Ten-time All-Star Kevin Durant was lost to the Golden State Warriors as early as last November, according to his former teammate Kendrick Perkins.
Perkins, who played with Durant at the Oklahoma City Thunder, said the explosive blow up between the champion small forward and Warriors star Draymond Green in November pushed him towards the door.
The pair had “one of the most intense” moments in the franchise’s recent history, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
With Stephen Curry out injured, and with scores tied, three-time All-Star Green grabbed a rebound and turned it over as time expired, instead of passing to Durant.
Green and Durant had to be separated on the bench by teammates and eventually lost in overtime to the LA Clippers. The argument reportedly went to the locker rooms as well.
It led to a frosty back and forth between Durant and reporters before the now former Warrior said “What happened happened, we just trying to move on and play some basketball”.
But according to Perkins, he couldn’t get over it.
Perkins said the dust up with Green was a huge part of Durant’s decision to go.
“KD never bounced back from the Draymond situation,” he said. “And I think the Warriors had a chance to sign KD, but when that situation occurred — and the Warriors tried to clean it up by suspending Draymond.
“But they suspended Draymond, and then about two months later, the owner comes back out and says that he wants Draymond there for life, right? He wants him there for life.
“It’s hard to say they took (KD) for granted, but I think he felt like it was best for him to leave. And it’s hard to overcome that. There were some harsh words.”
We may never know how big a moment the fight was in sowing the seeds for Durant’s blockbuster move but it certainly seemed to have played a part.
The talk about Durant leaving went into overdrive after the incident, especially when he was selected for the All-Star weekend.
With LeBron James seeking an All-Star companion in LA and Kyrie Irving wanting to shop his name around as part of a powerful duo of his own, the rumours went up a notch.
It appeared as if Irving was winning after a discussion between Durant and the now former Celtics star at the All-Star game was unearthed.
Irving reportedly said “two max slots, it’s time” with the rumoured landing place thought to be the hapless New York Knicks.
In a slap in the face to the Knicks, both Irving and Durant ended up across the bridge in Brooklyn with DeAndre Jordan to instantly turn the Nets into a championship threat.
While Durant, who suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in the NBA Finals and is set to miss most — if not all — of next season, was thought to be close to signing a supermax deal with the Warriors, he turned his back on the deal to head to the east coast.
Durant’s departure has hit the Warriors hard with some calling it the end of the team’s championship era.
But the man meant plenty to the Warriors with Golden State Warriors co-chairman and chief executive Joe Lacob saying as long as he runs the NBA club, Durant’s number 35 jersey would be retired.
Durant won two NBA titles in his first two seasons with Golden State in 2017 and 2018 and helped get the Warriors into last month’s NBA Finals, where they lost to the Toronto Raptors.
Durant missed nine games in the playoffs with a calf injury then played only 12 minutes in game five of the NBA Finals before rupturing his right Achilles tendon.
It should effectively mean Durant’s number will be retired long-term by the club, with Lacob’s team moving to a new $1 billion home arena in San Francisco next season.
“Three years ago, we were thrilled with the arrival of Kevin Durant, a transformative NBA player and one of the best to ever play the game,” Lacob said.
“He provided our fans and franchise with numerous highlights during his stay here — two NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, three trips to the Finals, unparalleled efficiency — and carried himself with class and dignity both on and off the court.”
Lacob also cited Durant winning the NBA’s annual Community Assist Award last year for philanthropic efforts.
— with AFP