Exactly six years ago on this day, in a move that would forever define his NBA legacy, Kevin Durant announced his stunning decision to join the Warriors, a team that, months earlier, had defeated his Oklahoma City Thunder in a thrilling, seven-game Western Conference Finals. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, as the old adage goes.
Fast forward to 2022 with Durant, disillusioned by what many would consider a failed experiment in Brooklyn (going into business with volatile All-Star Kyrie Irving was his first mistake), seeking a new home for the third time in his storied—albeit undeniably complicated—NBA career. ESPN senior writer Marc Spears revealed Sunday the Warriors were “interested” in re-acquiring Durant, who led them to a pair of NBA titles, winning Finals MVP in both instances, over his three-year Golden State tenure.
Even for Durant, whose career has seen more detours than a road trip buddy comedy, returning to the team he turned his back on in 2019 would be a wild turn of events. The 33-year-old has pinpointed Miami and Phoenix as his preferred landing spots, though the defending champs arguably have more to offer, boasting Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and former second overall pick James Wiseman as potential trade assets.
Of course, Durant’s departure from Golden State was fueled by the perception that he took the easy way out, committing the mortal sin of ring-chasing by joining a ready-made super team coming off an unprecedented 73-win season. Returning under similar circumstances would do little to change that narrative. Winning the title without Durant this past season was also seen as a source of pride, proving the Warriors didn’t need to cut corners in their pursuit of greatness.
Beat writer Marcus Thompson of The Athletic dismissed the Warriors as a realistic suitor for Durant, citing their lack of draft capital and a rule in the collective bargaining agreement preventing the Nets from acquiring a second player signed to a “Designated Rookie Max” (Wiggins and Ben Simmons both qualify). During his time as a Warrior, Durant wasn’t always in sync with his teammates, particularly Draymond Green, who he frequently butted heads with. Despite this, the locker room would reportedly welcome him back in the “highly unlikely” event of a reunion.
It’s a fascinating hypothetical to ponder in what has already been a compelling career arc for Durant, rife with plot twists and misdirection, though at this point, the KD to Golden State pipe dream is little more than speculation, mere cookout fodder for Warriors fans to chew on while flipping burgers and soaking up rays on America’s 246th birthday.