Steve Kerr endorses idea Kevin Durant became restless because he didn’t get credit for besting LeBron James in 2017 Finals

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Kevin Durant dominated the 2017 NBA Finals. In Game 3, he made a go-ahead pull-up 3-pointer over LeBron James and called it “the best moment I ever had.” Durant led the Warriors to the championship and won Finals MVP.

Just two years later, Durant left Golden State for the Nets – an abrupt end to a tenure that rarely deviated from those incredible heights.

What went wrong between Durant and the Warriors?

Golden State coach Steve Kerr and Bill Simmons of The Ringer discussed on the “Book of Basketball 2.0” podcast.


My theory – I’m not sure if I’m right – but I think he thought when he won the title that first year, and he really outdueled LeBron, I think leaving that series, people were like, “Wow, that guy was just better than LeBron in a Finals.” And he thought that was going to be it. He never – them saying, “KD made the right move.” And instead people were like, “F— that guy. We’re still not giving it to you.” And I think I could feel it in him in the interviews, this kind of, “What else do I have to do? I just went toe-to-toe with LeBron James, and I won.”


I think you nailed it. You nailed it. It really came down to, the same reason we got Kevin in the first place was the reason we lost him. He was restless. Maybe he wanted to play a little different style. His first year with us, he was a sponge, and he would ask questions constantly. What about this situation? What do I do here? It was a very different style of play, and he was playing with different players. And so I think he embraced it and he enjoyed it. And that team was unstoppable between the ball movement and the off-ball movement of cutting players, guys who were setting screens for each other. With the isolation brilliance of Kevin, the team was unstoppable.

We were getting great shots every time down the floor, because they were – everybody was so unselfish. And they were so gifted. Klay had some monster games where everybody is concerned with Steph and KD, as they should be. And all of a sudden, Klay’s coming off a weakside pin. We had so many smart players, too – guys like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West, Zaza. Screeners, ball movers, guys who understood how to play.

So, to get back to Kevin, the following year, in 17-18, we lost some of that. And it started to drift. And I felt like Kevin started to drift. And my feeling was he started to get restless, like “This is all there is? We won the title last year. We’re rolling again this year. But whatever it is I’m searching for, I’m still not finding it.”

I definitely left the 2017 NBA Finals suspecting Durant had become the greatest player in the world. Though he had far more help, Durant significantly outplayed LeBron. Durant’s combination of talent, athleticism, basketball intelligence, role and hunger to win his first title intersected so beautifully at that point in his career.

That was always going to be difficult to recreate.

Maybe Durant’s concerns about his place in the game – especially relative to LeBron – further complicated the situation. Durant definitely didn’t receive much public credit for his championship. He was widely criticized for taking the easy route by leaving the Thunder for the already-elite Warriors.

By his second season in Golden State, Durant no longer appeared driven by a title pursuit. That goal almost seemed too easy. Most onlookers certainly treated a Warriors championship as a forgone conclusion. (Golden State did repeat in 2018.) Durant spent time experimenting with his individual game. Now with the Nets, he wants to work even more on his individual skills.

It’s almost as if people spent years judging players by championships then changed the rules on Durant when he took a drastic step to get himself a ring. Not only did he not get the usual acclaim, he got criticized for how he won a title. After that, it’s understandable he found a new focus.

I’m unsure how happy Durant ever was with the Warriors. His tenure started with sullenness and reached real bitterness.

Hopefully, he finds whatever he’s seeking in Brooklyn.

Hawks trade Harkless, second-round pick to Thunder for Vit Krejci


The Atlanta Hawks just saved some money, getting under the luxury tax line. The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a second-round pick for their trouble of taking on a contract.

The Hawks have traded Moe Harkless and a second-round pick to the Thunder for Vit Krejci the teams announced (Shams Charania of The Athletic was first).

This saves Atlanta a little over $3 million, which moves them from above the luxury tax line to $1.3 million below it. While the almighty dollar was the primary motivation in the ATL, the Hawks also pick up a development project. Krejci showed a little promise in his rookie season, appearing in 30 games and averaging 6.2 points plus 3.4 rebounds a night, before having his knee scoped in April.

Krejci was on the bubble of making the team in Oklahoma City, now the Thunder pick up a second-round pick for a guy they might have waived anyway.

Harkless, 29, is on an expiring $4.6 million contract, which fits nicely into the Disabled Player Exception the Thunder were granted for Chet Holmgren’s season-ending foot injury.

The Thunder are expected to waive Harkless and buy him out, making him a free agent. However, they could keep him and see if another trade could net them another second-round pick.

