Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant will have his pick of the litter when he hits free agency next offseason, but according to a recent report, KD may be leaning toward making a move out West to the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Tuesday's episode of ESPN's First Take, Stephen A. Smith reported Durant has interest in joining the Lakers if he doesn't re-sign with the Thunder, per Steve DelVecchio of Larry Brown Sports.
"Regardless of how senseless it may (sound), in one breath I'm hearing that if Kevin Durant doesn't stay in Oklahoma City, L.A. is his primary objective and landing spot as opposed to South Beach or even his home of Washington, D.C.," Smith said.
"I don't talk to Stephen A Smith at all," Durant said Friday, per Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman. "No one in my family, my friends do. So he's lying."
Smith issued a statement of his own Friday (full version here), saying in part:
At no time did I ever say I spoke to K.D. Or his family. Or his brother, friends, teammates, etc. (although I can assure you all I have on several occasions in the past). I said I heard from folks I know -- in a league I've been covering for 19 years -- that if he were to leave OKC as a free agent, these are the cities I was told he was considering. OKC. LA. Miami. DC. NY. I stand by it all. And that is that.
With future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant potentially on the verge of retirement, one can only assume that the Lakers would love to sign Durant, although it is unclear if he reciprocates that desire, especially since L.A. could be among the NBA's worst teams this season.
Durant will undoubtedly be among the hottest commodities to ever hit the free-agent market, and there has been no shortage of rumors and speculation regarding where he'll ultimately land. The six-time All-Star and former NBA MVP has a chance to shift the balance of power in the league.
While he has been linked to several different teams, the 27-year-old superstar insisted to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com in August that any such talk is nothing more than hearsay:
I've got two people that I trust with my life, my agent and my manager, who's my best friend as well. I trust them with my life. So if you hear sources or anything, don't believe it if it didn't come from them. I tell them everything. We bounce ideas off each other. We collaborate on a lot of different things. They give me advice. so throughout this year, if you hear sources from anybody, it's not true, unless you hear it from Charlie Bell, Rich Kleiman or Kevin Durant.
Despite Durant's comments, there is little doubt that the rumor mill will continue to churn out gossip until he officially signs a contract. Until then, the four-time scoring champion will likely be focused on the 2015-16 season as he returns from a foot injury that cost him much of the 2014-15 campaign.
OKC is considered to be among the top contenders to win this year's title thanks to the combination of Durant and Russell Westbrook, provided that new head coach Billy Donovan meshes with the two Thunder superstars.
The manner in which the 2015-16 season plays out could have a massive impact on whether KD decides to remain with the Thunder or sign elsewhere.
He will have plenty to think about when his contract officially runs out, but Durant has given every indication that he doesn't intend to put time and energy into free agency until it happens.
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