We’ve heard a lot about how Kevin Durant’s surprising free agency decision came about. From reports of tension with Russell Westbrook to the legendary meeting with the Warriors that eventually made up his mind, there’s been a ton of coverage on the major event.
But ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne dropped one more interesting nugget about it in a Truehoop piece and it of course involved Westbrook:
In the last week of June, with the free agency signing period looming, Durant meets Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison and assistant coach Royal Ivey at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood. Over steaks, Westbrook, in an effort to lobby Durant to stay in Oklahoma City, asks Durant what he could do differently. The Thunder contingent leaves the restaurant that night with the impression that Durant will return.
A few things stand out here.
First, Westbrook is known for his stubbornness especially on the basketball court. He has been both revered and criticized for his full speed style of play. But it’s worth noting that he was seemingly willing to change that for the chance of continuing to play with Durant. That makes me thing rumors of tension before the decision were at least a bit overblown.
The second notable part of Shelburne’s report is the last line, although it was somewhat known already. The Thunder legitimately believed that Kevin Durant would be back in Oklahoma City as free agency was set to begin. And then all of a sudden he wasn’t.
One can at least understand Russell Westbrook’s frustration with his former teammate’s decision and how it was handled. Durant’s return to OKC is on January 18th.