Warriors

Kevin Durant accused reporter of trying to 'rile up' Steph Curry fans

Kevin Durant accused reporter of trying to 'rile up' Steph Curry fans

After three seasons with the Warriors, Kevin Durant last summer chose to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

Over the last nine months or so, we have heard a bunch of theories and/or explanations as to why he decided to leave.

And on Tuesday morning, another story came to light.

This excerpt from Ethan Strauss' new book, "The Victory Machine," details an exchange between Durant and Strauss on Jan. 5, 2019:

I tried to make a few points, saying I didn’t begrudge him for having leverage with his contract, and insisted that I had good reason to write what I wrote. KD wasn’t impressed and accused me of trying to “rile up Steph’s fans.”

He expressed that this was a constant theme in the Bay. All of us local guys just wanted to kiss Steph’s a-- at his expense. This was KD’s consistent lament. He would frequently squabble in direct-message conversations with the Warriors fans of Twitter, frequently accusing them of favoring Steph at his expense.

In one such exchange that foreshadowed things to come, he was asked by the WarriorsWorld account whether two-time MVP Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving was the better player. “I gotta really sit down and analyze it,” Durant demurred.

There's a lot to unpack here, but let's start with looking at what Strauss wrote that got the two-time NBA Finals MVP upset.

On Jan. 3, the Warriors blew a 20-point second-half lead and ultimately lost to the Houston Rockets in overtime after James Harden drilled a ridiculously tough 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining.

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It was a weird second half for KD -- who went nearly seven minutes between shot attempts in the third quarter before becoming extremely aggressive down the stretch in the fourth quarter:

Strauss' postgame article -- which had the headline, "Can the Warriors win and keep Kevin Durant happy at the same time?" -- included the following:

It often appears that many of these plays are called to make Durant happier, much as nobody with the Warriors would admit that Durant must be made happy at the occasional cost of efficient play.

This isn’t about blame so much as it is about admitting reality as we can see it in the dog days of winter. The Warriors are not performing up to expectations and have much concern about placating their two-time Finals MVP, who happens to be a free agent (again) this summer.

This anxiety has downstream effects, likely influencing the degree to which Curry has the reins on offense. Curry is less of a squeaky wheel and is locked up long term, so he lives with the role reduction.

Right now, even after a statistically impressive offensive performance, the Warriors look less like a team devoted to making the right play than a team worried about angering the wrong player.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why this bothered KD.

[RELATED: Swaggy P admits Durant would let the media get to him]

Furthermore -- as it relates to Durant's "consistent lament" -- Marc Spears of The Undefeated reported on June 30: "There was always the sense that the 10-time All-Star felt like a distant second fiddle to Stephen Curry."

Did KD expect to immediately become as revered as the guy who had spent his entire career with the Warriors, and who brought the franchise its first NBA title in 40 years? If so, that simply wasn't going to happen.

And lastly -- KD absolutely is entitled to believe that Kyrie is a better player than Steph (or perhaps just as good). That's his very close friend. But he had to have known how that take would sit with Warriors fans. Come on now.

Picking Kyrie over Steph is a surefire way to remain a distant second fiddle.

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How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

While the NBA is inching closer to resuming the 2019-20 season, Europe's top basketball league decided not to pursue the same avenue.

The EuroLeague announced Monday that it was canceling the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Each EuroLeague team had played 28 of their 34 regular-season games.

Ordinarily, the EuroLeague ending its season wouldn't be news for the Warriors and their fans. But 2020 has been a completely different year for the Warriors. Mired in a 15-50 season, Golden State will have a top-five pick in this year's NBA draft.

That means 19-year-old Israeli prospect Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, is on the Warriors' radar. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reported at the end of April that the Warriors have traveled to Europe to take a look at Avdija, who could be a top-five draft pick.

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With the Warriors missing the playoffs this season, the team was going to use the unexpected free time in May to go scout prospects in Europe. Coach Steve Kerr reportedly was supposed to go watch Killian Hayes and Théo Maledon, while Kent Lacob, director of team development, was going to scout Avdija. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the Warriors to cancel those travel plans.

Due to travel restrictions, the Warriors likely wouldn't have been able to send anyone to watch Avdija play in the final six EuroLeague games had they been held, but they could have at least gotten more film on him. Now, they will have to form their opinion of Avdija with the in-person scouting they've already done and the film they have on hand.

In 21 games this season against Israel Basketball Super League competition, Avdija averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 26.6 minutes.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 7.0]

Avdija hasn't seen as much playing time in the EuroLeague, so his numbers aren't great. In 26 games against better competition, he's averaging 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.2 minutes.

We don't know when the NBA will hold the 2020 draft, but if the Warriors select Avdija, we'll know they saw enough of him before the coronavirus put a stop to basketball around the world.

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Sunday’s “The Match,” featuring a showdown between NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with PGA icons Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods was a smashing success. The event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief in the United States, and was the highest-rated golf event in cable television history.

The access and humorous trash talk throughout has led many to speculate as to which duo from sports could be part of the next iteration of the event. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd discussed this on Monday and posed some interesting potential pairings.

"Michael has always let it be known that he's pretty good at golf," Cowherd said. "Steph is easily the best current NBA golfer, that I would pay to see."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Steph Curry tweeted Sunday that he’d like to be included next time around, and sure enough Cowherd first mentioned a duel between the Warriors star and another NBA icon with North Carolina roots in Michael Jordan. MJ was shown to play golf frequently throughout his NBA career during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” and continues to be a fan of the sport.

Curry is an avid golf fan and was glued to his television Sunday during “The Match.” He’s played in some professional golf events in the past, and always is among the best current athletes at the celebrity-laden American Century Championship each summer in Lake Tahoe.

Given MJ’s propensity to trash talk during his historic NBA career, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be trading barbs constantly with Curry. Steph’s confidence never has been in question and he likely would have plenty of fun going back and forth with Jordan.

[RELATED: Who Warriors fans think Steph Curry should team up with in 'The Match']

Throwing a couple PGA pros in, especially two who are avid NBA fans could make for some great conversation. As we saw throughout Sunday’s foursome, Mickelson and Woods were more than willing to engage and dish out some one-liners.

MJ likely wouldn’t be thrilled about being mic’d up for an entire round with no editorial control. But if both parties would be willing, this would be the most highly-anticipated event in the history of golf.

Plus we finally could settle that pesky debate of which team was more dominant between Curry’s 2016-17 Warriors and Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls.