Before Kevin Durant chose to sign with the Golden State Warriors over the summer, speculation for years tied him to the Washington Wizards, his hometown team and a franchise that had built itself a playoff roster centered around two young stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Durant not only declined the Wizards in free agency, he never even met with them.
The whole process came as a surprise to many fans and media members, but Beal himself said it wasn't surprising at all. The Wizards' star looked back on the KD-to-DC saga after Monday's practice at the Verizon Center, one day before Washington was set to host Durant and his first place Warriors [6:30 p.m. on CSN].
"Me personally, I didn't think he was going to come here. That was just my personal opinion, from the very beginning," Beal explained. "I don't know. I guess, being at home with his family here, he probably has a million family members here, it's probably just like extra stuff on your conscience. Just stuff on his conscience that he doesn't need and a lot of that factored into his decision. It's probably tough to play at home, it probably is. But I don't know, at the end of the day he plays with Golden State. I didn't really view it as they were trying to lure KD by hiring Coach [Scott] Brooks or anything like that. Coach Brooks is one of the best coaches that didn't have a job last year. We took full advantage of it and we love where we're at."
Beal said he paid attention to the Wizards' courtship of Durant in part because he was looking out for himself. Beal earned a five-year, $128 million extension with the Wizards and for years had paid close attention to their salary cap situation.
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"Now I don't because my deal is done. I'm good," he joked.
So, when Beal saw Durant sign with Golden State, he wasn't necessarily surprised that the Wizards were overlooked. But Beal was taken aback by Durant's final decision, to leave Oklahoma City for the Warriors, a team he had just recently lost to in the playoffs.
"I didn't like it because I felt like, as a team they beat you so going back to them was a little weird to me. But it is what it is, he made his decision and at the end of the day nobody can change that. He's comfortable. He's happy, he's a grown man and he can make whatever decision that he wants to. But I don't think it was good," Beal said.
The rumors and speculation tying Durant to the Wizards are no longer, making his return to D.C. on Tuesday night less of an event as it would have been just one year ago. Beal, for one, thinks that is a good thing.
"KD's not with us and I think our fans can finally dead that idea for now," he said.
Durant moved on and so have the Wizards.