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Dirk Nowitzki: Kevin Durant should stay with ‘loaded’ Thunder

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If there’s one NBA superstar who can tout the potential benefits of staying with one team for the long haul, it’s Dirk Nowitzki. And the Dallas Mavericks veteran believes it makes sense for Kevin Durant to remain with the “loaded” Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nowitzki, who is pondering his own NBA future, said the Thunder provides Durant with the best opportunity for success, specifically due to the presence of Russell Westbrook at his side.

“He wants to play to win,” Nowitzki said, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “He’s got a great group of guys there in OKC. They’ve got everything going. They’ve got youth, they’ve got talent, they’ve got athleticism. He’s got a superstar player next to him. They’re loaded where he’s at.”

The Durant Sweepstakes obviously will be one of the bigger, if not the biggest, stories to follow this upcoming NBA offseason. Given that the Thunder superstar’s possible free agency future has been a topic of conversation for years now, the fact that the time has finally arrived will only increase the frenzy as pundits, reporters and analysts — even fellow NBA players — parse Durant’s every word and move in the coming weeks and months.

Prevailing wisdom suggests that Durant will sign a two-year deal with the Thunder this offseason that will allow him to opt-out following the 2016-17 NBA season. Not only would this scenario allow Durant to make one more run at a title with Westbrook, it could also prove to be quite financially lucrative. Durant will become a 10-year player following next season and with the expected increase in the NBA salary cap, it would create an environment where he could sign a much larger deal next year after opting out than he could this offseason.

But that’s not to say the Durant won’t have his fair share of appealing options this summer. Countless teams — not to mention a handful of players — already have hinted upon their desire to lure the 27-year-old to their NBA town.

But the way Nowitzki sees it, why leave simply for the sake of leaving? It’s obviously paid dividends for Nowitzki, why couldn’t it for Durant?