Kevin Durant isn’t worried about LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency next summer.
Because he doesn’t think it’s going to happen.
In the second part of his appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Durant not only said he thinks James will stick in Cleveland, but that he’s told this to the four-time MVP. Here’s the excerpt, courtesy of Uproxx’s Robby Kalland:
Durant: I personally always said he was staying. I told him this. That’s me. I feel like he’s going to end it in Cleveland. That’s his crib now. He run it and he gonna turn it into something mega when he’s done. He’s going to do something.
Simmons: What do you want to bet on this? I’m saying L.A.
Durant: I’ll bet Fat Sal’s.
Simmons: I’m in. I’m betting L.A.
Durant: You’re staying on L.A.? Fat Sal’s combo meal. He’s staying in Cleveland. I’ve got him staying in Cleveland.
Simmons: I think the Lakers thing makes a lot of sense.
During the podcast, Durant also said that he thinks the Cavaliers will ultimately flip the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round pick they acquired as part of the Kyrie Irving trade. This sentiment, while innocuous, drives home his belief that James isn’t going anywhere. Cleveland doesn’t deal that selection without an ironclad commitment from James beyond this season and next year. It was the primary draw in the package ultimately accepted for the All-Star point guard.
Any possible trade, like James’ decision, won’t take place until next summer at the earliest. Trying to dangle the Nets selection for, say, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon, or Josh Jackson and Eric Bledsoe, helps the Cavaliers this season, but the move, assuming it’s possible, borders on useless to their future if James hasn’t signed on the dotted line. They need to prepare for his departure, however likely or unlikely it actually is.
So, is Durant right? Who the heck knows. But if James does re-sign in Cleveland, definitely look for that Nets pick to be dangled in all different kinds of deals immediately after he puts pen to paper.