Kevin Durant, as ever, laid out his feelings for all the world to see during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.”
In an interview that touched on a number of subjects, the former MVP made two notable revelations: (1) His expletive-laden argument with Draymond Green last season played a role in his exit from the Golden State Warriors, and (2) he has no intention of playing for the Brooklyn Nets this season as his rehab from a ruptured right Achilles continues.
Green and Durant got into a heated debate when the former failed to hand the final possession over to the latter in an eventual loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last season. The exchange reportedly spilled over into the locker room, where Green repeatedly called Durant a “bitch,” questioned his commitment to the team and told Durant the Warriors did not need him. The two players downplayed the incident publicly, but clearly the sentiment stuck with Durant.
“Your teammate talk to you that way, you think about it a bit,” Durant told the “First Take” panel when asked on Thursday if the argument contributed to his free-agency departure this past summer. “We talked about it, but definitely [it played a role], for sure. I’m not going to lie about it.”
"Definitely. For sure. I'm not gonna lie about it."— ESPN (@espn) October 31, 2019
–Kevin Durant on if his heated exchange with Draymond Green was a factor in his decision to leave the Warriors
(via @firsttake) pic.twitter.com/luuS6Fd22C
Durant said he wished his disagreement with Green never happened, especially because he believes it amplified the media attention paid to his impending free agency and personal disposition throughout the season. Durant seems to be criticizing the media for speculating that his future may have been at odds with the Warriors, even as he confirms it.
That is not exactly how he sees it.
“I just felt like I needed a switch,” Durant added on “First Take.” “I felt like a lot of stuff in Golden State had reared its head, and I felt like that was going to be the end for that group no matter what. Shaun Livingston was retiring, Andre Iguodala was getting older, our contracts were going to stifle the team and put us in a hole to get other players, so it was time for all of us to kind of separate.”
This sounds a little like revisionist history. Livingston spent the summer contemplating retirement, and Iguodala was getting older when he re-signed with the Warriors on what was ultimately a one-year deal in the summer of 2018. It is hard to believe management was the crux of the issue, considering Golden State’s deep-pocketed owners were willing to give Durant a bigger contract than he got in Brooklyn, and the front office had consistently proven it could surround Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green with enough talent to contend in five straight trips to the Finals.
Regardless, Durant left, and reality is setting in for Green that the Warriors can no longer contend for a title without Durant, particularly with Thompson nursing an ACL injury and Stephen Curry also now dealing with a broken left hand. As for whether the Nets can win with Durant, it does not appear they will get to find out this season.
“I’m not thinking about it right now, just rehabbing every day. It’s a slow process, so I’m grinding,” Durant told “First Take” before being pressed on whether he is holding out hope for a return in 2019-20. Asked directly by Stephen A. Smith if he has completely ruled out the possibility of playing this season, Durant added, “Yes. I don’t plan on [playing].”
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