Kevin Durant Comments on Leaving Thunder, Lakers, Russell Westbrook

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 18, 2016

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant speaks with reporters after he was introduced during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's practice facility, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)
Beck Diefenbach/Associated Press

Casual basketball fans might call Kevin Durant honest and heartfelt. Look no further than his 2013-14 NBA MVP speech.

Oklahoma City Thunder fans might believe him to be heartless.

After nine seasons of service with the Thunder and zero NBA championships, Durant fled to the Golden State Warriors this summer. As excited as Durant is about bolstering his chances to earn a maiden Larry O'Brien Trophy, he acknowledged how much of an impact his departure from Oklahoma City has had on him.

"I was hurt for a few days because I knew I hurt so many people," Durant said Monday, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver.

Durant was speaking at a Team USA basketball practice as the squad was preparing for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The four-time NBA scoring champion dismissed the notion that Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook's brand of basketball was a factor in his decision to change teams and wished his former teammate well, per the Oklahoman's Anthony Slater:

A source told Slater Westbrook was "ticked off" by Durant's exit and is eager to lead Oklahoma City without him.

Given Westbrook's erratic tendencies—he averaged 4.3 turnovers per game and shot 29.6 percent from three-point range on 341 attempts last season—who knows how the Thunder will turn out with him leading the charge?

Slater logged another excellent quote from Durant as he reflected on his NBA journey:

Durant met with four other teams in addition to the Thunder and Warriors as he decided the next phase of his career, per Turner Sports' David Aldridge. The Los Angeles Lakers weren't among those teams despite their glorious franchise history and burgeoning young core of talent.

"I really respect their team, but I think they're a couple years away from where I want to be," Durant said when asked about the Lakers, per Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.

One can't blame Durant for wanting to win as soon as possible, and Golden State—which is coming off a record 73-win regular season and came within one victory of securing back-to-back championships—represented his best chance of doing so.

Between two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, top-flight 2-guard Klay Thompson, versatile forward Draymond Green and Durant, the Warriors have arguably four of the NBA's top 15 players.

It's hard to imagine Golden State improving on its historic 2015-16 regular season considering the grind of an 82-game schedule and the need to stay fresh for the playoffs. Durant's arrival also means another superstar ego for head coach Steve Kerr to handle and a voluminous scorer who may need a lot of shots per game.

There may be too many cooks in the kitchen for whatever stew of compelling basketball Durant, Chef Curry and the Warriors concoct in the coming years. That was a risk Durant was willing to take, though—and it adds plenty of intrigue as Golden State seeks its third straight NBA Finals berth.