Yesterday, we went over the news, originally reported by ESPN’s Royce Young, that Russell Westbrook was reportedly “angry and hurt” that Kevin Durant did not call him about his decision to leave OKC for Golden State. We also covered what Westbrook and the Thunder should think about doing next.
On the ESPN Truehoop podcast, Brian Windhorst, Kevin Pelton, and Royce Young followed up on Young’s original story, and Young elaborated even more on why Westbrook would feel betrayed. PBT transcribed:
Three weeks ago, Kevin Durant’s sitting there at dinner, telling him “Hey, I’m coming back, man. Don’t worry about it.” And now, Russell Westbrook has been kind of thrown into this in having to decide his future a summer earlier than expected. […] Kevin Durant, more so than even that, was telling people, “Hey, yeah, I mean I’m coming back.” Like I said in there, a week before Kevin Durant sat down in the Hamptons, he was in Oklahoma City ready to make an offer on a multi-million-dollar house. So, the guy was pretty serious about coming back, and then things turned rather quickly for him to leave. And there’s no doubt that the organization felt a little bit burned by this.
First, it’s important to note that podcasts are different than written pieces. Speaking extemporaneously, it is possible that words come out a little less precisely than when you have the luxury of the editing process. However, it does sound like, whether directly or indirectly, Young believes Durant indicated to Westbrook and others that he was returning.
Be that as it may, Durant was certainly entitled to change his mind. He’s joining a team that is as good on paper as any in recent memory, and will be in a larger metropolitan area where he will be far less of a focal point in that society’s consciousness. Given his low-key personality, it’s easy to see why that would be appealing to him.
Nevertheless, it’s also easy to empathize with Russell Westbrook. He and Durant played together, through peaks and valleys, for eight seasons. While even a quick phone call would have been difficult for Durant, it would have been the right thing to do.