The Nets are planning to pursue Kevin Durant when his contract expires after the 2015/16 season, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Brooklyn is set to have plenty of cap room in the summer of 2016, in spite of the team’s record payroll for this season, so it’s no surprise that GM Billy King and company have set their sights on the player most likely to be the top prize on the market that year.
Durant became the first major NBA client of Jay Z and the Roc Nation Sports agency earlier this year. Jay Z is a former minority owner of the Nets, though Durant has maintained that the hip hop icon will have no influence on his choice of teams, Bondy notes.
The three-time NBA scoring leader has dropped “odd hints,” as Marc Stein of ESPN.com put it in October, that he’s anxious to win a championship as the Thunder have shed key pieces in cost-cutting moves. The three-time NBA scoring leader said this past fall that he’s “not thinking that far down the line” with regard to 2016, and that he’s content in Oklahoma City, though he’s not sure what his future holds.
An Eastern Conference executive told Bondy that he believes Durant will leave the Thunder, though the exec acknowledged that it would be difficult for the five-time All-Star to find a better sidekick than Russell Westbrook, whose contract doesn’t expire until the summer of 2017. The Nets could have room enough to sign another marquee free agent to pair with Durant in 2016, since their only commitment for the following season is the final year of Deron Williams‘ deal, worth $22.3MM. Williams has an early termination option he can exercise in the summer of 2016, so there’s a chance his money won’t be on the Nets’ books. Brooklyn also has a team option it can decline on Mason Plumlee‘s rookie scale contract.
Durant appears headed for his first MVP award as he averages a career-high 31.3 points per game, which puts him far out in front in the race for what would be his fourth scoring title. There’s little doubt that teams around the league are considering the chances they could bring him aboard two summers from now, just as Oklahoma City will surely do all it can to retain him.