The Spurs may have designs on pursing Kevin Durant this summer, a number of rival executives have informed Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. The small forward is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will arguably be the biggest available prize on the market. The Thunder, who hold the player’s Bird rights, are still the favorites to re-sign Durant, but the Warriors, Clippers and Wizards have all been mentioned as possible landing spots should he choose to leave Oklahoma City. It’s worth noting that Durant played his college ball in Texas, though he is originally from the Washington D.C. area, which could make the Wizards an appealing alternative.
Of course, expressing interest in a player and actually signing him are two different things. San Antonio currently has $70,429,409 in salary committed for 2016/17 against a projected cap in the range of $90MM-$95MM, which certainly presents a challenge in regard to inking Durant, whose maximum salary is projected at $24.9MM. The trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker alone are set to earn a combined $52,658,381 million next season, Mannix notes. Further muddying the waters are Tim Duncan ($5,643,750) and Manu Ginobili ($2,940,630), who both possess player options. If one or both were to retire, it would help free up more cap room, though the pair could also opt out and seek more money to re-sign, which could scuttle any plans to add Durant, the Vertical scribe notes. San Antonio could also look to trade Danny Green, who is set to earn $10MM in 2016/17, and/or Boris Diaw, who is slated to make $7MM next season, the Vertical scribe speculates. Diaw’s deal is partially guaranteed for $3MM, but it will become fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster past June 30th.
There is also the matter of what position Durant would play if he were to join San Antonio. The Spurs already have a budding superstar in Leonard, who also plays small forward. Mannix cites the versatility of both players in speculating about a potential San Antonio lineup that includes Durant and Leonard. While both players would likely play alongside one another effectively, that would require Aldridge to move to center full-time, a position he hasn’t been too keen on playing in the past, Mannix notes.
One reason Durant may consider leaving the Thunder is the alleged discord between him and teammate Russell Westbrook, Mannix writes.. Durant insists things are fine between himself and his teammates, as he told Mannix. “Look, we like each other,” Durant said. “We like playing with each other. We like being around each other. Sometimes it comes down to basketball. Sometimes, X’s and O’s are the reason you lose games. It’s not always leadership issues or camaraderie issues; sometimes other teams just play better basketball than you. But we love each other.”
The Thunder have their work cut out this season if they hope to overtake the Warriors and Spurs in the West, a challenge Durant told Mannix he embraces. “I think I’m playing a little more free than I used to,” Durant relayed. “I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d think, ‘Maybe I’m not being a good enough leader. Maybe I should change my personality.’ I was always thinking ‘What if I change this?’ ‘What if I change that?’ instead of just going out and being me. I’ve just been about playing the game at the level I like playing at and playing with the level of joy I like playing with.”
How would Durant look in a Spurs uniform next season? Sound off in the comments section with your thoughts and opinions.