It must be the summer of 2016 because Kevin Durant rumors are heating up and the Warriors are once again on the table it seems.
According to reports, the market for Durant is still taking shape. Nothing is set in stone, but the fact that the Warriors were one of the first teams to be rumored tells a lot about their level of interest. People are already talking about how the Warriors could offer one of the best trade packages. Analysts are already speaking their minds on how players like Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, and Jonathan Kuminga aren’t worth trading. So despite most NBA fans wanting to believe KD to the Warriors couldn’t possibly happen again, the groundwork is there. But why would KD ever want to go back to Golden State?
Does he really want to win another championship that badly? Like yeah, that’s a great prize, but Durant already had the opportunity to win more championships with Golden State when he hit free agency after the 2018 season. Yes, he was injured, but he could’ve stayed with the Warriors, and then when he, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson all got healthy again, they could’ve carried on their merry way and won a few more titles. But Durant wanted to prove he could lead a team to a title all on his own. He’s consistently shit-talked the Warriors since leaving, claiming that the Warriors were “never a winning team before [Durant] signed there,” despite the Warriors winning a title and 73 games in back-to-back years before Durant signed there. There were also several reports that KD was jealous of Steph Curry during his time with the Warriors, citing that Golden State fans would always choose Steph over him. Durant never felt like it was his team. KD has since pushed back against that narrative, claiming it to be erroneous and “just the media trying to start something.” However, between statements he’s made since leaving the Warriors and videos all over the internet of him getting into spats with Draymond Green on the court, it’s hard to believe that there isn’t at least some truth in those rumors.
Hell, after the Warriors won the 2022 NBA title, it took Durant a while to congratulate his former team. As Curry hoisted his first-ever NBA Finals MVP trophy, Durant was posting Instagram stories about Drake’s latest album. It took nearly 24 hours for Durant to acknowledge the Warriors’ accomplishment on social media, and when he finally did congratulate them, it was in response to a disgruntled fan claiming that Durant’s legacy was officially dead.
I don’t need to argue about how Durant’s legacy isn’t dead. It clearly isn’t. If it was, the Warriors wouldn’t pay any mind to bringing him back for a second round. He’s still arguably the greatest pure scorer of all time. However, after Steph and company won another title without Durant– proving that the Warriors don’t need Durant as much as he needs them–a move to Golden State would only emphasize the points that Durant had been trying to fight ever since he left the Bay Area.
1) This will always be Steph’s team. It doesn’t matter if Durant came back to score 35 a game and win the second-ever unanimous MVP, the fans and front office will always value Steph over Durant for what Curry was able to do before and after Durant was his teammate.
2) Durant left Golden State to prove he didn’t need them. When Durant first came to the Bay Area, there was an argument that the Warriors needed Durant in order to win. They’d just blown a 3-1 lead to LeBron and the Cavs, and perhaps Durant was the missing piece they needed. That argument doesn’t work this time. The Warriors just ran through the playoffs without even being forced into a Game 7 situation.
Despite Durant’s claims that he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of his legacy, Durant clearly does. He spends a lot of his time scrolling through Twitter arguing with nobodies and/or basketball oldheads trying to justify every decision he’s ever made in his career. Durant’s legacy isn’t dead, but it certainly wouldn’t be helped by a decision to go back to the team that he left in order to prove he didn’t need them. I know this time, Durant’s move would be due to a trade, so Durant won’t have as much a say in his next team as he did in 2016. However, if Durant really didn’t want to go to Golden State, he could just threaten a sit-out if he gets traded there. He’s got the star power and market to do that, and given the hit that his legacy could take with another move to Golden State, that might be his best course of action. In his interview on Draymond Green’s show Chips, KD said that he had no regrets about leaving the Warriors. Returning to the team in any capacity, let alone after they won another championship without him, would beg otherwise.
If Durant wants to be talked about in the same sentence as LeBron or MJ, he can’t join the team that just won its fourth NBA title in eight years. Join the Suns. Join the Bucks. Join anyone except Golden State.