OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant posted a full page ad in The Oklahoman on Sunday, thanking fans for their support over the years and wishing them well in the future.

“To the fans,” the ad began, “words cannot express what these past seven years as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder have meant to me.  The joys and sorrows, the victories and defeats, have left an indelible mark on me and made me the man I am today. I am honored to have shared these experiences with you, the greatest fans in the world, as well as my teammates, coaches and everybody in the Thunder organization who gave me the opportunity to play the game I love. As I move on to a new chapter in my life and career, I salute you, thank you, and wish you the best of luck in the future. Go Thunder!”

While Durant was lauded for a sincere, heartfelt message, many fans of the Thunder expressed concern over the ad.

“See now that freaks me out a little,” said Chris Baldwin of the blog Thunder Express. “You don’t usually take out one of those ads unless you’re leaving. And with him being a free agent at the end of the season, it does give me pause. Then again, he could just be thanking us in advance of signing a multi-year extension. And the ‘next chapter of his life’ he’s referring to could just mean he’s moving into a new apartment.”

With free agency looming, Durant has been mum on his intentions. But insiders believe the 27-year-old will leave Oklahoma City for a larger market. The full-page ad has added to that speculation.

“Well that pretty much settles it. He’s going,” said one western conference GM, who asked not to be identified. “He couldn’t be any more obvious about it. Heartfelt thank you? Check. Best of luck in the future? Check. Mysteriously articulate and well written? Check. It has all the trappings of a thank you written by an agent to soften the blow of bolting for free agency. My guess is he’s going to D.C., but it would be funny if he went to some shithole like Charlotte.”

Durant, one of the league’s premier players at the prime of his career, has said repeatedly that he loves Oklahoma City and has no desire to leave.  But his refusal to sign an extension coupled with his ominous thank you has some in the organization preparing to move on without him.

“It might be time to start thinking about life after Kevin Durant,” said GM Sam Presti. “I’ve been in denial up until now, but now it seems pretty inevitable that he’s leaving. It’s kind of an insult to put that ad out there now, too, especially since he didn’t even thank me by name. It’s SAM PRESTI, asshole. Don’t come crying to me when you need a letter of recommendation for your next gig.”

Coach Billy Donovan, however, was a little more optimistic about Durant’s future.

“You know when I came here last year I sat down and had a great talk with Kevin,” Donovan said. “We talked about the future and he gave me the impression he wanted to stay. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions based on the ad. Maybe he just wanted to say thank you to the fans. Or maybe he just wanted to see his name in the paper. That can be quite a rush.”

As for Durant, he insisted the ad was nothing more than a thank you to his fans and the organization for seven wonderful years.

“Can’t a guy say thank you?” he asked after practice today. “I don’t see why everybody has to read into everything. Man, the media is so goddam cynical. It makes me sick sometime. I’ll say it one more time: Thank you, fans. Thank you, Thunder. It’s been real, but I’m moving to a more glamorous city with better restaurants. I’m out!  There. Are you going to put a negative spin on that, too?”

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Thunder Fans Concerned By Kevin Durant’s Full Page Thank You Ad

November 10, 2015        
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