The face of a franchise and video game, Kevin Durant hopes to sign extension with Thunder soon

By Jeff Latzke, AP
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Durant hopes to sign extension with Thunder soon

OKLAHOMA CITY — The cover of EA Sports’ new NBA video game features Kevin Durant on the cover in a white Oklahoma City Thunder jersey.

Durant hopes he’ll soon be signed up to wear that jersey for a long time.

The NBA’s scoring champion from last season will get the opportunity to negotiate an extension with the Thunder on July 1 and he’s looking forward to signing on the dotted line.

“I hope it happens, man. I’m really emphasizing how much I really enjoy playing for the Oklahoma City team and playing for that city,” Durant said in a phone interview Tuesday after the NBA ELITE 11 cover was unveiled.

“Hopefully something gets done. I work hard and hopefully things start to pan out for me. We’ll see what happens on July 1.”

Durant was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft and won the Rookie of the Year award. Last season, he was selected as an All-Star for the first time and averaged 30.1 points to become the youngest player to lead the league in scoring.

He is signed with the Thunder through next season under his original rookie contract, which would pay him about $5 million next year. Oklahoma City, which is well under the salary cap, could offer him more than two times that much — with the actual amount dependent on where the cap is set for next season.

Durant said he’d prefer to have the contract done with soon, but he won’t be hurt if there isn’t an offer waiting for him when negotiations are allowed to open next week.

“I’m not going to be disappointed at all because I like playing the game,” Durant said. “I have the chance to play again the year after that. I won’t be disappointed because I’m still going to play the game of basketball, but I would like to have something done by the end of the season.”

Durant, 21, has continued to build on his stardom by holding a Nike basketball camp alongside the Great Wall of China earlier this month, and he’ll also be playing for the U.S. at the world championships this summer in Turkey. He also visited Hong Kong last offseason.

“I never thought basketball would take me all the way across the world,” Durant said. “It shows how big the game has gotten.”

His latest accomplishment is being picked by EA Sports to be on the cover of the first installment of its new video game, replacing the NBA Live series. Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard were among the players chosen to be on the cover in recent years.

Behind Durant, who finished second in the voting for the NBA’s most improved player last season, the Thunder increased their win total from 23 to 50 before being eliminated by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

“Being on the cover of a video game, it’s big-time,” said Durant, who was previously on the cover of NCAA March Madness 08. “A lot of kids will be able to see who the Thunder are now, because of the video game, so I’m very excited about that.”

Durant said it’s a fitting honor, considering how often he plays the game.

“Not a little bit. A lot,” he said, admitting he knows the cheat codes, too. “When I’m not at the gym, I’m always on the video game. It was an easy decision for me.”

will not be displayed