Warriors

Kevin Durant explains why he got combative with the media last week

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Kevin Durant explains why he got combative with the media last week

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders Tuesday night at 6 p.m. PT, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

The Warriors beat the Pacers in Indiana on Jan. 28.

Earlier that day, Kevin Durant spoke to reporters after shootaround. It was the last time he met with the media until after the Warriors crushed the Spurs on Feb. 6.

That night, he voiced his frustration with the continuing speculation about his future. Where did that come from?

"When you have beat writers that come into practice and the games, you build relationships with these guys in person," Durant explained Monday morning on ESPN's show Get Up! "Just wanted to let them know how I approach the game as a player, knowing that I have to talk to media.

"If I get the opportunity to talk to media, I want to give the fans my perspective about the game, not about business -- stuff that I can't control at this point. So I was just letting them know what I want to talk about when I come into practice or before shootaround or after a game."

In his comments following the win over San Antonio, Durant chose to single out The Athletic's Ethan Strauss -- who published an article the night of Feb. 5, which included passages such as:

Let us be frank, with the caveat that the choice lives inside the head of one guy who can and does change his mind: Insiders around the league think Kevin Durant is leaving the Warriors for the Knicks. Most people within the Warriors either think Durant is leaving or profess not to know one way or the other.

And:

Sources say that Durant believed his besting of LeBron James in the 2017 Finals would get him hailed as the game’s top player, a mantle he’s craved for some time.

Then, the next Finals unfolded in much the same way, with much the same result, all while Warriors fans cheered loudest for the smaller MVP’s baskets.

Durant clearly felt compelled to break his silence because of this article. But why the silence in the first place? The narrative was that he didn't want to answer any potential questions about the Kristaps Porzingis deal and/or Anthony Davis' trade request and/or Kyrie Irving walking back his long-term commitment to the Celtics.

As KD said following the win over San Antonio, he simply "didn't feel like talking the last couple days."

On Monday, the reigning two-time Finals MVP said his message was aimed at local media, not national outlets or reporters who encounter Durant when the Warriors are on the road.

"They're around you every single day, and they see the pattern of who you are as a human and as a basketball player," KD said. "So I just want guys to be truthful, especially if they're gonna walk up to me in the locker room after games and then go behind my back and write stuff like that. At least come talk to me.

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"But it was good to get that off my chest and let everybody know in the building -- if you're covering the team -- what I'm about. And I think everybody understands and we're moving forward from it."

Durant spoke after Golden State victories over the Suns and Heat, and it appears things have calmed down.

But the noise is bound to pick back up again soon.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Bob Myers explains what attracted Warriors to D'Angelo Russell trade

Bob Myers explains what attracted Warriors to D'Angelo Russell trade

The Warriors were about to lose Kevin Durant for nothing in free agency this summer. Then general manager Bob Myers pivoted and pulled out a sign-and-trade to acquire All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets for Durant.

The move caught many by surprise and led to speculation that the Warriors only acquired Russell with the intention of flipping him for other assets.

Myers recently rejected the idea that the Warriors took Russell just to trade him, and this week, he talked to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami about going into his free agency meeting with Durant, and his mindset once KD told him he was leaving Golden State.

"From that point on, the motivation going in and leaving, obviously leaving, I left with a certainty that [Durant] wasn't coming back," Myers said on The TK Show. "Going in, my job, our job as a front office, is to prepare for what if Kevin does come back and what if Kevin doesn't come back. It wasn't necessarily an immediate pivot to D'Angelo.

"It was, 'These are our options if Kevin doesn't come back. What can we do?' And for the people listening, it was simple. Either we do something like we did, which was more aggressive, whether it would have been that or something else, or another formulation of a sign-and-trade or using a huge trade exception, or we stand pat and signing a taxpayer mid-level. Those were the two pivot points. We obviously went the way we did."

Russell isn't the game-changing, Hall of Fame talent that Durant is, but he’s coming off his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, and set career highs in points per game, assists per game, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage last season.

