OAKLAND, Calif. -- In the wake of the Oklahoma City's Game 7 loss in the Western Conference finals, pending free agent superstar Kevin Durant claimed he had yet to begin pondering his decision this summer.
"I mean, we just lost like 30 minutes ago, so I haven't even thought about it," Durant said during his postgame news conference after the Thunder's 96-88 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. "I'm just embracing my teammates and just reflecting on the season. I'll think about that stuff, I don't know when. But we just lost an hour ago, 30 minutes ago, so I don't know."
Durant, 27, a seven-time All-Star who has spent his entire nine-year career with the same organization, will be one of the most highly sought after free agents in NBA history.
With the salary cap soaring, the majority of the league will be in position to offer Durant a maximum contract with a starting salary of $25.9 million, with the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs among his many potential suitors.
Durant could sign a five-year contract worth a projected $149 million if he opts to return to Oklahoma City this summer. His max contract if he leaves for another team would be a projected $111 million over four years.
Another intriguing option for Durant this summer is to sign either a one-year deal or a two-year deal with a player option on the second season. With the cap continuing to rise and Durant reaching a decade of experience, which means he would be eligible for the highest level of a max contract, he could cash in the following summer.
In that scenario, Durant could make a projected $228 million over the next six seasons if he stays in Oklahoma City. He could make up to $176 million over five years if he leaves the Thunder, either this summer or in 2017.
However, Durant's thoughts in the Oracle Arena interview room Monday night focused on the opportunity the Thunder let slip away after seizing a 3-1 series lead over the 73-win Warriors and the pride he felt for his teammates. If the Warriors defend their title by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals, it would mark the fifth time in seven years that Oklahoma City was eliminated by the eventual champions.
"There's no moral victories in our locker room after the game," said Durant, who scored 12 of his 27 points during in the fourth quarter during a comeback bid that fell short. "We're all upset. We wanted to get a chance to play for a championship in the Finals, so that hurts.
"But when you sit down and look back at what happened throughout the season, you can be proud of not just the players, but everybody in the organization from the top to the bottom people that you guys don't know or ever see contribute to what we bring out on the court. That's just pride, effort, passion, love for the game. Pure love for the game every single night, and that comes from just walking into our practice facility every single day and feeling those vibes and feeling that energy from everyone. I'm just proud of what all we've been through this season. We stuck together and we sacrificed for each other. That's just what makes this game so special."