Kevin Durant Wants to Sign Extension This Summer With Thunder
It would be. And, while we're at it, it also would be imbecilic, nonsensical and, possibly, franchise suicidal.
For starters, let it be known nobody on the Thunder has acknowledged it is an option to possibly wait until the summer of 2011 to re-sign Durant as a restricted free agent with the thinking a new collective bargaining agreement will have significantly reduced maximum salaries. But if it is an option, it's one that should quickly be eradicated from the minds of Thunder brass.
Just listen to the third-year forward talk. In an interview with FanHouse before Wednesday's game at Denver, Durant said his preference is to sign a contract extension this summer with Oklahoma City because he enjoys playing for the team so much. Why would Thunder officials even think for even one second about jeopardizing that by waiting a year?
"Yeah, that's what I want to do,'' Durant said about signing an extension when he first is eligible, which would be after negotiations can start July 1 and until Oct. 31. "I want to be here. I want to be part of this organization.''
If the Thunder this summer offers Durant a maximum contract extension, which would be in the neighborhood of $80 million over five years, Durant will reach quickly for a pen.
"If they did offer that, that would be something that nobody could turn down,'' Durant said. "I would be blessed and privileged and honored. But, at the same time, I've got to keep working. ... It would be good (to sign this summer). To know that I can be with a team for a couple (more) years will be cool.''
But here's a key question: Would Durant be offended if the Thunder didn't immediately offer a maximum contract extension this summer in anticipation of big possible changes after the current CBA expires June 30, 2011?
Durant started out by saying, "Not really.'' Of course, he's too polite to say anything other than that. But then listen to what followed after that.
"Of course, I know I'll be back the year after that, and you never know what will happen that next summer,'' Durant said.
You never do know. So why would the Thunder leave anything to chance?
This is a small-market team that has the NBA's brightest young star ready to sign on the dotted line. Why would team officials even think of possibly alienating the Durant camp, with the chance Durant could return for the qualifying offer of $7.9 million in 2011-12 and then bolt after becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2012?
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti should call Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, to offer a maximum extension at 11:01 p.m. CDT June 30. That's 12:01 a.m. EDT July 1, when free agency opens for business.
For what it's worth, Goodwin said he hasn't thought about whether he wants to definitely get Durant signed this summer. Goodwin was asked about Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel writing last month that "the Thunder could try to save some coin by waiting to sign Durant to a contract extension'' but that such a move only would happen "if the Thunder brass is idiotic.''
"I'm not going to justify that with an answer,'' Goodwin said.
For now, Durant, who entered Wednesday averaging 29.8 points for a 36-23 Thunder outfit in line to make the playoffs ahead of schedule, is a walking advertisement for Oklahoma City. And nothing figures to change before he's eligible to sign an extension this summer.
"I didn't get in the game for just the money,'' Durant said. "I want to be somewhere where I'm comfortable, where I have a chance to win a championship, and I think that will be here.''
OK, so Durant said that while sitting in a locker room in Denver. But you better believe he's talking about Oklahoma City.
Durant is a mild-mannered fellow who doesn't need the spotlight of a bigger city. Some might say that, at 21, he's a bit naive about NBA business dealings.
But Durant is doing what he can to get up to speed on negotiations for a new CBA, and how they might affect him. Owners have proposed drastically cutting salaries, with commissioner David Stern having said the league will lose $400 million this season.
"Yeah, I'm aware,'' Durant said of what's going on. "It's something a player needs to get involved in. At the same time during the season, it's in the back of our minds. ... But it is something we have to worry about.
"I'm sure they'll get something done. Hopefully, they do. If there were a lockout, I don't know what I would do without basketball. ... I'm sure there will be some tough talk (in negotiations), but I have faith something will get done.''
Nevertheless, Durant said it would be a burden off his mind if he could get a deal done this summer.
"If I do sign something, that will be a plus, '' Durant said. "If I don't, I've just got to continue to work and continue to improve.''
The modest Durant said "vibes I've been getting'' is Thunder officials "want me to be here.'' There's no doubt about that. Who wouldn't want a guy who can do just about everything on the basketball court and is a consummate gentleman off it?
For the Thunder to do anything this summer that potentially could change those vibes Durant is getting would be vacant-minded.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson