Kevin Durant is coming home to Washington DC to join the Washington Wizards next season. This is not breaking news or a #hottake, just a fact. Fans and media have been speculating for years about what Durant will do when his contract with Oklahoma City ends and now we are only a month away from that happening. With apologies to Thunder fans, it is time for Kevin Durant to start fresh in our nation’s capital and this is all according to KD himself.
Let’s go through KD’s end of the season exit interview and hear why he has decided to join the Wizards in the words of Mr. Durant himself.
Kevin, overall, just how would you describe this season with the Thunder?
Durant: “It was a fun one. It was a fun one. It was exciting to be part of this group, fairly new group — new coach, new coaching staff, new players. I thought we did a great job of getting better each and every day, and me as a leader, I’m very proud to be part of such a group that fought for each other every night, sacrificed. They were great teammates throughout the whole season. So it was definitely fun.”
My take: So it was a fun season because you had a new group, new coach, new coaching staff, and new players? Clearly Durant is hinting that it will be fun for him to do the same thing next season, but he cannot do that with OKC, so he will have to leave town. Also, note that he speaks entirely in the past tense.
Kevin, when you make your decision this summer, what are the factors that go into that decision?
Durant: “Just when I sit down and think about it — to be honest, I haven’t put that list together, I guess. Just being around great people, being in a great basketball environment, that’s the two most important things for me. That’s all I really care about. Who I’m going to be doing life with every single day, who I’m going to be playing basketball with every day.”
My take: Durant is not so subtlety telling us he is coming to DC here. First telling us he has not thought about it, “I guess”. He did not have to think about coming home, because it was the only real solution for him. He goes on to say he wants to be around great people. Coincidentally, John Wall won the NBA Cares Community Assist Award this week as well. Sounds like a great person to be around. A great basketball environment? Well, first off a young backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal will help Durant extend the prime of his career through the next five years. The Wizards’ young core also includes Otto Porter and KD’s boy Kelly Oubre. The Wizards will have the cap flexibility to make other moves to bring in other players to mold the team around Durant. DC will be a great basketball environment for KD every single day.
Kevin, in March, there was a report that you were looking to be recruited and courted like LeBron James in free agency the way he was back two years ago, taking multiple visits to cities, listening to pitches. Is that what you want?
Durant: “I never said that. That’s not who I am. Whatever this thing entails, I’m ready to take it head on, but I’m not that type of person. I mean, that’s not really — like I said, the two most important things for me is being around great people and having fun playing basketball. All that other stuff that comes with, being who I am and being in this position, it’s not really what I’m concerned with. So I never said that, obviously. You could say that about any player in this position, but yeah.”
My take: This sounds like a man who knows what he is doing. He does not need to be courted like LeBron since he already knows where he is going. He knows that he will be coming to DC.
The fans here are very loyal, and they’re obviously anticipating your decision. What would be your message to them for respect of what you’re going through and maybe to honor what you’re going through? What would be your message to the fan base?
Durant: “Just know I respect the fans here. I love them. Obviously, it’s something that I’m going to try to take care of with my close family and friends, my tight-knit circle that I have. It’s not like I’m trying to keep anything away. It’s just something that is so important. It’s a huge decision. I want to keep it within the people I trust just to, I guess — just to keep it there, I guess. I don’t know.
I want some time to really decompress and reflect on the season so I can move on with the summer and move on with this whole process.
So it may seem like I’m not talking, I’m not giving information, or whatever, but I’m just really trying to make sure I tie everything up properly and make this thing right. It’s kind of hard explaining that question, answering that question, but you know what I meant.”
My take: Of course Durant respects the OKC fans. He is a great human being and appreciates their support for him over the years. But at this time, he is going to talk with his family and friends only about his decision. Guess where most of them, including his dear mother, live? Right outside of Washington. He is ready to move on with the process, tie everything up in OKC, and move on to a new team.
The idea of a one-year deal had kind of been floated out there. What’s your thought process in terms of a shorter term deal can make you a lot more money down the road?
Durant: “It’s too soon, bro. I really haven’t thought about that. I’m sure I’ll talk to who I need to talk to to figure out the numbers and all that stuff that goes on.
But right now, like I say, I’m still reflecting. I’m still in Game 7 mode right now. I’m still trying to get out of that and just reflect on the year and hanging out with my teammates these next few days while we’re all here in OKC. I think that’s what I’m really focused on right now.
