Kevin Durant reportedly grew unhappy with Russell Westbrook‘s playing style, contributing to Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.
The frustration might have cut both ways.
Golden State players, led by Draymond Green, recruited Durant all season. That got awkward when Oklahoma City faced the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, especially when Green repeatedly kicked Steven Adams in the groin.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, as transcribed by Ryan Phillips of The Big Lead:
“I know Russell (Westbrook) was bothered by — and some other teammates were too — of, like, there was some knowledge there that Draymond (Green) was in contact with Kevin (Durant) all season long and they’re in a playoff series and I know there was some conversation around the Thunder team of ‘Hey man, this guy kicked Steven Adams in the nuts twice in this series and what are you doing hanging out with this guy? What’s the relationship? We’re trying to beat these guys.’”
I believe Durant was committed to helping the Thunder beat the Warriors in the playoffs. Durant obviously knew free agency was ahead, but he played hard and well throughout the series — though, like his teammates, his production slipped as Oklahoma City dropped the final three games.
But I understand his teammates’ concerns. They can’t get inside Durant’s mind and know his intentions. A cozy relationship with Green can easily be misconstrued — or properly construed! — as a distraction.
Durant opened the door for the questions.
That might have been the best of bad options. It’s unfair to ask Durant to shun a friend because his coworkers object. But the particular issue is how Durant and Green interacted during the conference finals. Many friends have faced each other in the playoffs, and they typically distance themselves during that period.
If Durant kept Green at arm’s length during the conference finals, Durant’s former teammates — while having the right to be upset — probably couldn’t ask for more. If Durant and Green were still outwardly chummy, Westbrook and co. have a more legitimate objection.