Despite the Warriors recruiting him throughout the season – to the point it reportedly bothered his Thunder teammates – Kevin Durant was widely expected to re-sign with Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison even reportedly left a dinner with Durant on the eve of free agency with the impression Durant would stay.
Did Durant deceive the Thunder in any way?
Donovan, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
I think Kevin on the front end was very, very honest.
When the season ended, he was going to go through this process, and he was going to take a meeting with us obviously first and then he was going to have some other teams he was going to meet with. And I think a little bit later on, after the season ended, they decided to do it out in the Hamptons.
But I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball. We talked about our team. We talked about direction, talked about obviously his leadership, his role – all those kind of things. And I think, leaving the meeting, it was very, very, I thought, positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides.
And the one thing I think with Kevin was that going through nine years with the organization, he was at a point in time where he was allowed obviously to be this free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting.
So, obviously, I think, being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously, after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind probably changed.
Durant looked at ease in his season-ending press conference. Many in Oklahoma City interpreted that as evidence Durant was content there. I saw someone with enough self-confidence to make any decision in free agency he desired.
I don’t know everything Durant said or implied to members of the Thunder organization. But from afar, it seems like there was a lot of wishful thinking in Oklahoma City entering free agency that turned into bitterness toward Durant once he left.
So, I appreciate Donovan’s candor. As a former college coach, his perspective is welcomed. Decommitments happen in a system where a decision can’t become binding until a later date – and I’m not sure Durant ever committed to the Thunder or indicated he would. And if he did, so what? They knew they still had to get past that Warriors meeting.
The organization continues to take the high road publicly, as it should. If Durant lied along the way, I haven’t seen credible evidence – and Donovan is vouching to the contrary.