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LAS VEGAS – When John Wall heard about LeBron James' recent decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he started imagining the wondrous possibilities.

Not for the Cavaliers, of course, but for his Washington Wizards.

Just as the rumblings had grown about how the Wizards were already scheming for the summer of 2016 when Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant becomes a free agent, here was James providing the blueprint for that sort of superstar move.

Durant, who has always professed his love for Oklahoma City but who admitted Tuesday at Team USA training camp that his future is uncertain, grew up 10 miles east of Washington D.C. in Seat Pleasant, Md.

"It's not a bad (idea) at all," Wall told USA TODAY Sports about the idea of Durant eventually adopting James' homecoming strategy. "Two of the best guys in the East going head to head four times a year? It'd be pretty exciting. You just sit back and watch and see what happens, but (the Wizards' Durant-motivated moves) definitely lets him know that we want him around."

This is the way of the NBA world these days, with the carousel of speculation spinning around year after year as each prominent player approaches his free agency. The Durant dialogue may seem premature, but the reality of his situation is that decisions are already being made by the Wizards and plenty of other teams with him in mind. Add in the fact that Durant offered his strong approval for the homecoming narrative that was so widely celebrated in the wake of James' decision, and it's more than enough to officially kickstart the latest superstar subplot.

"I thought it was well thought out, it was classy," Durant said of James' decision. "It's fun to see a guy think about more than just basketball for once, and himself … He thought about the city where he comes from, northeast Ohio and how he could affect so many kids bigger than basketball. I love that.

"So many guys get criticized for making a decision, what's best for them, instead of what's best for everybody else and here was a guy that did that and you've got to respect him. I applauded him. I texted him and told him congratulations on that decision and I was happy for him."

Settings like the one that unfolded inside UNLV's Mendenhall Center are nearly impossible for someone in Durant's position. Avoid the question about your future, and you're hiding something. Be honest – in this case, by admitting that he has no crystal ball – and it feeds the fire.

Still, it was less than three months ago that Durant was telling the world in his MVP speech that Oklahoma City was "the perfect place for me." His words on that memorable May 7 day struck those in attendance as genuine and heartfelt, but they changed nothing of the fact that free agency is an inherently uncertain process. Internal and external forces always come into play, and Durant's case is no different.

The incumbent Thunder officials would no doubt be sleeping easier at night if they had a Larry O'Brien trophy to put inside the team's practice facility as a reminder to Durant that he shouldn't leave. Instead, he'll soon enter his eighth season without a championship to his name and with the residue of five consecutive playoff exits on his resume.

Durant was asked Tuesday if winning it all would make a difference in his 2016 decision, to which he predictably offered an affirmative.

"Two (championship) years straight? That would be cool," Durant said. "It would definitely be tough to (leave then). That's one of those things where you've got a dynasty now. But like I said, I don't want to think too far down the line. I'm trying to focus on today. I love my teammates, my coaches, the front office, the city, but we'll see."

The Russell Westbrook factor will no doubt loom large, as he'll be a free agent in the summer of 2017 and Durant will surely be taking a private pulse on his co-star's level of contentment as he nears his own free agency. The widely-held assumption is that the Los Angeles born and bred Westbrook would be looking to leave, but – as Durant kept reminding the media masses – there's simply no way of knowing at this point because of all the endless circumstances.

The external forces, meanwhile, are applying more pressure all the time. Beyond the calculated preservation of 2016-and-beyond salary cap space and the recent revelation that new Wizards player development assistant David Adkins just so happened to be an old high school coach of Durant's, there's the impactful lead recruiter that's part of this pitch - Wall. Teams have become increasingly savvy at using this loophole in the NBA's rulebook, as players are free to discuss teaming up with fellow players but any involvement of team officials qualifies as tampering.

So Wall – who led the Wizards to their first playoff berth since 2008 last season – discussed his friendship with Durant.

"He's like an older brother to me," Wall said. "He's happy to see the things I'm doing and what I'm doing for the city of DC, especially since that's where he's from. That's a big honor to me and an honor to him, so we enjoy it. We enjoy our conversations. We enjoy hanging out. We have our fun times."

Then Wall broke down the basketball fit, discussing at length how good the Wizards would be with Durant on board.

"To be with one of the top two best players in the league, in my opinion, who can score at will and do whatever he wants (would be great)," Wall said. "You could have a Big Three with me, him and Brad (Beal), and I feel like that's what you need to win a championship now is a Big Three. It'd be great to have him back home."

You know, just like LeBron.

"I grew up watching the Wizards, (the) Bullets-Wizards," Durant said when pressed on the topic by a reporter from the Washington Post. "I grew up taking the train to that arena all the time. I watched Georgetown, I watched the Bullets, I watched the (WNBA's) Mystics, so that whole city is a part of me, is in my blood. Like I said, I love going back home to see my family and stuff and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too."

And all of a sudden, Wall isn't the only one wondering about this possibility anymore.

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