There have been a lot of rumors that the big-name free agent the Lakers are searching for this summer could end up being Kevin Durant. But when Durant opened up about what it would be like playing with LeBron James to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, he sounded anything like a player who wants to play him:
He began by stating what type of players work with LeBron. Saying Kyle Korver, who is not a number one option, works, but someone who wants the ball in their hands like Kawhi Leonard doesn’t make sense with LeBron:
“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi, trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”
Durant is not quite as young as Leonard, but the message is clear in that quote. Durant doesn’t think a player of that style fits with LeBron, and those are all qualities of his own.
Durant went on to say Kevin Love deserves more credit for how he had to adjust his game. That is correct. But once again Durant sounds as if he wants nothing to do with being on the same team as LeBron:
“Which, I think, he [Love] deserves way more credit for switching his game. Bosh, same way. LeBron is a player that needs to play with guys that already know how they play the game—and shooters. Like, young players that are still developing, it’s always going to be hard because he demands the ball so much, he demands control of the offense and he creates for everybody.”
Does Durant strike you as someone who would want to switch his game?
And most importantly yet, Durant talks about the life of what it would be like playing with LeBron:
“So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people,” Durant said. “He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I’m like, we’re playing basketball here, and it’s not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn’t want to be in that environment because it’s toxic. Especially when the attention is bulls–t attention, fluff. It’s not LeBron’s fault at all; it’s just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball.”
The key here is him saying “it’s toxic.” Now, there is a lot to unload here. First of all, why is he saying this? What does Durant gain from publicly talking about what it would be like playing with LeBron when he never has?
My best guess is he is trying to control the narrative. Durant is so thin-skinned and still clearly bothered by those who question his game because he joined a 73-win team. Everyone wants him to leave, and by doing this it makes it sound as if joining the Lakers with LeBron would be a bad situation for any superstar. Instead of people asking “why couldn’t Durant go prove himself elsewhere with the Lakers,” people will say, “he couldn’t join that toxic situation.” At least he can hope that is what they say.
There is always the possibility he is trying to trick us by thinking he is not going to the Lakers. But at the moment, no positive outcome comes to mind from that.
What may even be a larger story here is the fact the Lakers may be running out of options. The vibe for months has been neither Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard want to come to the Lakers. We know Kyrie Irving is not coming, and today it appears much less likely Durant is going to come. Kemba Walker has been great this season, but he is not the superstar-level player they need. This then leaves Anthony Davis. Can the Lakers make a trade for him this summer?
But would he want to play with LeBron?