Durant focused more on playoffs than next contract
LOS ANGELES (AP) – If Kevin Durant leaves Oklahoma City, it won’t be because he doesn’t like it there.
The Thunder’s first-time All-Star forward already has gone on record as saying he thinks his team has a chance to win a championship if they stay together. Of course, that will hinge on whether Durant stays or bolts for a maximum contract offer elsewhere.
“That’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now,” Durant said before Friday night’s game against the Clippers. “It’s too early to talk about that. If I worry about that, it will take the focus off the team. I just want to continue to get better. The guys here have faith that I’ll be here for as long as possible.”
Durant has spent the past week playing leapfrog with LeBron James for the NBA scoring lead. The Thunder have never had a scoring champion in the franchise’s 43-year history. But that isn’t what motivates him.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with it,” the three-year veteran said. “I mean, coming into this league, I didn’t say, ‘I want to win the scoring title to get more money.’ I just want to be a champion.
“If winning a scoring title brings a championship, then I’ll be happy to do it. But I don’t worry about how much money I’m going to get. I just want to focus on my team trying try to get better. Once that time comes, we’ll talk about it. That’s the last thing I’m worrying about when I’m thinking about playing basketball.”
Durant who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011, has made it clear that if the Thunder give him a maximum contract offer – somewhere in the vicinity of five years and $80 million perhaps – then he’ll sign it. But negotiations with general manager Sam Presti can’t begin until July 1.
“I haven’t talked to Sam or anybody about that. It would be taking away from our team. That’s not how we are here,” Durant said. “The offseason is when you talk about things like that.”
Durant’s signature on the dotted line would certainly make life easier for coach Scott Brooks.
“That’s going to be a decision down the road, and at the appropriate time, he and Sam will talk about that,” Brooks said. “Kevin is a great teammate. He brings effort every night, and he does a great job of challenging himself and challenging his team. He’s helping our team get better, and he’s focused on team goals.”
Durant entered Friday needing one more 30-point game to increase his league-leading total to 35, which would tie the single-season franchise mark Spencer Haywood set with the 1972-73 Seattle SuperSonics.
“I’ve been working hard and it’s starting to pay off,” Durant said. “But I’ve got a long way to go to get where I want to be as a player. And if I continue to work hard and keep getting better and better and become a student of the game, then the sky’s the limit for myself and my team.”