By RJ Young
Over the past week, much has been made of the NBA’s most promising and talented free agents. Meetings have been arranged; elaborate demonstrations and presentations have been made all in an effort to land one of the NBA’s premier players that are currently swimming freely in the waters of free agency, among several fishing franchises.
Throughout all of this, the Oklahoma City Thunder has kept their eye on the ball and the linchpin in their organization’s success on the hardwood, Kevin Durant. Today, Durant announced via his twitter account that he and the Thunder have come to terms on a five year deal that will keep with the Thunder through the 2015-2016 season.
The Oklahoman first reported the deal is worth $86 million and does not include an out clause for Durant. The clause could have let him do what many have done this summer and shop his services around the league to the highest bidder. Durant has since claimed that he doesn’t need or want such a clause in his contract. He is committed to the Thunder and they are committed to him.
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The Thunder front office could have waited until next summer to sign Durant, when price tag would be considerably less once a new collective bargaining agreement was reached between the NBA and the Players Association, but decided to reward their star player instead.
Durant has remained cordial with the Thunder front office since the beginning, publicly stating that he would like to play his professional basketball in Oklahoma City for a long time. The Thunder have reciprocated the sentiment and immediately got to work negotiating a max deal at the very start of this summer’s free agency period for their All-Star small forward and the league’s current and youngest scoring champion in NBA history.
In the interim of Durant’s contract discussions he has seen been in Orlando watching the Thunder’s summer league team play, very publicly and visibly supporting the franchise and showing fans and his current and future teammates he is in it for the long haul both legally and emotionally.
Durant played in all 82 games last season for the Thunder, averaged 30.1 points per game, 7.6 boards and shot 47% from the field. At 22 and going into his fourth season as an NBA player, Durant has yet to hit his prime and when he does, Thunder general manager, Sam Presti, is methodically seeing to it that he has the necessary pieces around him to compete for a championship year in and year out.
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Among the young supporting cast that is growing up in the NBA with Durant is point guard, Russell Westbrook, shooting guard James Harden and big man Serge Ibacka. In the draft this year, Presti made sure to draft a wealth of young, talented big men to help sure-up the low post including former University of Kansas star and 11th overall pick, Cole Aldrich, in a draft-day trade with the New Orleans Hornets.
While other NBA players are taking time off or shopping their skills among anyone of the NBA’s thirty franchises, Durant, has been becoming closer with teammates. He has been traveling the globe, even going to China to promote the NBA and the game of basketball.
His talent has truly manifested itself in this recent season, but his love for the game, the Thunder franchise and its fans are what have truly set him apart this summer.