Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant responded on Thursday to ESPN analyst Jalen Rose’s prediction that he’d leave his current team in 2016 to sign with the Houston Rockets.
In an interview with The Oklahoman, Durant dismissed Rose’s talk of the future and reiterated his focus on the present. “Nah, I'm here for the Thunder [laughs]. I mean, that's all I can say. I'm not thinking far down the line at all. It's about today,” he told the newspaper. “I can’t tell the future. I can’t speak on that. That’s his opinion. I’m just going to keep playing for the Thunder. I love playing here.”
In an appearance on Grantland’s 2013 NBA season preview, Rose stated his belief that Durant’s time in Oklahoma City might soon come to an end. “I’m not saying that he’s bailing on [Oklahoma City] by any means,” Rose told Grantland’s Bill Simmons. “But I think that after he plays out his couple of years on his contract, that he’s going to Houston to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden.” Rose also noted that Durant and Harden -- who played together in Oklahoma City until Harden left to sign with the Rockets -- are close friends off the court.
When asked by Simmons if he really believed that Durant would leave behind Thunder teammate and close friend Russell Westbrook to sign with the Rockets, Rose dropped yet another bold prediction. “I think the second part of that [scenario] is, when Russell Westbrook has the opportunity, he’s going to leave OKC and go with [Minnesota Timberwolves forward] Kevin Love to the Los Angeles Lakers.”
Basketball fans will have to wait a few years to find out if Rose’s predictions will come true. Durant still has a few years left on the five-year, maximum salary contract he signed with the Thunder in 2010, and will be in Oklahoma City until the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, SB Nation notes. Meanwhile, Westbrook’s current deal locks him in as a member of the Thunder until the end of the 2016-17 season.
Still, given the infamous departure of fellow NBA star LeBron James from the small-market Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat in 2010, Durant’s rumored exit from Oklahoma City is well within the realm of possibility.