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OKC Trade Rumor: Kevin Durant’s Future in 2016 May Involve an Uncertain Trade

( [email protected] ) Nov 19, 2014 10:14 PM EST
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant isn't eligible for free agency until 2016. Despite that fact, the NBA rumor mill is already betting that his name will come up for trade during that time.
2013-14 NBA MVP: Thunder forward Kevin Durant was emotional after winning the award nearly unanimously. He averaged 32.0 points a game this season. Alonzo Adams, USA TODAY Sports

Even though Kevin Durant will not reach free agency until 2016, there are rumors running amok that his name might be up for potential trading when his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder expires.

That's because although Durant has played for the only NBA team he's ever known, the rest of the NBA league have set their sights on the current MVP. According to Dave Leonardis of Bleacher Report, the speculation regarding where Durant will go has reached fever-pitch levels not seen since LeBron James decided to take his talents to the Miami Heat back in 2010.

"For the next two years, Durant is the prettiest girl at the bar, and every team will be putting its best pitch together," Leonardis wrote. "It will be like men lining up after hearing Kate Upton will be on The Bachelor."

Durant also has something working in his favor, increasing the odds that a trade could happen when he reaches that status. According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, he would be entering free agency during a time when salary caps could reach record-breaking highs.

"No one knows how high the cap will go that summer," Lowe wrote. "If left unchecked, it could blow past $90 million."

Lowe adds that both the NBA and players' union are planning to artificially deflate the 2016-17 cap so the new TV money could be introduced more smoothly.

Even though lots of money could exchange hands during the 2016-17 season, the intel surrounding what Durant will do during that time remains a mystery.

"Some teams are optimistic it will be open season, and others have heard rumblings that Durant has already made it known it will come down to the Thunder and [Washington] Wizards," Lowe wrote. "Nobody really knows."

Lowe has also entertained the idea that Durant could sign a one-year extension so he could be a free agent again in 2017. This action would allow him to have a larger max contract based on his 10 years of professional experience.

However, a one-year deal does carry its own risks. According to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, it may be financially beneficial for Durant to take such a deal, but there could be other variables in play.

"Of course, there are risks there with the one-year deal," Helin wrote. "Injury, obviously, is the biggie but also remember we likely will see a lockout in the summer of 2017, and that puts all kinds of variables in play when trying to plan long term."

Although the Wizards, located near Durant's Maryland hometown, are thought to be in contention for him, Grace Quinto of Realty Today suggests that the Houston Rockets could make a move for him too, using one former Thunder teammate as their secret weapon.

"In 2016, the Rockets feel that they could make a serious run at acquiring Durant," Quinto wrote. "Sources indicated that [James] Harden, who played with Durant in Oklahoma City from 2009 to 2012, will play a big role in their recruiting pitch."

Despite the speculation on where Durant will end up in 2016, he hasn't given it a thought just yet.

"I really haven't thought about that, to be honest," Durant said. "I hear it a lot. But I think I can make an impact on the community I grew up from anywhere. So I think I'm doing a good job of that in Oklahoma. My friends, my family, the kids in my neighborhood, are seeing that. I'm inspiring them from Oklahoma City."

He may have plenty of time after all to make decision, but the rumors will keep spinning nonstop until that happens.

Tags : Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma City, Thunder, NBA trade rumors, NBA trade, NBA, NBA MVP, 2016