Kevin Durant: Russell Westbrook Not a Factor in Free Agency Decision

by July 19, 2016

Kevin Durant continues to insist that his decision to leave OKC for Golden State was based, quite simply, on where he wanted to play ball.

Durant says that his frustrations with former All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook had nothing to do with his choice to join the Warriors.

The ex-Thunder star also addressed his reputation and the criticism he’s received from fans, media and players (current and former.)

Per USA Today:

There was certainly criticism, though, none louder than the dissenting perspective shared by Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller. But as Durant said repeatedly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as he had imagined – not yet anyways. […] “Those are two guys, you know?” he said of Barkley and Miller. “They’ve got a voice in our game, and a lot of people probably felt the same way but they don’t have a voice so obviously what they say is translated through a megaphone so it feels like everybody else (thinks that). If Charles Barkley said it, it must be true. If Reggie Miller says it, it must be true. It just feels like it’s bigger than what it is. But for the most part, I got the support around me. I’ve got the family that supports me no matter what, that love me no matter what I do. I could be playing tennis right now, and I could retire from the game of basketball and they’re still going to love me. If I think about that, I’ll be fine.”

 

As one Warriors person had described it even before Durant came their way, there are no hockey assists with Westbrook – the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the shot. More often than not, he’s either scoring on the possession or assisting. All season long, the Warriors’ intel that Durant had grown frustrated with that aspect of his Thunder experience was the root of their free agency confidence. [….] “Nah, it wasn’t (a factor in him leaving),” Durant said. “I mean obviously (that alleged subplot is) coming out now (that) I’m gone, all these reports are going to come out. I can’t really control it, but I just made a decision based on where I wanted to go, man. It was as simple as that. We can think about all the reasons and the factors and what factored in, but it was simple. That’s where I wanted to play basketball.”

 

Because Westbrook is a free agent next summer, the widely-held belief was that Durant would want to know whether or not his running mate was likely to remain before picking his team. Alas … “No, we didn’t talk about (Westbrook’s free agency future),” said Durant, who had gone to dinner with Westbrook and Thunder forward Nick Collison in the days leading up to free agency. “I mean we didn’t really talk about anything at all. I wish him nothing but the best, man.”

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