NBA superstars usually don’t leave in free agency, but basketball fans will point to LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the biggest reasons for major offseason moves if a rampant trend begins.
However, Durant thinks his counterpart is done switching teams.
While appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast, the Golden State Warriors forward said he shared his thoughts on James’ future with the Cleveland Cavaliers star, who will be a free agent in the summer of 2018.
“I personally always said he was staying. I told him this.”
Durant added he believes Cleveland isn’t done dealing and will trade the Brooklyn Nets pick acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade. If that happens, Durant said, it signals that the Cavaliers know LeBron is staying with the franchise and will sign a new contract.
“That’s me. I feel like he’s going to end it in Cleveland. That’s his crib. That’s the crib now. He run it, and I’m sure he’s going to turn that into something mega once he’s done. Like — he’s going to do something.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Cavaliers used the likely lottery pick to land another superstar. However, while any franchise would benefit from having a promising player on a cheap contract, Cleveland especially needs to be mindful of the salary cap.
According to Basketball Insiders, the team is already committed to more than $135 million of payroll for the 2017-18 season. Since the luxury tax line is projected in the neighborhood of $120 million, the organization will be writing some extra — and large — checks to the league unless it can trade Iman Shumpert and shed a little more salary.
Plus, beyond keeping the Brooklyn pick in case LeBron departs, the draft choice also provides Cleveland a little protection should Isaiah Thomas, who will also be a free agent in 2018, leave next summer.
No matter what happens, the trade has given the Cavaliers more options in case of emergency. Even if it doesn’t guarantee LeBron signs an extension, a promising future is critical to keeping the three-time champion happy. That way, he’ll stay in Cleveland like Durant expects.