On Monday, Kevin Durant drastically altered the landscape of the NBA.
The superstar forward announced he will be joining the Golden State Warriors on a two–year, $54.3 million deal. The contract will have a player option in the second year, meaning Durant can become an unrestricted free agent again next summer when the salary cap increases to $107 million.
Sources close to Durant said that the former MVP was legitimately torn about his decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors. The Boston Celtics also intrigued him, especially after the team secured a commitment from former Atlanta Hawks All-Star Al Horford over the weekend.
But now, all that matters is that Durant joins fellow All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in an attempt to build a dynasty in the Bay Area. The 73-win Warriors look scarier than ever, with a star-studded attack and the NBA’s last three Most Valuable Player trophies coming from their locker room.
Sports Illustrated spoke with Durant's new teammate, Draymond Green, to discuss KD's decision, how he recruited the former MVP, his expectations for next season and much more.
Editor's note: Alex Kennedy is a Sports Illustrated contributor and the managing editor of Basketball Insiders.
Alex Kennedy: What was your initial reaction when you heard the news? How did you find out?
Draymond Green: “Initially, I was in bed and then Charlie [Bell]—Kevin’s business manager and best friend—texted me. When he texted me, I jumped up. But he didn’t say, ‘Yo, we’re coming there’ or ‘KD is coming.’ He just said, ‘Let’s get it.’ It was something like that, so I’m thinking, ‘Okay, he’s joking with me.’ And then it hit the waves and Twitter and I saw it come through on Bleacher Report app. Then, I jumped out of bed and paced back and forth. I’m in a hotel room in Michigan, just pacing for 15 to 20 minutes.
“I’m so excited. I think this is definitely one of the biggest moves in NBA history. And I say that because I think [Kevin] is one of the best players in NBA history. I’m excited, and I’m excited for KD. He has put himself in the position where he’s done everything he can do. He deserves the right to make his own decision and do what makes him happiest. At the end of the day, he has worked in this league for nine years and he gave OKC nine tremendous years that he’s thankful for and that they’re thankful for. But there comes a time in life where everyone deserves to make a decision that they think is right for them. And I’m happy that he’s able to do that, and that I’m a part of the team that he chose.”
AK: You aren’t just part of the team, you’ve been a main recruiter over the last year. You’ve had a lot of conversations and text message exchanges. What were you telling him and what was your pitch?
Green: “I mean, I was really just telling him about the fun we have together—the fun that this team has and how he would be welcome here with open arms. And it’s not about ‘I’ with us on this team. It’s all about ‘we’ and winning championships. He fits that mold perfectly because that’s who he is. It doesn’t take him changing his whole game or changing his personality to come join us. He’s just going to be Kevin.”
AK: That was my next question. Some guys may not have been willing to do this, either because of their ego or their style of play. How perfect is this fit on and off the court?
Green: “I think it’s a great fit. The way we play defense, he can play defense that way. On the offensive end, he shoots the ball just as well as anyone in the NBA. I think one thing that he really adds to us is that he’s a guy who can get a bucket at any time, in any way. When you’re talking about guys who can score from every area on the floor, you’re talking about Kevin Durant. But the thing that I’m most excited about is the defensive end—the length that he adds to our defense. I just keep thinking of how incredible that’s going to be.”
AK: Every member of your ‘Big Four’ is 28 years old or younger. Your championship window is wide open. Has there been talk about how many titles you guys can win together and how this can be a potential dynasty (even though that word gets thrown around a lot)?
Green: “It’s very attractive because, like you said, we are young. That’s what we’re setting out to do. We’re trying to be as great as we can possibly be. That’s what is so interesting about this. We’re trying to set out and do things that will be remembered in this league forever. It’s very exciting, when you think of the possible upside of this.”
AK: You no longer have to guard him. How exciting is that?
Green: “Well, I’ll have to guard him every day in practice (laughs). That’s a little less intense than a game though. I’m definitely happy. He’s one of the greatest scorers to play this game and it’s good to play with him and not guard him. That makes my job easier.”
AK: What was the actual meeting with KD like? What was the reception?
Green: “It was great. He was very receptive. He was attentive, and he and his team had questions that we answered. Overall, it was a great vibe in the meeting. I think we all just really meshed from the very start.”
AK: You guys just won 73 games. I know you have a bad taste in your mouth after the NBA Finals, but what are the expectations for next year now?
Green: “We’re never going into a season saying that we’re trying to beat 73 wins. Every season, we are trying to win the championship. That’s the goal, and that has always been the goal. We won 73 games and didn’t win a championship this year, so who cares about 73? There’s no point in going into the season saying, ‘Hey, can this team beat 73 wins?’ It doesn’t matter.
“The goal is to win a championship. Every team enters the season with the goal to win the championship, but realistically there are five or six teams with a realistic shot at winning a championship. That will continue to be our goal.”
AK: Now, your front office has to fill out the roster and put players around the All-Stars. You recruited Kevin Durant so well, will you continue to recruit free agents in the coming days and weeks?
Green: “I’ll do whatever I have to do to give us the best possible chance to win. When I do things, I’m all-in. I’m all-in for this organization. Whatever they need me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s just who I am as a person.”
AK: I know this is an exciting day, but now Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezezli among others may be moving on. Is it somewhat bittersweet losing those guys since you guys are such a close team?
Green: “Absolutely, and that’s always the case. But that’s the business that we’re in. There are some things [and relationships] that you create that last longer than careers or what happens in basketball.”
AK: Is this kind of surreal for you? A few years ago, you were a second-round pick and not getting much attention. Now, you’re a champion, an All-Star, you inked a big contract and you were a huge part of recruiting Kevin Durant to your team. Take me through these last few years. Are we all living in Draymond Green’s dream?
Green: “Man, it’s definitely surreal. It’s been a great few years for me and I don’t take any of this stuff for granted. I put in a lot of work, that’s for sure. It didn’t come easy. To see all of the work paying off, I’m definitely thankful for it.”