Kevin Durant Announces Decision to Join Golden State Warriors

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured Columnist

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts during the second half of Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Monday, May 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Kevin Durant became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and several title contenders attempted to lure the former MVP. Durant announced his decision Monday morning.

Continue for updates.

Durant Decides to Join Warriors

Monday, July 4

Durant announced his decision Monday morning on the Players' Tribune:

This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life. I understood cognitively that I was facing a crossroads in my evolution as a player and as a man, and that it came with exceptionally difficult choices. What I didn’t truly understand, however, was the range of emotions I would feel during this process.

The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that "Durant will sign a two-year deal with the Warriors at $54.3 million, league sources say, with a player option for Year 2."

Stein reported earlier that "whispers of Durant interest in the Warriors have been circulating around that team for two seasons."

Warriors executive Jerry West and Durant had a phone conversation Saturday, per Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News. ESPN.com's Chris Broussard provided details on the conversation: 

West spoke to Durant from the perspective of an all-time great player who kept falling short of winning an NBA championship. While West won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972, he lost his first 7 trips to the NBA Finals and finished 1-8 in the Finals overall. West, 78, told Durant those losses still eat at him to this day, according to sources.

West also told Durant that playing alongside the Warriors' star trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green would make it much easier on him. West opined that in Oklahoma City, most of Durant's shot attempts are difficult and contested.

Sam Amick of USA Today reported Friday that Durant's meeting with the Warriors had finished and gone "very well." Broussard later reported that Durant was "noncommittal" in the meeting and the Warriors "were unable to get a read on which way he was leaning." Kawakami, citing an NBA source, reported Saturday morning that the "Warriors felt they had good chemistry with [Durant]."

Stein reported on June 30 that Curry, Thompson, Green, head coach Steve Kerr, general manager Bob Myers and owner Joe Lacob would take part in the pitch to Durant.

The New York Daily NewsFrank Isola reported on June 21 "that if Durant doesn't re-sign with the [Thunder], he would prefer to join the Warriors, a team that has reached two straight NBA Finals and could rule the Western Conference for the next five years if Durant goes to the Bay Area." 

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In that same vein, The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reported June 24 that "more than any other rival suitor, the Warriors have Durant's attention." 

According to Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj (via Pro Basketball Talk's Dan Feldman), Warriors players communicated with Durant throughout the season with the hope of landing him when he hit the open market:

Here's the thing that's interesting about Golden State is, their players have been recruiting Kevin Durant all year.

And it goes back to early in the season when the Thunder were struggling. And I don't know that Golden State saw them as a peer. I don't know if they saw them as a threat. They weren't playing great. They were in that mid range in the West, or certainly beyond San Antonio, Golden State.

And [Durant], just like he was hearing from guys in Boston, Washington, different places, he was hearing from guys on the Warriors about, "Hey, you can come help come take the pressure off of [Curry]. We need you." This is when they were running off win after win after win. They had him on their mind. He's been on their mind. And it appealed to him a little. And some of it was, it's text messages. It's a lot of that. But the communication with some of the players in Golden State and Kevin, that's not just starting now.

Now, all of a sudden, they get in the playoffs and they're down 3-1, and nobody's standing at the free-throw line whispering, "You going to come play?" Then it's, "We're getting our ass kicked by you." But it changed in the playoffs. But during the season, it was there.

Celtics Not Giving Up on Durant

Monday, July 4

Despite reports of the Thunder and Warriors being front-runners to land Durant's services, Stein reported that "the [Boston Celtics] still believe that they're in this." BasketballInsiders.com's Alex Kennedy, citing sources, added "that the [Celtics] called [Durant's] camp [Sunday] night in an effort to make strong final impression before his decision."

David Aldridge of NBA.com reported that the Celtics met with Durant on Saturday.

Twitter user @RCH1I1 shared an image taken by Snapchat user Justin Goldman (goldie1998) that was posted to Reddit of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walking with Boston Celtics officials as they headed to a meeting with Durant.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN confirmed with multiple sources that Brady was in fact part of Boston's group to sit down with Durant.

