The 2015-16 NBA season is about two things. Will LeBron James drag the long (and often) tortured Cleveland fans into a celebratory summer with a NBA Finals crown? And will this be the last we see of Kevin Durant in OKC? The latter is far more intriguing than the former when you are sitting in a bar with your friends arguing about KD and his future, pretending your team has a shot.
To nip things in the bud before a holy war begins, Kevin Durant put the media on blast, as if to say, fall back. I’m not talking to you. My people aren’t talking to you. So don’t think you know what I’m doing because you don’t. That’s the paraphprased version.
This all came to a volcanic pressure point because on Tuesday ESPN’s basketball insider Stephen A. Smith said on his show, First Take, that sources told him that if Kevin Durant doesn’t return to Oklahoma City, his first choice is the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course that caused a ripple effect for two reasons. The Lakers always seem to snag them someone else’s great player (Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal, Rick Fox, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar). But set that aside for one hot minute.
This Lakers team isn’t ready to be contenders.
Even if D’Angelo Russell is Rookie of the Year and even if Jordan Clarkson has a phenomenal second season to add to his pretty good first year, even if Julius Randle is Kentucky Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert remembers how to play at the rim and Lou Williams repeats as Sixth Man of the Year and Byron Scott finds ways to not emasculate Nick Young and Kobe Bryant pushes back his own mortality, even if all that were true, the Lakers still are not contenders. They have talent but they are too young. They are about three years away, if things break on the right side of easy.
So Smith’s comments seemed totally ridiculous and out of left field except for the fact that Smith has relationships inside the league with players, general managers and personnel gurus. What he has to say is listened to.
But, Kevin Durant was offended.
“I don’t talk to Stephen A. Smith at all. Nobody in my family, my friends, they don’t talk to Stephen A. Smith. So he’s lying…I have people who I talk to about everything and I know for a fact they didn’t talk to him so he’s making up stories.”
There’s a distinction to be made between Smith’s sources knowing nothing about Durant’s intentions, (they can be anyone in the NBA with an opinion), and Smith himself, a respected journalist of over 20 years, fabricating a story. When you say a reporter is lying you are saying they are ethically unprofessional. You are saying they are violating their responsibility to deliver facts and the truth. You are saying they are lazy.
Before this brouhaha, Durant went to great lengths to describe his inner circle so there would be no confusion.
“I’ve got two people that I trust with my life, my agent and my manager, who’s my best friend as well. I trust them with my life. So if you hear sources or anything, don’t believe it if it didn’t come from them. I tell them everything. We bounce ideas off each other. We collaborate on a lot of different things. They give me advice, so throughout the year, if you hear sources from anybody, it’s not true, unless you hear it from Charlie Bell, Rich Kleiman or Kevin Durant.”
The intermingling of language is providing the frustration. A “source” is not a friend. A “source” is not a confidant. A “source” is not an advisor. A “source” is simply someone who relayed information and prefers for their name not to be in the press.
As for what is really happening here, it doesn’t bode well for Durant’s psyche that training camp games have yet to start and he is already bitching about what a reporter says about his future. If he wants to end the speculation then tell everyone he’s staying in OKC. But, otherwise his future is going to be debated and discussed and analyzed and put through a meat shredder until July 1. Durant will be the biggest free agent to hit the market since LeBron James in 2010. And we all remember how that went.
photo via Wikimedia.org