Kevin Durant says Suns have 'all the pieces,' then explains why Nets didn't work out
Kevin Durant made his first appearance with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, though it will be a longer wait before he actually makes his on-court debut.
In an introductory news conference with the Suns, which was absolutely packed with fans, Durant said what everyone wanted to hear: The Suns — with Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, head coach Monty Williams, general manager James Jones and more — have what it takes to win a championship.
Durant's response (video above):
"I think we've got all the pieces to be successful. We've got guys that experienced what it's like to play in that final round. We got a champion [Jones] already that's overseeing us. Monty is a champion as a coach.
"So we've got guys that been there, and that's half the battle, just knowing what it takes. We've got guys that can do pretty much everything on the floor, so we've got to put it together and I'm looking forward to going to work."
The Suns' acquisition of Durant, which came at the cost of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four unprotected first-round draft picks and a pick swap, immediately moved the team from +1800 to win a title this year to +450.
Enthusiasm for the team is high, though Durant remains out for the time being with a right MCL sprain. When asked when he'll make his Suns debut, Durant said "I don't know, but hopefully soon after the [All-Star break]."
Of course, enthusiasm was also high when Durant and Kyrie Irving joined forces on the Brooklyn Nets, and became even higher when James Harden came aboard. The end result was one playoff series win, a sequence of ugly divorces, a fired head coach and an annual sideshow engulfing coverage of the team.
Questions about the Nets were unavoidable, but that didn't stop Suns fans from booing a reporter when he asked how Durant would sum up his time in Brooklyn:
Kevin Durant is asked how he would sum up his time in Brooklyn, which is met with boos from Suns fans.
An emotional Durant: "I built a family over there. They're always going to be a part of my journey...I love those guys." pic.twitter.com/ZJY5CgYlXi
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 16, 2023
"It was a lot of ups and downs, but I loved the grind. Everyone in Brooklyn loved the grind too, so I built a family over there. They always gonna be a part of my journey. We didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a championship, but I enjoyed the grind. Everybody there, we tried our hardest every day regardless of what was going on in the media, what was going on with our teammates. Everybody who was in that gym, we grinded.
"So I love those guys. I get emotional talking about it because that was a special four years of my career coming off an Achilles. They helped me through a lot. It was terrible how some stuff went down, but at the end of the day I love the grind and we all loved the grind in Brooklyn. I wish them the best going forward, they got a bright future."
Durant was also asked the natural question of his thoughts on Irving's trade request, which came after the All-Star point guard's relationship with the team eroded after extended controversies over his refusal to get vaccinated and his sharing of an antisemitic documentary on social media.
Both controversies saw Irving miss several games. Durant was diplomatic in his response:
“Yeah, I was upset that we couldn’t finish. I thought we had some good momentum. We were finally building the culture that we always wanted. I felt like every game we were building our chemistry, but I didn’t know what was going on with Kyrie and his situation with the organization. I didn't really focus on that, I only focused on what we were doing on the court. It was a blow to our team. It just took away our identity. He was a huge, huge part of what we do."
The Suns probably have good reason to expect less chaos with their organization, but there will be no less urgency to win now that the team has gone all-in on a core that features the 34-year-old Durant and 37-year-old Paul.