OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant started his free agency tour in a familiar place.
Durant met with the Thunder on Thursday, hours before he officially hit the market.
Video from Fox 25 in Oklahoma City shows Durant arriving at Chesapeake Energy Arena and being greeted by general manager Sam Presti.
Durant still hasn’t made it clear whether he’s going to stay with the Thunder or chase a title elsewhere.
The NBA has been anticipating Durant’s decision for more than a year, as rarely does such an accomplished player become a free agent in his prime. The 2014 MVP and four-time scoring champion led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012, and to the Western Conference finals in four of the past six years — and he’s only 27. He recovered from a broken bone in his right foot that cost him much of last season to post one of the best years of his career.
Staying with Oklahoma City makes sense for Durant. The Thunder had a 3-1 lead on the Warriors before losing the next three games. Durant and the Thunder’s young core could make a move in the West, provided that the youngest emerging stars — Steven Adams and Enes Kanter — continue to improve at their rapid pace. The Thunder made a draft night trade and sent forward Serge Ibaka to Orlando for guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and draft pick Domantas Sabonis, strengthening the team’s depth and shoring up a question mark at shooting guard.
But Durant will have strong suitors, as reports say he will meet with Golden State, San Antonio, Miami, Boston and the Clippers in the coming days.
Durant can maximize his earning potential by re-signing a contract with the Thunder that allows him to become a free agent again next year, then signing a longer deal when the salary cap takes another big jump. The Thunder will be able to pay him the most in the long term.
Shortly after the season ended, Durant spoke as though he’d be back.
“Are we going to work on our game and come back even better, or are we going to be excited about what we did?” Durant said. “Be complacent, or are we going to want more? I think that’s the next step for us all – thinking of how we can all be better.”
Durant said he would limit outside influences before making his choice.
“I’ve got to just hear from me and hear what I want, and talk to myself on what I need and how I can make this thing work for myself, and just try to be a little selfish,” he said. “Obviously, I’m going to have some advice, but also, I want to make the decision that’s best for me.”
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