It’s been difficult to get a sense for where Kevin Durant will be playing basketball next season.
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The electric Warriors forward has one of the most unique personalities in the NBA. When he left the Thunder for the Warriors in 2016, it was considered a surprise by some and opened him up to new levels of criticism, while also putting him on the path to two NBA Finals MVPs and back-to-back titles.
In a Bleacher Report piece trying to understand if and why fellow stars are shying away from playing alongside LeBron James, Durant offered enlightening answers not only about James, but perhaps his own priorities.
“So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people,” Durant told the website. “He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I’m like, we’re playing basketball here, and it’s not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn’t want to be in that environment because it’s toxic.
“Especially when the attention is bulls*** attention, fluff. It’s not LeBron’s fault at all; it’s just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball.”
This is not a criticism of James, as much as it is the situation around him. But that does not make it any less damning for those hoping Durant would consider playing alongside James. Durant has been linked to the Lakers, Knicks and Clippers as possible destinations if he decides to opt out, as expected, and leave a ready-made NBA title contender behind.
“It depends on what kind of player you are,” Durant, 30, said when asked about what it would be like to play alongside James. “If you’re Kyle Korver, then it makes sense. Because Kyle Korver in Atlanta was the bulk of the offence, and he’s not a No. 1 option at all, not even close. So his talents benefit more from a guy who can pass and penetrate and get him open.
“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi [Leonard], trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offence, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”
Durant has already grown frustrated with the questions about his future, which are mushrooming with rumours that this will be his last season with Golden State. And that speculation also caused a rift between him and outspoken teammate Draymond Green.
One reason it is believed that Durant would be willing to leave the Warriors is because he’ll never be beloved as much as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Green. He had that adulation with the Thunder, but a team that could not quite get past the Warriors in the postseason.
Is there a team where he could have both? This might be as close as we get to a clue before July’s free agency.