WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — NBA writer Chris Sheridan — who was the first to initially stake his reputation on reporting LeBron James would be returning to Cleveland, and a guy who makes his living fostering and manicuring relationships with top-level NBA execs — admits, even he’s heard Kevin Durant’s name “being mentioned with the nation’s capital” a lot recently.
Durant, as his contract dictates, stands to become a free agent following the 2015-16 NBA season. And the Wizards, Sheridan notes, have arranged their contracts in such a way (read more about that here) that in two years, they’ll have an opportunity to “go all-in on a max free agent.”
Sheridan, in speaking with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday, explained Duran’ts position a little better, and how the Thunder’s refusal to pay to retain talent around him could ultimately lead to his departure from Oklahoma City in 2016.
“I’ve heard Kevin Durant being mentioned with the nation’s capital a lot recently,” Sheridan said, when asked of the Wizards apparent setting aside of funds in 2016. “And there’s gonna come a point in Kevin Durant’s career, where he either wants to stick with the Oklahoma City Thunder, or whether he wants to say them, ‘You know what? You guys ruined a good thing here, because you refused to pay James Harden. We could have had a superstar trio that could have contended for the Western Conference title and the NBA title for 10 straight years, and you guys traded him away, and you got nothing back for him, and now look what happened — we can’t get over the hump because we don’t have that third guy.'”
“And teams that have three great players can become dynasties, and the Thunder had that opportunity, and they blew it, by refusing to pay James Harden,” Sheridan continued. “They chose to pay Kendrick Perkins instead. And at a certain point, Kevin Durant might want to say, ‘You know what? I’ve had enough of this franchise. I’ve been with this franchise since they moved from Seattle. The owners, at the end of the day, are cheapskates. They either don’t want to pay the luxury tax, or they don’t want to pay the requisite salary that certain guys deserve.'”
“Just because James Harden came off the bench in Oklahoma City, didn’t mean he wasn’t a max player, and I think he’s shown in Houston that he truly is a max player,” he said. “That can’t be sitting well with Kevin, especially if he keeps coming up short year after year after year. They’re a very good team, but they’re not a great team, and they’re competing against a great team in the San Antonio Spurs.
Sheridan then pointed to the Wizards $52 million already committed to players in 2016, while adding the caveat, much of that money is directly connected to team options, which of course, the team can either exercise or not. If not, they’re freeing that money up to be spent elsewhere, wherever that may be.
“So, if the Thunder keep falling short this year and then the year after that, I think there’s a real good chance that Kevin leaves, and where he might want to go, who knows,” Sheridan said.
“The Wizards already committed to $52 million in salary two years down the road, in ’16, ’17, but a lot of that is guys on options,” he noted. “So they will have an opportunity two years from now to go all-in on a max free agent, but in the meantime, they’ve got a hell of a solid team, and all these guys are gonna be around for a couple years. The only guy who comes off the cap after the upcoming season is Andre Miller, and he’s replaceable, so the Wizards team that you have now is the Wizards team you’re gonna have for the next two years. Again, it’s not a bad team.”
Sounds very similar to a piece I wrote yesterday about the Wizards smartly positioning themselves to win for the next two seasons, while also keeping their options wide open for 2016.
Listen to the interview below. Durant question at the end. There’s also an interesting note about Paul Pierce.