Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant's impending free agency is the hottest topic on the NBA rumor wire, with nearly half of the league throwing their names in the hat for an opportunity at signing a once-in-a-generation talent.
Who's got the inside track at landing Durant this summer? Don't listen to the critics -- here's why the Los Angeles Lakers are the prohibitive favorites to bring Durant out West.
3. Career Opportunities
Durant's brand as an endorsement icon is undeniable. His $36.2 million in "extra income" trails only LeBron James ($48 million) for the 2015 tax cycle.
Think about this -- Durant has built one of the most valuable images in the league playing in a middle-market with Oklahoma City. That's extremely impressive, and even more so considering that he's also the main reason why the Thunder have gone from "SuperSonics East" to a legitimate big-ticket draw.
Enter Los Angeles. It's more apparent than ever in this salary cap world that the real $$$ for NBA stars is in endorsements and outside revenue. Move Durant's brand into the media capital of the nation (sorry, New York), and there's a good possibility he could end up dwarfing LeBron James' income by year two or three of his deal with the Lakers.
Money talks. The Lakers can do plenty of shouting, both with their wallets and others'.
2. Biggest Fish In A Giant Pond
The popular notion right now is that the Golden State Warriors have the best chance of signing Durant this coming offseason if he decides to leave OKC, using him as a superstar replacement for Harrison Barnes.
However, such a hypothetical move has the stink of a Kevin Love-esque bomb to it. The ball can only be shared so much in an offense, and ball-dominant guards like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would have to alter their approaches to give Durant a superstar's share of touches.
Plus, there's the ego factor. Steph Curry's always going to be at the top of the shelf in the Bay, with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson not far behind. In Los Angeles, Durant would become a cornerstone and a first-rate legend in waiting. Plus, he can use the bright lights and big-time atmosphere to lure his friends and other marquee free agents to Staples (more on that in a second.)
1. The Russell Westbrook Factor
Per Stephen A. Smith of ESPN (via the LA Examiner):
"Keep in mind this, one of the biggest reasons I’m told, that Kevin Durant may have the Lakers at the top of his list, is because the Lakers have been led to believe, by whom specifically I do not know, but the Lakers have been led to believe that it is a very good chance that the following year Russell Westbrook is coming.”
Westbrook has shot down the idea of coming to Los Angeles in the 2017 offseason, at least for now. However, there's no team in better position to make a relocation of the duo possible than the Lakers. L.A. has just $23 million on the books for next season, and just a little more of that with wage-scale increases the year after.
Throw a max deal at Durant, or a one-year sheet to test the waters. Throw a max deal at Westbrook. Give them Hollywood at their fingertips. Oklahoma City may be home right now, but Hollywood would be forever for the duo's legacy.Back to the Los Angeles Lakers Newsfeed