Kevin Durant knows his legacy has taken a hit, particularly among the old guard, for taking his talents to the Warriors after they won 73 games and eliminated his Thunder in the Conference finals a few short months before. After a pair of one-year deals—disguised as two-year deals, with a player option—to help ease the financial burden when the Warriors re-signed Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant signed the same type of deal this past summer, after opting out for the second summer in a row. This means he can again become a free agent this coming July.
His comments during Golden State's session with the media on Monday failed to illuminate any future plans beyond this coming season. When he was asked about life after the 2018-19 season, the crystal ball remained turbid: "I could have easily signed a long-term deal," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But I just wanted to take it season by season and see where it takes me. I think this whole year is going to be a fun, exciting year for us all, and I’m looking forward to just focusing on that."
In July, after three years with the Warriors, Durant's eligible for the "supermax" that would pay him an NBA-record $219 million over five years. The Warriors retain his Bird rights in that scenario, which means they can go over the cap to ink the deal. They'd need to because they're already paying Steph a supermax and they'll want to take care of Klay Thompson, whose deal expires next summer, and Draymond, whose deal ends the summer after that. But that didn't appear to be a part of KD's thinking at all on the precipice of preseason when he explained why he didn't want to be tied down by a longer deal:
"It was just one of those things where you’re just confident in your skills, and you just want to take it year by year," he said. "I think to keep my options open was the best thing for me." Since he's kept his subsequent seasons wide open, the basketball-watching populace gets to play the game of what if when forecasting what might happen in 2019-20 and beyond. It could be the Knicks, in a possible team-up with Kristaps Porzingis and Kyrie Irving, the latter of whom could also be a free agent this summer. Or, there were those rumors LeBron James texted KD about joining him in Los Angeles.
"Having that whole new team in L.A., with LeBron, the biggest name in basketball," Durant says when asked why it's not as hectic at Golden State's media day this year. "That’s obviously going to be a sexier story." But he didn't stop there when describing what LeBron's move to Hollywood means for the city and the atmosphere around the team: "All those people in the crowd, stars on the sidelines, knowing LeBron James calls that place home," Durant said, "should be pretty sweet when we walk in there."
Get ready, we're gonna be parsing his comments like this all season, wondering what the subtext might mean in July.