- - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OPINION/ANALYSIS:

Did you hear the news?

Kevin Durant is coming home!

Two years from now!

Maybe.

Unless the rampant speculation and search for clues kill us first.

Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champ and D.C. native, made waves Tuesday at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas. All it took was speaking openly and honestly about perhaps joining the Wizards as a free agent in 2016.

Kevin Durant feels tug to return home to Washington after LeBron James‘ decision,” read a headline on Yahoo Sports.

USA Today wondered, “Could Kevin Durant be the next NBA star to head home?”

ESPN noted what Wizards fans hope is a telltale sentiment: “Kevin Durant: LeBron move ‘classy.’”

Bleacher Report put it all together: “Stay or go? Two years out, Kevin Durant is already weighing his options.”

Can we survive 24 months of this? Just another dozen would be excruciating. And we have the easy part here in D.C.; imagine Oklahoma City’s rising angst.

Such conjecture is unavoidable in today’s micro-instant environment. The continuous news cycle demands to be fed and it’s hardly a picky eater.

Junk food is just fine.

It’s not Durant’s fault that folks in D.C. and OKC are getting worked up about something that might or might not happen two summers from now. It’s not his fault that he’s asked to predict his feelings and thoughts in 2016, with no knowledge of events that will transpire before then.

And you can’t blame him for speaking on the unknown. Keeping his mouth shut wouldn’t quell the fire because everyone else is fanning the flames.

“It’s being talked about,” Durant told reporters Tuesday after Team USA’s practice. “Everybody is asking me about it every time I go on Instagram or Twitter. All my friends ask me about it. I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m nave to the fact that people think about that stuff.”

“I tell everybody, ‘Look, I’m here in Oklahoma City. I love it here. Who knows what will happen?’ I will never close the door on anything, but I like where I’m at right now.”

He has found a home in Oklahoma City, which he called “the perfect place for me” in his heart-tugging MVP acceptance speech in May.

More than just an NBA player there, Durant is a community leader and civic treasure, ingraining himself through outreach and charitable acts. When a vicious tornado ripped through a suburb last year, he donated $1 million to the relief effort and led groups through the rubble.

That’s a real-life tragedy, whereas the Wizards’ wreckage prior to last season is figurative. But the prospect of returning home and lifting his childhood team to championship heights has undeniable appeal.

“I grew up watching the Bullets, Wizards,” he said. “I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City, too.”

Many of us have been in that situation, torn between two loves when neither option is bad, having both is impossible and choosing one is burdensome.

Sometimes it’s a person and sometimes it’s a possession. In this case, it’s a place more than it’s a team. Players come and go while coaches are hired and fired. Yet, when it comes to roster evaluation, he sees on-court assets in D.C. that could rival OKC’s core.

John Wall and Bradley Beal would replace Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka as Durant’s partners in a “Big Three.” And the Wizards’ trio would be better positioned to attract reinforcements, as Washington presumably ranks higher than OKC as a destination for free agents.

Wizards fans should spend the next two seasons rooting against the Thunder, hoping it continues to fall short of an NBA title while Westbrook continues to hoist shots and make wild forays to the basket.

Fans also should root for the Cleveland Cavaliers, hoping the team wins a championship and the city showers LeBron with so much love and affection that Durant can’t help envisioning the same scenario in Washington. He can come home and make a difference that extends beyond Verizon Center, just like James desires to have an impact throughout northeast Ohio.

“It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once,” Durant said. “(James) thought about the city where he came from and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that.”

Did you hear that D.C.? Durant is coming!

We won’t know for sure until 2016.

But who’s counting?

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