Reports are that the Warriors checked in on trading for James Harden this offseason, and that shouldn’t be shocking. It was widely known that Harden wanted out of Houston, and part of being an NBA general manager is to explore any and all opportunities to acquire star players, even ones that may not seem like a natural fit.
It also shouldn’t come as a shock that those talks fizzled out quickly. The Warriors still have a core that when healthy is a championship contender, and it’s unclear if adding Harden by shipping off the likes of Draymond Green and/or Klay Thompson and/or James Wiseman would actually be a wise decision.
Perhaps it’s also the case that the feeling was mutual. At least it was according to Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo of The Ringer, who revealed on Wednesday that sources told them that Kevin Durant, who is close with Harden and now his teammate once again after Wednesday’s blockbuster, warned Harden that he might not enjoy playing under Steve Kerr. (H/T to NBC Sports for the transcription)
Simmons: “The sleeping giant of this whole Harden sweepstakes was Golden State. And I don’t think they were in it. But if they had decided to get into it …”
Russillo: “I heard he, um … he was not … he and [Kevin] Durant are close, and Durant wanted him to leave (Houston). So I think there was some communication …”
Simmons: “There was some Steve Kerr stuff.”
Russillo: “Yeah, that you might not want to play for him. Which sounds insane that Durant could complain about anything with Golden State, but it sounds like he did.”
Jackie MacMullan: “Well, but the only complaint that Kevin Durant had about Golden State was he wasn’t Steph Curry, and he never was gonna be Steph Curry in that market. And no matter what he did and how many championships they won, Steph Curry was still the guy.”
Simmons: “The KD-Kerr thing definitely fell apart the last year.”
Durant’s issues with Kerr reportedly stemmed from disagreements about how the offense should be run. It’s unclear exactly what Durant wanted from Kerr’s offense, or if he even knew what he wanted. As reported by Ethan Strauss in his book “The Victory Machine,” Durant and Kerr were often at odds with each other during the tail-end of his final season. This included one instance during the first-round series vs. the Clippers, where Kerr was yelling at Durant from the bench to be more aggressive, and Durant yelled back “that he knew how to play and not to tell him anything.”
What is most likely is that Durant was frustrated in general during that final year in Golden State, and Kerr was the easiest person to take it out on. The two apparently have a good relationship now, and shared a warm embrace after the Warriors’ opening night loss to the Brooklyn Nets.