The Oklahoma City Thunder organization is built upon the idea of sustainable success. And in the past several years, it has come through with consistent title-contending years.
The problem is the Thunder may be in danger of losing that sustainability, and that danger is ironically in the hands of the player that has given OKC so much.
Even though Kevin Durant will remain in the Thunder blue for the next two seasons, talk has already transpired among fans and followers concerning his future destination if/when he hits free agency.
There are several reasons people believe KD will eventually leave the Thunder: his hometown ties to Washington D.C., desire for a more marketable city and recent change in representation to Jay Z's RocNation.
I don't know what the big deal is. As a player, I think that's the best way to go about it. You can have all your options. It's better for you as a player to opt-out, because you can get a market deal. You can get more years. You never know what will happen if you pass up on that. So I didn't know what the big deal was. I'm sure it was a decision he made, something he was thinking about, for him and his family.
After Durant backed LeBron's desire to test the free-agency waters, LeBron ended up relocating back to his hometown team in the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many now question if Durant will follow suit.
But when asked about his own future, KD has been less revealing and claims he hasn't thought that far down the road. Here's what he said to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne in July:
I’m going to do what’s best for me. It’s hard to talk about that right now when I’ve got two years left in Oklahoma City. I’m just going to focus on that. I’m not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does. I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too.
Whether rumors of KD's eventual departure from the Thunder can hold water, a consenting realization among OKC fans and followers is beginning to grow.
And that realization is that the Thunder's window of opportunity is likely within the next two years.
The Thunder are fortuitous for having a player like Durant since the existence of the organization. It's not common for teams to feature one of the top two or three players on the planet. And in a way, OKC has been spoiled for having him. KD has been the main ingredient in the Thunder's rise to elite status.
Each year, Durant carries the weight of hopes and expectations of an entire state. For a vast majority of players—even star players—that is an unfair burden. But it's different with a special player like KD.
Each season, Durant carries his weight and leads his team to success. He's been the scoring champion three times, he's the reigning MVP, he's led OKC to the Western Conference Finals three times and the NBA Finals once.
The unbelievable things KD can do on a basketball court should never be taken for granted. And as Thunder fans may figure out in a couple years, life without a player like KD on your team can be a very, very scary thing, especially after having witnessed him lead their team to success for so many years.
It is unclear what Durant's intentions are for the future, but the fact remains that he has just two years left on his contract.
With that in mind, Thunder Nation might want to bank on a title within the next two years. After all, it's unlikely the Thunder will ever acquire another player like KD in the near future, and his eventual exit from OKC is very possible—or, dare I say, probable.
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