After his first practice with Team USA on Monday, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant -- Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant! -- said that Russell Westbrook's style was not a reason for him leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer.
"No, no, it wasn't, it wasn't," Durant said, via The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater. "I mean, obviously, coming out now that I'm gone, all these reports are going to come out. I can't really control it. But I just made a decision based on where I wanted to go, man. It's as simple as that. You can think about all the reasons and the factors, what factored in, but it was just simple. This was where I wanted to play basketball."
Kevin Durant said Russell Westbrook's style of play isn't part of what pushed him away pic.twitter.com/eS8jmut6rq— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) July 18, 2016
Durant said he had not spoken to Westbrook, but he's sure he will at some point. He added that, before he left, the two of them never spoke about Westbrook's own future with the team. Westbrook is set to be an unrestricted free agent next July. All Durant wanted to say was that he wishes his former co-star the best.
Essentially, there are two narratives that Durant wanted to shut down:
- He left because he didn't like playing with Westbrook.
- He left because he thought he'd only be playing with Westbrook for one more year.
The first was reported by Bleacher Report's Howard Beck shortly after Durant agreed to sign with Golden State, and the second one was logical speculation based on the fact that Westbrook has not committed to the franchise long-term.
So, should we take Durant at his word here? Eh, kind of -- it doesn't seem like he's outright lying. He has said that he joined the Warriors because he wanted a new challenge and because he was impressed with their meeting. He thinks he'll fit in there, and that doesn't mean he has any negative feelings about Oklahoma City or any of his former teammates. That is all fair.
We'll never know, though, just how much the Thunder's style of play had to do with this exit. Durant chose to go to a team that operates completely differently from what he's been used to in terms of ball movement and player movement. With the Thunder, whether it was under Scott Brooks or Billy Donovan, he often had to make difficult 1-on-1 plays or watch Westbrook do the same. Who's to stay he wouldn't have stayed if they had run a more Warriors-like offense?
Unfortunately for Oklahoma City fans, this is all moot now. Everybody might as well just accept what Durant is saying at face value.