Oklahoma City Thunder free agent Kevin Durant announced on The Players Tribune on Monday that he will be joining the Golden State Warriors. Durant, incidentally, played last for the Thunder against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, going down 4-3 to Stephen Curry's Golden State team.
The Washington D.C. native had been the most lucrative free agent on the market and was the centre of attraction, with multiple teams interested in his signature. He met with Golden State, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in a series of meetings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the previous week, in The Hamptons, New York, before coming to his decision.
The 6'8” Durant who plays as a small forward, was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. In his nine years in the NBA, the lanky athlete developed into a top-notch scorer, winning the NBA scoring title four times, the NBA MVP award in 2014 and an Olympic Gold with the USA Basketball team, apart from the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2008.
In his statement on The Players Tribune, Durant said, “The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
The 27-year-old also had affectionate words for the Oklahoma City franchise, saying, “I will miss Oklahoma City, and the role I have had in building this remarkable team. I will forever cherish the relationships within the organization — the friends and teammates that I went to war with on the court for nine years, and all the fans and people of the community. They have always had my back unconditionally, and I cannot be more grateful for what they have meant to my family and to me.”
Durant was the leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder, forming one of the most explosive attacking duos in the league with former teammate Russell Westbrook. During his career with the Thunder, Durant averaged 27.4 points per game, 7 rebounds per game and 3.7 assists per game, with 7 NBA All-Star game appearances to boot.
He led Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals once, in 2012, when they went on to lose to the Miami Heat 4-1. Durant now joins the Golden State Warriors, who just came off two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, including one title and a 73-game winning regular season.
The Warriors already have two-time MVP Stephen Curry, apart from All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in their starting five, and the addition of Durant makes the franchise the strongest offensive franchise in the league.