With the NBA Finals upon us, free agency is just around the corner. Players can start signing with teams at 6:00 p.m. ET on June 30. The biggest prize of this year’s free agency is going to be the Warriors’ Kevin Durant. He’ll have a big decision to make after his team plays in the finals, with many people thinking it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that Durant will sign with the Knicks. But one of Durant’s former teammates thinks he’s going to stay in California rather than heading across the country.
Kendrick Perkins thinks Kevin Durant will head down the coast
Kendrick Perkins, Durant’s friend and former teammate with the Thunder, has been making the rounds in the media recently, and one of his comments raised eyebrows. Perkins said that he thinks Durant will sign with the Clippers over all the other teams who call on him during free agency.
Perkins said Durant doesn’t talk to him about free agency, but he told FS1 that Durant has thrown out the idea of going to the Clippers because “he likes the organization. He likes [Clippers head coach] Doc Rivers, he loves Doc Rivers.”
In a separate appearance on FS1’s “The Herd,” Perkins said he “would really consider going to the Clippers” if he was Durant because of what new owner Steve Ballmer and the front office are doing. For his part, Durant’s business manager Rich Kleiman has said that the former MVP is “100 percent undecided” on where he will play past this postseason.
The Big Apple vs. The City of Angels?
New York and Los Angeles are the two biggest media markets in the country, and the Knicks and Clippers would both love to land the coveted free agent. The Knicks lost one of their potential selling points after failing to get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery, losing out on their chance to land presumptive top pick Zion Williamson in this year’s draft.
Ballmer owning the Clippers is likely more appealing to Durant than playing for Knicks owner James Dolan, who is widely considered one of the worst owners in American professional sports. Even on the court, the Clippers may be the better choice for Durant. He will be 31 when next season begins, and considering his age, he probably wants to go to a team that will be competitive right away. The Clippers made the playoffs with a 48-34 record this season, while the Knicks are in rebuilding mode; they were 17-65 this season, the worst record in the NBA.
One downside to joining the Clippers, though, is that Durant will be overshadowed by a guy who plays on the other team that calls Staples Center home: LeBron James.
What about the money?
The Clippers have the cap space to sign both Durant and another big-name free agent this offseason, with Kawhi Leonard reportedly on their radar. The Knicks can also clear enough space to sign Durant and another max-level free agent, such as Leonard, Kyrie Irving or Klay Thompson.
The Knicks can sign Durant for a salary starting at more than $38 million. If Dolan and the Knicks offer Durant more money than the Clippers, that may be enough to convince him to sign with them, regardless of the ownership or on-court situation of the team.
Durant has already won multiple NBA titles with the Warriors, so he may be trying to score as big of a contract as possible instead of looking to sign with a team that gives him the best chance to add more rings to his fingers. We’ll find out for sure this summer what Durant decides, but he has a number of factors to consider while deciding which team he wants to play with for the next several seasons.