By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant spent about 15 minutes with mostly local reporters today talking about his past and his future during the team’s annual exit interviews session.
As you would expect most of the questions directed at KD today were about his free agency and probably as you would also expect there were very few concrete answers.
There were a couple of clues though.
First he denied a report that came out earlier this year that indicated Durant would go on a nationwide tour of sorts listening to pitches being offered up by various teams.
“I never said that, that’s not who I am,” he told a room packed with reporters and cameras. “Whatever this thing entails I’m ready to take it head-on but I’m not that type of person.”
He also told the media what he’s looking for and what he considers most important and listening to him it almost sounded like he was talking about the team he’s still a member of right now.
“The most important thing for me is the type of people I’m going to be around every single day and if I’m enjoying playing basketball. That’s the thing I really wanna center everything around,” he stressed. “I love my teammates here. I love playing basketball here. That’s what’s most important to me.”
He’s literally grown up with teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and has grown close to everyone in the organization, but still...
“It’s kinda hard to talk to one of my teammates. You know obviously , we’ve been through a lot. We know each other very, very, well. But this is one of those things where I’ve just got to hear from me and hear what I want and talk to myself about what I need and be a little selfish a bit.”
As hard as it is to believe Durant continued to say he honestly, really, truly hasn’t thought very much about this whole free agent thing.
“The questions you guys are asking I really haven’t wrapped my mind around it yet. I haven’t thought about next week or next month or what’s going to happen.”
And all this talk we hear about how it would be best financially for Durant to sign a short term deal now then a new long term deal when the salary cap will be its highest isn’t something Durant says he’s paid any attention to or thought about either.
“It’s too soon, bro,” he said when asked specifically about the one year plan. “I really haven’t thought about that. I’m sure I’ll talk to who I need to talk to to figure out the numbers, but right now I’m still reflecting.”
Reflecting on Game 7 and the opportunities lost in the Western Conference Finals but also of all the improvements made by players throughout the season and by head coach Billy Donovan.
“Everything great takes time and I think (Billy) did a great job. He did a great job of getting everybody locked in every single night. He did a great job for us man. He deserves a lot of credit for where we were a couple days ago.”
Even though Durant wasn’t ready to say he will be here next season or for several seasons beyond he also spoke a lot about the future with his teammates.
“I think the next phase for all of us is what are our decisions going to be this summer? Will we work on our game and come back even better or are we going to be excited about what we did and be complacent or are we going to want more?”
He paused and then added “I know these guys, I know them. They work hard from Steven (Adams) to Dre (Roberson) to Dion (Waiters) they work extremely hard. I have no doubts they’ll all come back better, so that’s definitely a huge part of it. I enjoyed playing with these guys all year. So I have no doubts we’ll all come back a better group.”
“We’ll ALL come back a better group.”
Listening to that it’s hard to believe he’s about to leave town. And then there are all the memories.
Legacy is important too and here in Oklahoma City with the Thunder Durant is the cornerstone and so is Westbrook. KD said he appreciates being “a part of something that started really from nothing.”
That was a main part of the conversation Durant said he had with Thunder GM Sam Presti before sitting down with the media.
“Just the journey we all took together from the ground up. Sam and I were talking about starting in a roller rink (the old practice facility where the first training camp was held) and we made it to the Western Conference Finals year after year, made it to The Finals before,” Durant reflected.
“And the brand Oklahoma City is just so world known now, I think that shows how much the organization put the players first and put basketball first and also this community and this whole atmosphere. We grouped it all into our organization and made it one. That kinda drove us to where we wanted to go.”
And maybe, maybe even probably, it’s driving Durant toward where he wants to stay.
Oklahoma City, “it’s home,” Durant said.