The landscape of the NBA has officially shifted, with the Warriors being on the forefront of the changes. Kevin Durant publicly announced his decision to leave Golden State and sign with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night. As big as this news is, it’s not that shocking, as Kevin Durant’s free agency was the talk of the NBA throughout the entire 2018-2019 season, with most people speculating that he would soon be donning a different jersey.
Ever since a 121-116 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in November of 2018, the Warriors locker room was put under a microscope. Although the team seemed to eventually get the situation under control as the season progressed, the Kevin Durant and Draymond Green dispute lead many people to speculate that the once harmonious Warriors locker room was beginning to take on some dramatic changes.
San Francisco Chronicle’s Golden State Warrior’s beat writer, Connor Letourneau, joined Larry Kreuger on KNBR 680 Monday morning and confirmed those speculations.
“There was an awkwardness, just an uncomfortable feel every single day in that locker room,” Letourneau said. “I think a lot of it stems from the fact that Durant didn’t feel valued. He didn’t feel like he got the credit he deserves as a two-time finals MVP, arguably the greatest player in the world. And I think that was one of the driving forces in his decision to sign with the Nets.”
Kevin Durant’s pending free agency was a frequent talking point during the season, but Letourneau believes Durant’s decision was made long before he officially announced it.
“It was clear just being around the team. The way he handled everything I think he was pretty confident he would not be coming back to the Warriors. I think he entered training camp in September feeling pretty confident that that would be his last season with the Warriors.
“I think that he was going to play with Kyrie this entire time. Now was it going to be with the [New York] Knicks or was it going to be with the Nets, that was up for debate.”
It’s public knowledge that Durant pays attention to what the media says about him. The Warriors beat writer recalled a situation that backed that up.
“I had an interaction with him and his people back in February when I went on a podcast and I said that ‘if and when Durant leaves, it will be to go play with Kyrie; to follow Kyrie.’ And he took major offense to that, approached me in the locker room about that. And that shows you how much of a sensitive subject it was for him.
“It was 40 minutes into a podcast that is not even a national podcast. He found out about that and confronted me about it. Which shows you just how soft of a spot that was for him.”
Host Mark Willard asked what Durant said to Letourneau.
“He basically just said ‘stop acting like you know my motivations, stop acting like you know what I’m thinking, and what drives me. You don’t know me like that.’”
Durant has forever etched his name into Warriors history, helping win two NBA championships while winning the Finals MVP in both of those series. Consequently, now that Durant has announced he is joining Irving as a Brooklyn Net, it seems evidently clear that there was a lot of truth to all the speculation last season.
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Letourneau on Durant’s decision, listen from the beginning.