Most of the executives with whom Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has spoken at summer league think Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Thunder in free agency next summer. The Lakers, Mavericks and Wizards are among a small group of teams with any legitimate shot at the former MVP, Berger adds. The Knicks are also on the fringes, though Berger largely dismisses their candidacy.
Dallas had begun to think of itself as a contender for Durant when it had secured commitments from DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, and while Jordan’s well-publicized flip-flop might have hurt the confidence of the Mavs, it seems they’re still in the picture. An associate of Durant’s recently told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that if Durant were to leave the Thunder, he would do so to sign with the Wizards, the forward’s hometown team. Another person close to Durant told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News several months ago that Durant could envision playing with the Knicks. An NBA GM told Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv around that same time that the Knicks had about the same shot as non-Thunder contenders for his services that at that point included the Clippers and Nets as well as the Wizards and Lakers.
The latest projected maximum salary for Durant, who’ll be a nine-year veteran after next season, is $24.9MM, according to former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The surging salary cap means 16 teams have at least $20MM in cap flexibility for next summer as it stands, Marks points out (All Twitter links). The Thunder aren’t among them, but they have Durant’s Bird rights to exceed the cap, and even after matching Portland’s max offer sheet to Enes Kanter on Sunday, they’re not in line to pay the luxury tax beyond 2015/16, even if they re-sign Durant, notes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).