Kevin Durant finally has broken his silence. And his words likely will trigger Knicks fans’ pain — and delight Nets fans big time.
“If I was leaving the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets,” Durant told Yahoo Sports in his first comments since his stunning free-agency decision. “They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they were building.”
Durant, who hadn’t spoken to the media since tearing his Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 11, said the year-long speculation that he would leave the Warriors to save the woebegone Knicks was unwarranted. In the end, of course, it never happened. Hours before free agency officially opened June 30, it was reported the 30-year-old future Hall of Famer agreed to a four-year, $164 million max contract with the crosstown Nets.
Asked when he decided on the Nets, Durant said, “June 30. That morning. I never wanted to disrespect the game by putting my focus on the future. It was always about that day, focusing on that day and what was most important that day. And throughout the season, basketball is the No. 1 thing.”
The NBA is looking into whether the Nets as well as other teams committed tampering this offseason, as it was revealed both Durant and Kyrie Irving had agreed to deals with the Nets before free agency officially opened.
“We didn’t have to play together,” Durant said of teaming up with Irving. “It wasn’t necessary. But we were friends before anything, and we just happened to want to hoop together. But it wasn’t a thing we planned. It just came together.”
It’s unclear when Durant will make his debut in Brooklyn, with many projecting he will miss all of next season to recover from the injury that has ruined so many NBA careers.
Durant, like the Nets have so far this summer, offered few hints as to when he could return.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Just like I didn’t know I was going to get hurt. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m early in the process. So I’m grinding every day.”
But Durant vehemently shut down reports that the Warriors were to blame for the Achilles fiasco. Durant tore his right Achilles in the Finals after surprisingly returning from a strained right calf that was expected to keep him out the remainder of the postseason.
“Hell, no. How can you blame [the Warriors]? Hell, no,” Durant told Yahoo. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and [director of sports medicine and performance] Rick [Celebrini] working out every day. Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5.”
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