Chris Broussard of Fox Sports said Durant has spoken to other players around the NBA about teaming up in the Big Apple, which has planted some seeds of doubt in the Warriors locker room about his rehab process.
I've heard that Durant has talked to players about playing in NY with him. That creates doubt. Players were wondering, 'Are you all in?' You have Iguodala risking injury, Klay, Cousins and Looney injured. Could that earlier doubt rise up? Without question. via @Chris_Broussard https://t.co/K5gYeo01hm
"These are the roots of this doubt: No. 1, I have heard from players in the league that Kevin Durant has talked to players about playing in New York next year with him. Whether or not that's hardcore recruiting—'Hey, I'm going to New York, you want to come with me?'—or whether or not it's lighthearted—'Hey man, what you think about playing in New York next year?'—that's been said to me by a few players.
"If I've heard it, you know the other Warriors players have heard it. That obviously creates doubt."
The Durant-to-New York rumors are nothing new. They've cast a cloud over the entire Warriors season, so much so that Durant lashed out at the media in February about its reporting on the subject.
Durant's potential departure also frayed his relationship with Draymond Green early in the season, leading to a much-publicized altercation for which Green was suspended a game.
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported "irritation grew" within the Warriors locker room when Durant was unavailable for their Game 4 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday. With Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and DeMarcus Cousins each playing through injuries, players "simply didn't understand why [Durant] wasn't there."
Durant returned to practice Sunday and is listed as questionable for Monday's Game 5 in Toronto. Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reported Durant is expected to play.
Thompson told reporters:
"He will be very welcome, I'll say that much. I think it's pretty easy to realize we obviously miss him out there, and he's propelled us to two championships in the last two years. So it would be pretty storybook if he could come back and help us do the same. But injuries are the hardest part of sports. You just got to play through them—not play through them, but manage the injury. It's tough. I mean, I went through it. Kevin's is much more serious than all of ours, and I know how badly he wants to be out there. He's one of the best competitors I've ever been around."
Tensions are high with any team during the NBA Finals, particularly a Warriors bunch that battled through a frustrating regular season to be on the verge of their third straight championship. Add in Durant's prolonged absence, and it's natural that frustrations would start to bubble over.
All will end well if the Warriors wind up coming back from their 3-1 deficit.