But that might have overstated Washington’s chances.
Durant isn’t coming to Washington. It has nothing to do with Brooks, who Durant respects and has even missed at various points this season. For all of Brooks’ flaws, Durant knew this: He held everyone accountable, and his track record of player development defined him. Durant and Russell Westbrook became MVP-caliber players under Brooks, while the likes of James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson thrived, too.
Durant isn’t bound for Washington, friends say, because … it’s Washington, it’s home, and, like so many athletes, Durant isn’t all that keen on returning to play in the city in which he grew up. Friends, family – some real, some claiming to be – all come out of the woodwork in those situations, and Durant, who has tightened his inner circle considerably in recent years, isn’t interested in dealing with them. His lone trip to D.C. this season was stressful, league sources told The Vertical, reinforcing to friends that wherever Durant signs next summer, Washington won’t be it.
Durant certainly didn’t look happy for Oklahoma City’s game in Washington, when he called Wizards fans “disrespectful” for cheering him and then got booed. He wouldn’t be alone in not wanting the hassle of playing in his hometown all the time. Most players enjoy it a few times a year but wouldn’t want to do so regularly. If one trip stressed Durant, what would a full season be like?
So, the Wizards are lumped with the Knicks – teams Durant has reportedly already eliminated from consideration before free agency even begins. Washington can still try – what’s the harm? – but this seems done.