Thunder Rumors: Kevin Durant Stays In Free Agency? Lakers, Washington Wizards, Warriors, Mavericks Targets, Steve Novak Trade Option

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Jul 16, 2015 02:22 PM EDT
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Kevin Durant (35) of Oklahoma City Thunder controls the ball against Paul Pierce
Kevin Durant (35) of Oklahoma City Thunder controls the ball against Paul Pierce (34) of the Washington Wizards during their NBA game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2015."

The OKC Thunder are hoping to keep Kevin Durant in free agency in 2016 and teams like the LA Lakers, Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks are expected to give chase, but most league execs predict that Durant will stay and this comes as the team may consider a Steve Novak trade after signing Enes Kanter and dealing Perry Jones.

Durant is going to be the top player on the market in 2016 and while OKC has a good chance of keeping him, there are teams that have been salivating for the chance to woo Durant to their city. The Wizards are expected to be a prime target and could be the number two choice for Durant, as he is from Washington and could return home. The Thunder have been making moves with Durant in mind and that is likely why they matched the Blazers offer sheet to Enes Kanter this summer.

According to CBS Sports reporter Ken Berger, Durant could be targeted by a number of teams on the market, including the Lakers, Mavericks, Wizards and Knicks, as those teams could have the cap space to make competitive offers to Durant. Berger reports that an "informal" poll of league executives at the NBA Summer League showed that many think that Durant will end up staying in Oklahoma City. The reports says that they "expect Durant to stay in Oklahoma City," although he is likely to at least entertain offers from other teams.

Check here for more on the future for Kevin Durant and interest from teams like the Wizards, Lakers, Mavericks, Knicks and Warriors in free agency for 2016 and check here for more on the deal with Perry Jones to the Boston Celtics.

The Thunder are not known as "big money" spenders after the way the James Harden situation played out, but Durant is different and with the cap rising, the team could be ready to make moves. The Kanter situation played out the way it did because of Durant and the Thunder opted to take the luxury tax bill that came with the deal to help try and keep Durant. The team added Kanter in a trade and he got a four year, $70 million offer sheet from the Blazers, which OKC felt it had to match.

Berger writes that the team felt they had to bring back Kanter as a "down payment" for the team next year as they try to keep Durant. Kanter will be making a high salary, but with the cap going up, Berger writes that team "will be comfortably under the tax in 2016-17" and that keeping Durant is the only main priority for next summer. Durant likely will get some major offers from Washington and maybe even the Knicks, but Oklahoma City also will be attractive, as they have Russell Westbrook still in the fold and some young players like Kanter, Steven Adams, Dion Waiters and Cameron Payne.

The Thunder have made some moves this offseason by trading Perry Jones to the Celtics, Jeremy Lamb to the Hornets and signing Kyle Singler and that could mean a Steve Novak trade is an option as well. Chris Mannix at SI.com reported before the Jones trade that the team was shopping Jones, Novak and Jeremy Lamb earlier in the offseason and now they could complete the triple deal by moving Novak after the Jones and Lamb trades. Pro Basketball Talk reported that the Jones deal was mainly a money move, as the team was looking to dump salary moving forward, which is likely tied to the Durant chase.

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