Oklahoma City remains the favorite in the Kevin Durant free agency sweepstakes, according to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. The Thunder have a significant advantage in the amount they can offer Durant, Slater notes, as he can make $229.5MM over the next six seasons if he opts out of a two-year deal next summer and signs a five-year max contract. OKC can also offer a guaranteed contender, as the Thunder just fell one game short of reaching the NBA Finals. Slater rates the Warriors, Spurs and Celtics as having the best chance to take Durant away, with the Heat and Clippers as long shots and the Wizards and Rockets as “delusional pipe-dreamers.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Durant gave at least his unspoken approval to the draft-day trade that sent Serge Ibaka to the Magic, writes Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. Given the uncertainty surrounding Durant, Amick says the Thunder never would have made such a major deal if they didn’t know he was on board with it.
- New Nuggets guard Jamal Murray can expect to begin the season in a sixth-man role, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Denver GM Tim Connelly says veteran shooting guard Gary Harris will continue to start, with Murray used for instant offense off the bench. “It’s Gary’s job,” Connelly said. “Certainly I hope Jamal does everything he does to potentially take the job, but Gary’s our starting two guard. [Drafting Murray] was an addition to what we think is a very strong backcourt already. We like the flexibility he provides us.”
- The Nuggets haven’t decided whether to bring over No. 15 pick Juan Hernangomez next season, Dempsey writes in the same piece. The 20-year-old power forward played for Real Madrid this season. “Both options are open,” Connelly said. “There are some pretty good international situations, if we want him to marinate a bit overseas. I think certainly he has the game to come over. If you’re productive at the ACB level, it usually translates. But it’s a conversation we’re going to have with his representatives and figure it out.”
- No. 5 pick Kris Dunn likes the situation he is entering with the Timberwolves, relays Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. The Providence point guard will be surrounded by young talents such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. “All those athletes … [who] like to play up and down, and that’s how my game is,” Dunn said. “I like to play at a fast pace, that up-tempo. We’re all young so I think it’s going to make the relationship even stronger because we’re all trying to learn together, we’re all trying to build together, and we’re going to try to compete every game.”