Lonzo Ball says ‘I can’t run’ or jump; Bulls’ Donovan has to plan for extended absence

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
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Officially, Lonzo Ball will be out 4-6 weeks after getting his knee scoped this week.

However, this is his second surgery on his left knee this year — he had meniscus surgery in January, after which he was never able to return to the court — and there are concerns Ball could miss significant time again. And coach Billy Donovan has no choice but to plan for an extended absence.

Ball did a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday and it’s hard to come away from what he said overly optimistic. Rob Schaefer reported on the call for NBC Sports Chicago:

“Literally, I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have, like, no force and I can’t, like, catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said. “I did rehab, it was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”

The symptoms are something Ball said he has never dealt with and have left doctors, in his words, “a little surprised.”

It’s never good when doctors are surprised. Ball said the doctors don’t see anything on the MRI, but there is clearly something wrong, so they are going in and looking to find the issue and fix it.

Ball has been diligent in his recovery work from the start, the problem was pain in his knee. Something was still not right after the first surgery. Whatever it is.

The 4-6 week timeline would have Ball back in early November, but you know they will be overly cautious with him after the past year. Coach Billy Donovan was honest — he has to plan for a season without Ball.

The Bulls need Ball in a deep and challenging East. He brings defense, pushes the pace in transition, and takes care of the rock. Chicago has other players who can do those things individually — Alex Caruso can defend, Coby White pushes in transition, Goran Dragic takes care of the ball — but the Bulls lack one player who can do all those things. At least they lack one until Ball returns.

Whenever that may be.

Deandre Ayton says he hasn’t spoken to coach Williams since Game 7

Phoenix Suns v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four
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In a Game 7 against the Mavericks last May, Suns coach Monty Williams benched center Deandre Ayton, who ended up playing just 17 minutes in an ugly, blowout loss for Phoenix. When asked about it after the game Williams said, “It’s internal.”

Ayton and Williams have not spoken since then, according to Ayton.

Yikes. Remember that includes a summer where the Suns would not offer Ayton a max contract extension so he went out and got one from the Pacers, then the Suns instantly matched it. Ayton did not sound thrilled to be back in Phoenix on Media Day, and he was rather matter-of-fact about dealing with his coach.

It’s what every fan wants to hear — “this is just my job.”

Reporters asked Williams about this and he played it off, saying he hasn’t spoken with a lot of players yet.

It’s just day one of training camp, but there are a lot of red flags around the Suns: owner Robert Sarver being suspended and selling the team, Jae Crowder not in camp waiting to be traded, and now not a lot of communication between the team’s star center and its coach.

Maybe it all amounts to nothing. Maybe the Suns get on the court, Chris Paul looks rejuvenated, Devin Booker looks like Devin Booker, and none of this matters. But what had looked like a stable situation not that long ago now has a lot of red flags flying heading into the season, and that has to concern Suns fans.


Report: Lakers would have traded both first-round picks for Irving, Mitchell

Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
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“If you make that trade, it has to be the right one, you have one shot to do it,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said at media day, pulling back the curtain a little on his thinking of trading two first-round picks. “So we’re being very thoughtful around the decisions on when and how to use draft capital in a way that will improve our roster.”

That tracks with the consistent messaging out of Los Angeles all summer: The Lakers would only trade the only two first-round picks they fully control for the rest of this decade (2027 and 2029) for a deal that made them a contender.

That meant landing Kyrie Irving or Donovan Mitchell, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said on The Hoop Collective Podcast.

“I’ve been told that had the Lakers been able to acquire, Kyrie Irving, or the Lakers been able to acquire Donovan Mitchell, either of those players, the Lakers were willing and able to move both those [first-round] picks to do it.”

The problem for the Lakers is the market price for elite talent has moved beyond two first-round picks. The Jazz got three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) plus the rights to two pick swaps (2026 and 2028) in the Mitchell trade, not to mention three players: Lauri Markkanen (who they will try to trade for another pick), Collin Sexton, and Ochair Agbaji. The price for Kyrie Irving would have been at least as high, if the Nets really wanted to trade him.

The Lakers traded all of their young players and most of their picks to land Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, except for the ones they let walk away (Alex Caruso). Before he was judicious in making trades like he was this offseason, Pelinka made deals that backed him into this corner.

The Lakers likely could use both picks to acquire Buddy Hield and Myles Turner out of Indiana (sending Westbrook back), but that doesn’t make Los Angeles a contender (a playoff team, but not a title threat) and it messes with the plan to have around $30 million in cap space next summer to chase a big name.

The Lakers you see in training camp are the Lakers you get. At least for now.