For Myers and the Warriors, there are things to like about what Russell brings to the team.

"The attraction for us was, what's very hard in our business and in any sport is, how do you get a talented, young player?" Myers said. "It's very difficult. How do you do it in my job or the front office? Usually it's through the draft or a trade. And most times you try to trade for a guy that's young and good, you have to give up something that's easier, either a guaranteed high pick or a lottery guaranteed pick, or a good player or a combination of players. It's hard to do.

"We saw an opportunity to do it. That's why we did it. And that's the direction we went in. The other direction would have been not to do that and stay the course and see where that went. But we chose the path, and we're pretty happy with it."

Despite losing Durant, the Warriors were able to replace him with an All-Star-caliber player who’s just 23 years old.

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Russell, Steph Curry and Draymond Green will have to hold down the fort in the Bay until Klay Thompson recovers from his torn ACL. Once the five-time All-Star returns, the Warriors will possess one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA.

That's something Myers and Co. definitely have to feel good about.

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

When Kevin Durant elected to leave the Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets when free agency opened June 30, many criticized the way in which the two-time NBA Finals MVP handled his move from coast to coast. 

Prior to his announcement to join the Nets, Durant had Warriors general manager Bob Myers fly out to New York so he could inform him of his decision in person, He did not, however, wait for Steph Curry's plane to land before word of his move to Brooklyn had leaked out. 

While some have been critical of Durant having a face-to-face with Myers just to tell him he would not be choosing to stay with the Warriors, Myers is glad the meeting/goodbye took place.

"Here's what I wanted," Myers told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on "The TK Show" podcast. "Some people I had seen write that he made me fly all the way out there. I enjoy sitting and looking at you. We had a relationship. I like hearing news. I don't think we do enough of this in life. Look at me and tell me what you're thinking. Good, bad, whatever. Let's do it that way.

"I think our relationship had earned that. So for me, even hearing that he wasn't coming back in person, I'd rather have that all day long. And I appreciated that. Some people will say 'Well, you flew to New York to hear he wasn't coming back?' Absolutely. I'd fly to China to talk to him about what he wants to do. He earned that. He deserves that. I wanted that. It also gave me some closure, as far as to hear somebody, to see their body language and hear their conviction and hear all of it, was better for me than what, a text message or an Instagram announcement or a phone call. I don't want that. So I didn't know it until then."

Myers was grateful Durant wanted to talk with him face-to-face and was fully open about his decision to end his chapter with the Warriors.

"He told me to my face, which I appreciated," Myers continued. "I didn't know before then. I had a sense that it might go the other way. But part of me wanted to allow him ... this was a time, as it is with all the players, they don't owe us anything. This is their moment to be a free agent. He doesn't have to tell me. He didn't even have to say anything then. He could have said 'Tune in, I'll let you know' or he could have done whatever he wanted to do. He's earned that.

"So for me, I was hopeful that I'd get an answer and I did. And that's when he chose to give it, which was his prerogative. So when I got there, we talked about a ton of different things, but obviously, it got to that point and he said he wasn't coming back and I asked him for his thoughts and he told me what they were."

Durant's exit from the Bay closed one of the most historic runs in sports.

Since the 2014 NBA MVP arrived in Oakland, the Warriors nearly were unbeatable, winning two NBA championships before losing a third after Durant ruptured his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL. At full strength with Durant, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors were the greatest collection of talent in NBA history. A runaway freight train that couldn't be stopped once it went into high gear. A unit that had no problem toying with opponents for long stretches due to sheer boredom before turning it on and blowing the other team away.

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Durant will spend the next year rehabbing his Achilles, hoping to make his return to the court in the 2020-21 season, while the Warriors enter the next season unsure of what the future holds. Can Curry, Green and new-addition D'Angelo Russell keep the Warriors alive until Thompson returns from his ACL rehab near the end of the season?

It's a new day in the NBA, but the Warriors and Durant always will have those three historic years.