Kevin Durant has been quite a loyal son to Oklahoma City. Starting off his professional career with the then Seattle Supersonics, the small forward is the indubitable leader of the NBA team. The inclusion later on of Russell Westbrook only pushed Durant to carry the Oklahoma City Thunder to the championship. However, the NBA team has repeatedly failed to take home the trophy - only going as far as the playoffs year after year.
With the impending free agency of Durant, some basketball teams have been reportedly gearing up to sign the NBA star. The list of interested parties includes the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. However, a unique offer is coming from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The departure of Kobe Bryant from the NBA team leaves a gaping hole in the mentor department. Young stars like D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr are in dire need of a veteran guide in the hardwood court. With the substantial cap space that Bryant's exit will provide, the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be more than capable of offering Durant a huge paycheck.
However, salary appears not to be the main selling point of the Los Angeles Lakers. Sources revealed that Durant is getting lured into the Black Mamba's squad through a package deal involving Westbrook.
"Keep in mind this," said Stephen A. Smith in the Mason and Ireland show. "One of the biggest reasons, I'm told, that Kevin Durant may have the Lakers at the top of his list is because the Lakers have been led to believe - by whom specifically I do not know - but the Lakers have been led to believe that it is a very good chance that the following year Russell Westbrook is coming."
"Because of that, this notion that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook ain't tight, that they don't want to play together, that is a lie. They love each other, and they love being on the same team with one another," Smith added. "And if it so happens to be in the L.A. market, all the better. I'm not saying that it's done, I'm not saying that they said they're going to leave Oklahoma City, but it's a big possibility. It's a big possibility."
Meanwhile, another NBA team is emerging as serious contenders for Durant's free agency. Reports revealed that the Golden State Warriors are aggressively seeking ways to sign the Oklahoma City Thunder star. While the NBA community rejects the notion of Durant joining Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the idea might not be as farfetched as it seemed at the start of the NBA season.
"We obviously have a very appealing and attractive team and organization," said Joe Lacob The Vertical. The Golden State Warriors owner added, "We have a team - and a team concept. We're proud of that. Proud of the way the coaching staff coaches that way, the players play that way. And our leader, Steph, epitomizes that. I do think that they all just want to win. That's our mantra for the whole organization. I think anybody could feel comfortable coming onto this team."
"We're all about winning," Draymond Green told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. "One thing guys on this team don't care about is who is getting the shots, or who is scoring. Guys definitely want to play here, play with us. We're smiling. We're having fun. You can tell that. I definitely think it's become one of those places where guys will want to play."
It is no secret that Durant has been gunning for an NBA championship. Crowned as the NBA MVP a couple of times, the only thing missing for the Oklahoma City Thunder star is the championship trophy. Hence, the allure of the Golden State Warriors - a potential back-to-back champion - is reportedly to great to resist for Durant. Moreover, the Harrison Barnes appear to be extremely interested in acquiring the 6'9" star.
Wojnarowski noted, "[T]his is NBA free agency, and make no mistake: For the defending NBA champions, the plan of pursuit for Kevin Durant has long been in motion."