The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach reported earlier that Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder were set to be at the meeting.

Durant's Timeline to Choose Next Team Revealed 

Sunday, July 3

Durant will make his decision on Monday, according to Aldridge.

On Saturday evening, Broussard reported Durant told teams he plans to make his decision "within the next 24 to 36 hours."

Durant's Final Meeting with Thunder Concludes

Sunday, July 3

Stein reported Durant's second meeting with the Thunder in the Hamptons has come to an end.

Aldridge reported the 2013-14 league MVP was expected to "hunker down to decide" after the meeting.

On Saturday, Broussard reported it was unclear if Durant would meet with the Thunder a second time.

Stein reported on June 30 that after the Thunder's initial meeting with Durant on Wednesday, Oklahoma City was "in a strong position as [Durant] readies to meet with five more teams." According to Stein, Durant, agent Rich Kleiman and friend Charlie Bell met with Thunder representatives for five hours.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, citing league sources, has maintained that "the Thunder remain the front-runners to re-sign Durant, likely on a one-plus-one-year deal that will allow Durant to return to free agency in the summer of 2017."

Durant's Meeting with Heat Concludes

Sunday, July 3

Aldridge reported Durant has finished his meeting with the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Clippers Reportedly out of Durant Sweepstakes

Sunday, July 3

According to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, the Clippers have been informed Durant will not be signing with them.

On Friday, Aldridge reported Durant's meeting with the Clippers ended after four hours. 

Broussard, citing multiple sources, reported that Durant was "blown away" by the Clippers' presentation.

Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi of ESPN.com reported Thursday that the Clippers' pitch would center around pairing Durant with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, with the report stating the stars "could also attend" the meeting.

Durant's Agent Reportedly Tried to Lure Horford to Thunder 

Saturday, July 2

Prior to agreeing to terms with the Celtics, Horford was recruited by Kleiman to join Durant on the Thunder, though the decision isn't expected to impact Durant's decision, per Broussard

Spurs Representatives Meet with Durant

Saturday, July 2 

Aldridge reported that Durant and the San Antonio Spurs met on Saturday. Stein noted the presentation was "less than two hours" as the Spurs "like to keep free-agent presentations short."

Wojnarowski reported on Thursday that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, general manager R.C. Buford and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge would be at the meeting with Durant. 

Durant's Friends Comment on His Thought Process

Thursday, June 30

"His decision is 90 percent made," one of Durant's "longtime friends" told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. "It would take an amazing sales pitch to change it."

"It's going to take some sweet-talking to get him to pass up all the money he can get by staying in OKC," a "Durant colleague" told Spears.

Lakers, Wizards Out on Durant?

Wednesday, June 29

Citing a source, Broussard reported Wednesday the Los Angeles Lakers were confident they would secure face time with Durant.

Amick first reported on June 25 that the Lakers, as well as Durant's hometown Washington Wizards, "are not expected to land a meeting" with the four-time scoring champion.

Hawks Hope to Pursue Durant

Tuesday, June 28

The Atlanta Hawks have also reportedly tried to wedge their way into the sweepstakes. According to Stein on Tuesday, the Hawks "have been working to persuade Durant and his representatives to have a face-to-face recruiting meeting after free agency starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday even though their chances appear dim."

Durant Considering Knicks

Saturday, June 25

Amick reported that the New York Knicks "have earned their way onto Durant's radar, having traded for Derrick Rose recently to create quite the combination with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis."

What Durant Brings to the Table

Durant is among the purest scorers the NBA has to offer, and his ability to tickle the twine at efficient rates is nearly unmatched across the Association.

The 27-year-old has shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of the past four seasons, and that's remarkable considering his average shot distance during that span is 14.15 feet, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

The 50-40-90 shooting club member has also developed into one of the game's most complete players during his first nine years in the league.

Last season, Durant averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and five assists, making him the only player in the league to hit those statistical benchmarks throughout the 2015-16 campaign.

What's more is that Durant joined Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek and Michael Jordan as the only players to uphold those averages over the course of a regular season.

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