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Kevin Durant: ‘If I was leaving Warriors, it was always going to be for Nets’

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2019 NBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a wide ranging interview about his past present and future with Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, Kevin Durant revealed that his choice in free agency was between Golden State and Brooklyn. And when it came down to his final decision, it came up Nets.

“If I was leaving the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets. They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they were building.”

In short, he said, “The basketball was appealing.”

Durant told Haynes he made his decision the morning of June 30. He revealed it at 6 p.m. in an Instagam Post.

In his first interview since that decision, the two time Finals MVP, future Hall of Famer, first team All Decade, and newest member of the Brooklyn Nets (still feels funny to say that) also told Haynes he was annoyed about reports that he was headed to the Knicks, a persistent rumor right up to June 30. And he wouldn’t rule out a return this season, noting...

“Obviously, I need to get healthy. But just keep improving my game, mastering every part of my game. What I can do now, I feel like I can make it sharper. That’s always been my goal is to strive toward perfection in my craft.”

Here are some other highlights.

The interview starts with talk about the injury he suffered in Game 5 of the Finals and if he blamed the Warriors management and their medical staff. From: his mom Wanda, to former teammate Andre Iguodala, to bloggers to practically everyone you talked to, everyone pointed fingers at Bob Myers, Steve Kerr, and every person of influence in the Warriors organization. KD quickly dispelled that notion and went on to say:

“I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and [director of sports medicine and performance] Rick [Celebrini] working out every day. Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5. Hell, nah. It just happened. It’s basketball. S--- happens. Nobody was responsible for it. It was just the game. We just need to move on from that s--- because I’m going to be back playing.”

Durant coming to their defense has to feel like a huge relief for the Warriors. Credibility goes a long way and if fans, players, and media believe that your franchise isn't looking out for the best interests of the people that work there, you won't be able to succeed.

One of the big issues Durant dealt with throughout the past season and after his injury was the belief that he would be going to New York as a free agent. It even got to the point where the Knicks slyly included him in a season ticket renewal plan to their fans. If you remember back to February of this year, Durant shot down those rumors, albeit in a more forceful way:

In the Haynes interview, he again expressed annoyance at those rumors before moving on to his new team. Haynes wrote...

For Durant, it was unwarranted, irresponsible chatter that took on a life of its own, with his future largely overshadowing the team’s quest for a three-peat. And it took a toll on the Warriors. The only way Durant knew how to defuse the dialogue was to keep his mouth shut and focus on his craft.

In fact, Knicks swingman Allonzo Trier. who’s been working out with Durant, thought the speculation was over the top, as he told Haynes...

“That was crazy. Everyone was saying that,” Trier said. As it turned out, the Knicks were never a factor.

As for his friendship with Kyrie Irving, KD said it was a factor, but not the deciding one.

“People see friendship as the way guys are teaming up. There’s nothing wrong with people speculating. That’s just what it is, but we’re just good friends no matter what. We didn’t have to play together. It wasn’t necessary. 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.”

We've discussed at great length on this site just how far the franchise has come since they moved to Brooklyn in 2012 to where they are now and hope to be in the future. There have been concerns that the new look Nets will not be as good as the D'Angelo Russell-led version that made the playoffs, but that seems a bit misguided.

With the new pieces and the eventual return of Durant, the ceiling for the team is practically limitless. For a fanbase that has dealt with endless amounts of criticism and jokes since the summer of 2013, having a solid front office that was able to strike gold without having to lose much represents the steal of a lifetime.

Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson, the Nets medical staff, and ownership have managed to repair the reputation of the franchise in just three years and have shown stars, draftees, and former G-Leaguers looking for a fair shot that Brooklyn is home for them.

For those of us who have grown into our jobs and had to move on when better opportunities presented themselves, Durant's description of his move to Golden State resonate:

“It was a life-changing experience. I grew up as a young adult in OKC and then entering my 30s in Golden State was an enlightening experience, getting to play the game and reaching that level with the players of different backgrounds. It was just so much that went into that experience that elevated me mentally, physically and elevated my game. It was a fun time and I appreciate all that we accomplished together.”

As Durant mentioned earlier in the interview, the friends you make along the way stay with you forever and even though you're in a new place, they're still one phone call (or direct message) away.

“Everybody congratulated me when I went to the Nets. 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.”

To close, Durant is still a ways away from returning to the court, but he's making progress. He talked about what he expects going forward:

“I’ll be back playing at a high level. There’s nothing for me to worry about. I just want to keep getting better...

“That’s always been my goal is to strive toward perfection in my craft, and whatever comes with that, I’m cool. It’s the dog days. Just grinding every day. Getting better, getting stronger. It’s a long process.

Everyone's recovery times are different, and if some experts are to be believed, we might be seeing KD back sooner than we think. Durant wouldn’t say either way...

“I don’t know. 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.”

While we wait, let's watch the last time Durant played in Brooklyn.

Durant, who’s been rehabbing in L.A., says he’ll be headed to New York next month to look for some new digs.