But like I say, after I’ve had a few weeks to really wind down a bit, then I’ll start having those discussions.”
My take: The “bro” in the first sentence says it all. You don’t just drop a “bro” by accident. This answer upsets KD because he knows he will sacrifice some dollars by not staying in OKC. And a “bro” should not be making another bro talk about his personal finances. Another star from DC would say that that was a clown question, bro.
You mentioned your tight-knit circle. Russell Westbrook has obviously got a decision a year from now too. Is he part of the people you’ll talk to about the future?
Durant: “It’s kind of hard to talk to one of my teammates. You know, obviously, we’ve been through a lot. We know each other very, very well, but it’s one of these things where I just — I got to just hear from me and hear what I want and talk to myself about what I need and how I can make this thing work for myself and just try to be a little selfish a bit.
Obviously, I want to ask for advice, but I also want to make a decision that’s best for me. I’m sure at some point me and Russell will sit down and talk, but he’s putting no pressure on me. He’s been just great in this whole thing and just being my friend. I think that’s one thing I needed throughout the whole year, throughout this whole process is just people to be my friend and worry about me as a person.”
My take: Durant has a tough time talking to Westbrook because it is not easy to say goodbye. He also admits he is going to be selfish. This shows he is ready to leave his old teammates and do what is best for him, bar none. No worries though, Rusty will still be his friend, even if when they are not teammates next year.
After all these years with this franchise, as you reflect, what are you most appreciative and thankful for?
Durant: “Just the way we built this from the ground up. Just the journey we all took together from the ground up. Sam and I were talking, and it was like we started in a roller rink, and we made it to Western Conference Finals year after year, made it to The Finals before. We have so many individual accolades that come through here from MVPs to first team All-NBAs to all the stuff that comes through here.
And the brand Oklahoma City is just so world known now, I think that just shows how much organization put the players first and put basketball first, but also put the community and this whole atmosphere. We grouped it all into our organization and made it one, and that kind of drove us to where we wanted to go.
Just knowing that, I think that’s the most — that’s what I’m so proud of and proud to be part of something that started really from something.”
My take: Again, Durant talks in the past tense. He is very proud of his time in OKC but now it’s time to bring some MVPs, first team All-NBAs, and Finals appearances to a city that is already world renowned.
What has Oklahoma City meant to you in your career on and off the court? You kind of spent your whole adult life here in a way.
Durant: “You’re right, I have. It’s home. That’s how it’s been for eight years. The time has flown by. You don’t really know — the time flies when you’re having fun. That’s what I heard, and I think, as time has gone past so quickly, I’ve learned so much about myself, about being here as a basketball player and as a man. I’ve been through a lot of different experiences just in this city, and it’s something I’m always going to remember.”
My take: Durant reflects on his time in Oklahoma City and the good time he has had. That is very normal, especially knowing he has to say goodbye after eight years. He will always remember Oklahoma City, even when he is back in his real home.
Kevin, a lot of speculation that you guys had won the title, it would make your decision pretty pat just to stay. But some other people said, if you won a title, you might think, oh, my job is done. I might try something else. How does the lack of a title so far affect your decision?
Durant: “Berry, you’re going to drive yourself crazy if you listen to everybody, man. You look like you didn’t know what was going on when you asked me that question.
Like I said, the most important thing for me is the type of people I’m going to be around every single day. If I’m enjoying playing basketball, that’s what I’m really — that’s the thing I really want to center everything around. I love my teammates here. I love playing basketball here. So that’s what’s important to me.
Obviously, winning a championship is what we all want to do, but at the same time, you want to be around good people. You want to be in a good environment with a good coach. That’s what’s most important to me.”
My take: Another salty answer from Durant. He is already tired of talking about free agency and just wants to get started building a dynasty in DC. He wants to be in a good environment with a good coach. How about a team that employs your old coach Scotty Brooks and your high school coach as an assistant? That is close to your hometown? Where all of the fans will love you? A team with a pass first, all world point guard and plenty of unselfish role players to let you shoot as much as your heart desires? That sounds like a good environment with a good coach to me.
Well that does it. Kevin Durant cannot say he is leaving Oklahoma City for the Washington Wizards until Free Agency starts on July 1st. But if you read between the lines, it is pretty clear that little Kevin is finally coming home. Get ready DC!
Photo Credit: Grantland