Most people expected Kevin Durant to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason. When he instead ended up signing with the Golden State Warriors, it threw the NBA universe through a loop. There started to be murmurs that Durant had told Russell Westbrook and the Thunder that he would be returning, ones that Durant refuted shortly thereafter. Somebody else who is supporting the assertion that Durant didn’t tell the Thunder he was going to return is Oklahoma City’s head coach Billy Donovan.
Donovan, who is heading into his second season as an NBA head coach after being tremendously successful in college, made an appearance on The Vertical’s podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski and said that Durant was “very, very honest” during the free agency process.
(Thanks to Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk for the transcription)
“I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball. We talked about our team. We talked about direction, talked about obviously his leadership, his role – all those kind of things. And I think, leaving the meeting, it was very, very, I thought, positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides.
And the one thing I think with Kevin was that going through nine years with the organization, he was at a point in time where he was allowed obviously to be this free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting.
So, obviously, I think, being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously, after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind probably changed.”
Donovan seems pretty cool about the whole thing, even though he no longer has one of the best players in the NBA on his team. His time in college, dealing with finicky recruits, probably helps him handle situations like this fairly well. Like he says, maybe Durant wanted to stay with the Thunder, but then he met with the Warriors and that changed. Needless to say, it seems like the rumor that Durant misled the Thunder in some way is thoroughly quashed.