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Why Kevin Durant picked the Nets as his only choice in free agency

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during their game against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California.  Credit: Getty Images/Ezra Shaw

Kevin Durant never seriously considered coming to the Knicks.

“If I was going to leave the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets,” Durant told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Wednesday. “They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they are building.”

Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, signed a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets on July 1. The announcement was a shocker for many since for much of the past year the Knicks were thought to be the most likely landing spot if Durant left Golden State.

Speaking publicly for the first time since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Toronto, Durant said he didn’t make up his mind that he was leaving the Warriors until June 30. That’s a full 20 days after his injury.

Durant was asked why he decided to leave a team that had made three straight Finals appearances and a had a starting five that could rival any in basketball history for a team that lost in the first round of the playoffs.

“Because I wanted to,” Durant said. “The basketball was appealing.”

Durant, who is joining his good friend Kyrie Irving on the Nets, is expected to miss the 2019-20 season with the Achilles injury. He would not, however, confirm that diagnosis.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Just like I didn’t know I was going to get hurt. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m early in the process. So I’m grinding every day. I’m not even trying to think that far. That’s not going to do me any good. So I just try to focus on what I can control right now, second by second. Who knows? We’ll see.”

In the aftermath of the injury, the Warriors were criticized by some for allowing Durant to come back from a Grade 2 right calf strain that he suffered in Golden State’s second-round series against the Houston Rockets. Durant shot down any notion, however, that the team had mishandled his injury.

“H ell, no. H ow can you blame \[the Warriors\]? Hell, no, ” Durant said. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back . . . Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5. Hell, nah. It just happened. It’s basketball.”

The 2018-19 seasons had been a tumultuous one for the Warriors as it was widely assumed that Durant was going to leave at the end of the season. Durant grew weary of the way the speculation about his future seemed to overshadow the team’s quest for a three-peat. He indicated that there is no bad blood between him and his former Warriors teammates.

“Everybody congratulated me when I went to the Nets,” he said. “Everybody wished me well, and they know that I’m still a phone call away. So, I just happen to play in a different jersey now. Nothing else is going to change.”

Durant, who has been spending the offseason in Southern California, said he would soon be headed to New York to look for a place to live. Even though it will be awhile before he is back on the court, he is clearly excited to be wearing the same jersey as his good friend Irving and trying to create something special.

“We didn’t have to play together. It wasn’t necessary,” he said. “But, we were friends before anything, and we just happened to want to hoop together. But it wasn’t a thing we planned. It just came together.”

In Brooklyn, not Manhattan


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