Kevin Durant On Joining Suns, Time With Nets, Irving, More

The Suns held a press conference on Thursday (YouTube link via ESPN) introducing Kevin Durant, who was acquired last week from the Nets in a four-team blockbuster trade. With several thousand fans in attendance, the superstar forward confirmed that he requested a trade to Phoenix following Kyrie Irving‘s own surprise trade request and the subsequent deal that sent the guard to Dallas.

I was upset that we couldn’t finish (the season),” Durant said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “I thought we had some good momentum. We were finally building a culture that we always wanted. I felt like every game we were building our chemistry, but I didn’t know what was going on with Kyrie and his situation with the organization, so I didn’t really focus on that. I only focused on what we were doing on the court, and it was a blow to our team. It just took away our identity. He was a huge, huge part to what we do. His game, he’s a Hall of Fame player, a great, great player, that can do everything on the floor and we relied on that.

So without him we didn’t have a clear identity. So that was tough for me to stomach. I love playing with those guys throughout the year. I felt like we had dudes that were stepping up and doing stuff that they didn’t do on their previous teams. So I enjoyed everything about it — it was tough not finishing the season, but I just tried to move forward as quickly as I can and try to figure something out for myself, but also still focus on trying to rehab and get back. So it all happened so fast, but I’m glad it worked out this way.”

Durant got emotional discussing his time with Brooklyn, Friedell adds.

It was a lot of ups and downs, but I loved the grind,” Durant said. “And everybody in Brooklyn loved the grind, too, so I built a family over there. They’re going to always be part of my journey. So we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a championship, but I enjoyed the grind. And everybody there, we tried our hardest every day, regardless of what was going on in the media, or what was going on with our teammates.

I get emotional talking about them because that was a special four years in my career, coming off an Achilles (injury). They helped me through a lot, so I don’t have anything (bad to say).”

Here’s more from Durant’s press conference (quotes courtesy of Friedell, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic and Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports):

On the Nets’ “big three” he formed with Irving and James Harden:

We just didn’t get on the court enough. I think when you seen James, Kyrie and myself, it was amazing basketball for (16) games, but in order for you to win a championship and be a great team, you just need more time on the floor. It’s another story about why we didn’t get on the floor together, but we just didn’t get enough time on the floor. And those are Hall of Fame players that I learned a lot from every day. I’m wishing them the best as well. It just didn’t work out.”

On why he wanted to join the Suns in particular:

They experienced a lot the last couple of years. You see the growth of this team. When (head coach) Monty (Williams) took over, when (GM) James (Jones) came in, I saw the culture start to change. The way they played on the floor, the energy that they play with started to change. I always loved playing here in Phoenix. The fans always showed love to just good basketball in general. They always cheered their team on, but they always showed love to the opposing team as well. I knew this would be a great place to play and a great place to continue get better as a player.”

On Durant’s belief that the Suns have enough to bring Phoenix its first NBA championship:

I think we got all the pieces to be successful. We got guys that have experienced what it’s like to play in that final round. We got a champion (Jones) already that’s overseeing us. Monty’s a champion as a coach. So we got guys that been there and that’s half the battle, just knowing what it takes.”

On playing with Devin Booker:

He’s just such a quiet, efficient scorer, and he goes about his business on and off the court in just a mature manner. I wanted to be a part of his journey and see how good he can get from here. He’s just one of those players that I really admire, and people are gonna be doing classes on him once he’s done playing. You can learn so much from watching his game.”

On the support he’s received from Phoenix’s fans:

While I appreciate it, I truly don’t think I deserve all this because I know I’ve done a lot of good things in basketball, but I haven’t done ‘em yet in a Suns jersey. I’m looking forward to doing it. I wanna go out there and do the most as I can and be the best that I can every day for you guys. So I appreciate the warm welcome, but I got more work to do.”

On when he might return to action from his MCL sprain:

I’m going to follow the training staff and go on the schedule they got me on. So hopefully soon after the break.”

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