Serge Ibaka confident Kevin Durant will return to Thunder

After a playoff stretch in which the Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the doorstep of the NBA Finals, forward Serge Ibaka is fully confident All-Star Kevin Durant—who is a free agent this summer—will return to the franchise.

From ESPN’s Royce Young:

After first beating the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the opening round, the Thunder took down the San Antonio Spurs in six games and then held an impressive 3-1 series lead over the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. A three-game collapse to close out the series robbed Oklahoma City of an opportunity to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

Durant now enters the offseason as the biggest prize of the summer.

He could choose to leave Oklahoma City for a number of potential suitors, but many are expecting him to return to the Thunder.

ESPN’s Marc Stein opined on Tuesday—less than 24 hours after Oklahoma City’s loss in Game 7—that the most likely scenario is still Durant coming back to the Thunder on a short deal.

“Most of the league’s best-placed observers on the subject continue to see Durant’s most probable choice as staying in OKC for the short term,” Stein wrote. “That would mean signing a two-year deal with a player option after Year 1 that allows him to return to free agency in July 2017 … alongside Russell Westbrook.”

The summer is still young, but Durant’s best chance to win now and cash-in later is probably staying in Oklahoma City. Signing a short deal with the Thunder would give him one or two more shots at bringing a title to Oklahoma City alongside the franchise’s young and talented roster, while also setting him up to take full advantage once the NBA’s salary cap structure evolves in upcoming years.

According to Young, Durant considers Oklahoma City home:

The Durant storyline is going to dominate the NBA’s offseason. Will he stay in Oklahoma City and gear up for future battles against the Spurs and Warriors in the West? Or will he take the LeBron James path and leave his first franchise after another heart-breaking playoff exit?

Many observers—including Ibaka, one of his most important teammates—believe he’ll return to Thunder.

Zach Kruse

About Zach Kruse

Zach is the associate editor at The Sports Daily. He also covers the NFL for Bleacher Report and CheeseheadTV.