Kevin Durant is unlikely to sign with the Wizards this summer because he doesn’t want to deal with the pressure of being surrounded by family, friends and hangers-on from his native Washington, friends of his tell Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Instead, the Warriors and Spurs will be in the mix for him with the Celtics a darkhorse, Mannix writes, reiterating his report from March, when he also cited Golden State, San Antonio and Boston.
Durant’s lack of fondness for the Wizards doesn’t have to do with Scott Brooks, who’s reportedly agreed to become the team’s next coach, as Mannix details, and indeed, Durant made a point of praising the former Thunder coach last week. The one-time MVP has largely been mum over the years about the possibility of joining the Wizards, despite rampant speculation, and he downplayed the idea when asked about it in 2014, as Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman notes.
Still, the Wizards will encourage Brooks to retain assistant coach David Atkins, who was a high school assistant coach for Durant, as TNT’s David Aldridge hears (Twitter link), and they’ll nonetheless make their long-planned effort to sign Durant this summer, according to Mannix. The Warriors instead have appeared to be significant front-runners to land the four-time scoring champ should he decide to leave the Thunder, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in February, though Mannix puts Golden State on equal footing with the Spurs in his latest report. It was widely believed the Celtics would move onto Durant’s radar, Mannix wrote last month, and the latest dispatch from the scribe who also works for CSN New England suggests that Boston would be Durant’s top Eastern Conference choice if he wants to escape the brutal competition atop the Western Conference.
People around the NBA sense that Durant is “very much in play” and that a decent chance exists he’ll leave Oklahoma City, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck said recently, though Durant’s mother this week cited his loyalty to the Thunder, at least in terms of maintaining focus on the playoffs.