What On Earth is Kevin Durant Thinking? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

What On Earth is Kevin Durant Thinking?

Updated: June 28, 2016


Speculation over what Kevin Durant thinks about free agency derailed from the tracks long ago. It wasn’t only fans in Washington who courted Durant on road trip visits this past season—although D.C. took it furthest, perhaps turning Durant off from his hometown in the process. Each stop—Boston, New York, Los Angeles; even junkets like Denver and Orlando—made it clear who was the apple of their eyes. The angst-fueled clickbait, fodder, politicking, and sometimes, damage control.

It was recently reported that Durant will meet with six teams when this summer’s free agent market opens at midnight on July 1: the Thunder, Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, and Heat. Washington was once presumed to at least be able to get Durant’s ear this summer, maybe casually during a trip home to visit family. Nope. The top free agent is all but shunning his hometown team. The Wizards, meanwhile, wait by the phone just in case, but are soldiering on as if they’ve just received a Dear John letter.

In the context of a disastrous 2015-16, non-playoff season in Washington, one can infer one of two things when it comes to Durant’s free agency: Either the final season under Randy Wittman was even worse and more detrimental than imagined, or it (the highlights, the franchise, the city) never even mattered to KD.

For Durant, it’s a basketball decision, he’s professed. Of course. And if you’ve listened to his well-measured words along the way, it’s also a culture decision. He blossomed in Oklahoma (with a year in Seattle) and has come so close to winning it all (whenever injures haven’t been a factor). Is Durant really done trying to get over the hump with the Thunder under the presumption that the grass somewhere else is most definitely greener? Doubtful.

Durant signing short-term with an even shorter-term opt-out with Oklahoma City has long made sense, even in consideration of having fallen short of a championship up to this point. And it would be rare to find a big name free agent in any NBA era who didn’t like the idea of being courted. And thus, we have the six meetings Durant has agreed to take, with even pandering to the New York market now a potential. (Even Atlanta is trying to kick their hat in the ring.)

He wants to be loved. By the winners (prior two champions to this season in Golden State and San Antonio), by the glamorous markets (Los Angeles, Boston, Miami), and by of course the comfort of his own home-away-from-home in the Middle America. But his actual home in the Mid-Atlantic? Durant’s tea leaves say that Miami (with an aging Dwyane Wade and uncertainty around Chris Bosh), Boston (where coaching is the only budding superstar with which to pair), or Los Angeles (where Chris Paul as PG and Doc Rivers as GM are fading fast) pack more luster over a two-year period than Washington’s solid core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat, and familiar coaches in Scott Brooks and David Adkins.

Should fans around the DMV consider it a slap in the face? Yes, and no. NBA.com’s David Aldridge opines:

“So after two years of painstaking and meticulous planning, the Wizards don’t even merit a meeting with Kevin Durant? Not even a courtesy, ‘I’m not signing there but I’m not gonna diss my hometown’ get together for show? They better have a hell of a Plan B in their back pocket.”

For someone who’s not shy about professing his love for the Redskins, inking the local baseball team’s logo on his body (even if it is more representative of geography than fandom), and sharing how he sometimes took the Metro to Wizards games when he was younger, a lot of seemingly petty things would rank above the opportunity to bring a professional sports championship to a region more starved for one than any other (it could be argued). Including: disenchantment over how local fans treated—celebrated—his impending free agency up until this day; and concern over the locals trying to beg, borrow, and steal away his basketball fortune. These trivial things can’t be that visible on Durant’s radar, can they? (At least John Wall thinks that the fan part “might sway him.”)

Durant doesn’t want to come home right now, or maybe ever. And that’s OK. It doesn’t make shameful Washington’s maneuvering to keep flexibility in this the summer of the free agent. The fear was never not getting a shot at Durant—a baffling feat nonetheless—but rather where the Wizards go without him. The Washington franchise has lacked balance—from coaching hires and locker room leadership, to adding needed veterans versus developing hidden gems, to the inability to build trust with a skeptical fanbase—for too long for many to even consider good moves through a clear lens.

So Durant isn’t thinking about the Wizards, and one now wonders what they think of themselves. Desperate money grab to accelerate competition as the clock continues to tick on Wall (who already has the taste of at least one wasted season in his mouth)? A mission to convey relevancy first and promise second? Wouldn’t everyone like to know. At least until the next time Kevin Durant is a free agent.


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.