to stop being said if 1) Durant doesn’t make an all-defensive team sometime soon and 2) doesn’t start showing more overall excellence (still averages more turnovers than assists on his career).

        If CP3 leads his team to a great recordt, makes all-nba first team and all-defensive first team, and ends up deep in the playoffs… Durant may be pushed from that #2 spot.

        NBARank had CP3 at 9.48 at #3 and KD at 9.83 at #2. They’re close. KD better watch his back.

        “It’s completely laughable to assume that a guy can’t win MVP if he’s on a team with two other guys who are either great or perceived as great (bosh). That’s exactly what’s happened 2 straight years.”

        ONLY LEBRON JAMES CAN DO THAT. HELLO! MCFLY! Nobody else is winning an MVP playing with Wade and Bosh.

      • adamsjohn714 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:37 AM

        #1 NBA rank is stupid. Don’t bring it into an intelligent discussion.

        #2 Scoring a lot of points and being on a winning team = MVP consideration (rightly or wrongly). Durant’s going to check both of those boxes. CP3 certainly deserves being in the MVP discussion, though. He’s amazing and easily the best PG.

        #3 The flaws in Durant’s game are apparent, yet he can make up for them in other areas. Lebron is pretty much great at everything, be it shooting, defense, passing, rebounding, etc. It’s an incredibly well rounded game that makes him tremendously valuable. Durant struggles to keep up in a couple of those areas, yet he’s easily the most efficient scorer in the NBA, and he scores with incredible volume. He just had a better scoring season this past year than Jordan ever did in terms of Net points (points – FGAx1 + FTAx.44). Efficient scoring is the most important part of basketball, so it masks some of Durant’s other flaws and gives him a legitimate shot at becoming more productive than Lebron. Sadly for Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are doing stupid things with their roster again, so he doesn’t have a shot at MVP as their team success won’t stand out as much.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        I’m afraid you’re too late. I already have CP3 ahead of Durant as the 2nd best player in the league. He’s convinced me based on his level of completeness.

        I’m afraid KD is always going to average more turnovers than assists on his career and never learn how to defend. He’ll still make the hall of fame though – Dominique Wilkins was similar in that regard.

        And Durant is not the most efficient scorer in the NBA. That would be LeBron James. KD will never be more productive than LeBron. He can be immortal and play for 10,000 years and it will never happen unless he has a brain transplant (and managed to get a hold of LeBron’s).

      • adamsjohn714 - Nov 8, 2013 at 1:02 AM

        I didn’t say more productive. I said more efficient. Mostly due to his huge advantage in FT shooting. And I can’t fault you for putting Paul ahead of Durant. In my mind they flip flop for #2 pretty much all last year, with Paul’s poor health being the deciding factor.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 8, 2013 at 1:33 AM

        I didn’t say more productive either. Durant is a more productive scorer anyway since he literally scores more points than LeBron.

        I don’t think his FT shooting is an advantage – it actually reveals his weakness as a scorer because he relies too much on flopping and getting to the line. What happens when he doesn’t get the call? His scoring efficiency isn’t anywhere near where it is with LeBron unless he gets some help.

      • adamsjohn714 - Nov 8, 2013 at 4:39 AM

        I don’t think you can just dismiss those FTAs as just an amazing stroke of luck that’s lasted several seasons now. He gets to the line a lot because he draws a lot of fouls. And regardless of some wild conspiracy theory, the free throws Durant has taken up to his last game ACTUALLY happened, and he was tremendously efficient with them, so their production ACTUALLY count.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 8, 2013 at 5:01 AM

        “I don’t think you can just dismiss those FTAs as just an amazing stroke of luck that’s lasted several seasons now”

        It definitely isn’t luck. It’s all calculated. They outlawed his rip-through move because it amounted to cheating/flopping… he just adjusted and did the same thing in other ways.

      • adamsjohn714 - Nov 8, 2013 at 5:20 AM

        So Durant is a cheater/flopper and doesn’t deserve any of those free throw attempts, etc. He probably has the missing moon landing footage and is using it to blackmail NASA into sending invisible brain waves to David Stern and the referees.

        You’re argument is the equivalent of me saying that Lebron wouldn’t be so efficient if he didn’t make his jumper ever. His jumpshot is actually a detriment to his game because without it, he wouldn’t be any good. You start out making reasonable arguments, and then you just keep saying dumber and dumber things.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 8, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        You’re wrong. LeBron doesn’t get his jumper off by convincing the ref to stop play so he can take an uncontested set shot from the free throw line. Durant has been relying that since he was a rookie. This is why his scoring average over his career from actual in-game buckets is only in the high teens – last year it was 19.7. It was the lowest of the top 4 scorers.

        That’s his whole shtick. The guy doesn’t go to the line 26 times in a game because he attacks a lot – he’s a jump shooter – 62.3% of his shots come from midrange and beyond last year – but he knows how to play the refs. Jump shooters don’t go to the line almost 30 times in a game, except Durant – and it is not coincidental that he happens to be the same guy the league tried to crack down on previously for ref manipulation. He’s still at it.

      • sportsfan18 - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        One more obvious point to state.

        In the summer of 2016, when Durant may go somewhere, Dwight will turn 31 in the 16/17 season and it will be his 13th season in the NBA.

        I’d call that aging. You’d have a player that has only been known to be good due to his athletic ability as he doesn’t really have a good game, shot etc… He’s already had back surgery and we’re talking 3 more seasons BEFORE Durant is a free agent.

        So anyone teaming up with Dwight beginning with the 2016/17 season will be getting a center in his 13th, 14th, 15th seasons…

        Maybe he continues to hold up physically… maybe not. Maybe his back gets injured again in 2 yrs…

        For a big, not necessarily a center, the player guys are going to want to team up with a few yrs from now will be Anthony Davis of the Pelicans… Not today, but in 3 to 4 yrs, he is who guys will look to join up with…

    • adamsjohn714 - Nov 15, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Good for Durant. Other jump shooters should emulate him and try to get to the FT line more. Free throws are good. Your argument is that they aren’t good because “boo hoo. I don’t like it.”

      • antistratfordian - Nov 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        The league is trying to get players to stop doing what Durant does. It’s the right thing to do. You should want players to earn their points through competition – not chicanery.

  9. misterdreamer119 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    hed definately leaving, but in 3 years.

  10. scalfor3 - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    I think Durant genuinely enjoys playing in OKC. I also think he knows it would be stupid to commit long term, especially considering the front office’s handling of Harden. Hence, “I’m not thinking that far down the line.”

    Basically, there’s a solid chance he leaves, but that’s three years from now. A lot could change between now and then.

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