OAKLAND — For the ninth straight day since the New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas, all but announcing to the league that they were hunting for multiple superstar free agents, Kevin Durant remained silent.
The Golden State Warriors forward — who was supposed to speak with media on Tuesday before bolting to the training room — was not on the practice floor for shootaround on Wednesday.
By failing to address the growing rumors — from Marc Stein of the New York Times, to an executive telling Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck that Durant has told the Knicks he’s coming — even in a pro forma way, Durant has opened the door for even greater speculation that those rumors have hit too close to home. Golden State, though, is focused on the season at hand.
“I think we’re handlingit great,” said Klay Thompson — subject of free agent rumors himself — at shootaround ahead of the Warriors’ game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday morning. “You can only control what you can control, and can’t listen to media coverage or speculation.”
One of Durant’s best friends, Royal Ivey, who played with him for two years in Oklahoma City, is on David Fizdale’s coaching staff. Scott Perry, the team’s general manager, was the assistant general manager for the Seattle SuperSonics when they drafted Durant second overall in 2007. When the Warriors visited New York earlier in the season, Durant was greeted by a billboard with his likeness on it, outside of Madison Square Garden.
Those facts have been true since the start of the season, yet, never has the speculation been so loud.
Durant could end that speculation by simply speaking to the media and saying he’s doing as the team and organization are doing — at least publicly — by saying he’s focusing on the season and winning a third title in a row, and that he’s made no decision.
Even if it didn’t have the ring of truth, it would at the very least end the discussion for the time being. Instead, he’s been passive aggressive — liking critical comments left on a columnist’s Twitter — and has shown himself to be very sensitive to suggestions he’s already made his decision, which came up during his early-season locker room and on-court spat with Draymond Green. It’s not a new aspect of Durant’s personality. His supposed spat with Russell Westbrook was fueled by his silence and passive aggressive social media tendencies, and he has, in the past, used burner twitter accounts to fight back against public criticism.
As dominant a scorer as the league has seen in this generation, his seeming insecurity and his mercurial nature in dealing (or not dealing) with media and outside speculation have been the Durant’s biggest weaknesses.
“There always will be speculation, in anything you do,” Thompson said. “This is what we signed up for.”
Golden State has four more games left after Wednesday before the All-Star break, but Klay Thompson has made it plain that, while he’s going to be in Charlotte for his fifth All-Star game, he won’t be participating in the 3-point shooting competition with Stephen Curry.
Thompson won the contest in 2016 with 27 out of a total of 34 possible points, tying the record set the previous year by Curry. That record was broken two years later by Devin Booker in Los Angeles, a contest in which Thompson also participated.
“I did it four years in a row, kind of wanted to be a spectator for once and enjoy the show,” Thompson said. “I’ll for sure do it again before my career is over, but I kind of just wanted to be a spectator this year and take in the whole event from the sideline, which I haven’t been able to do for the last four years.”
One of Thompson’s fellow All-Stars, LaMarcus Aldridge, along with four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, won’t be on the floor Wednesday for the Spurs. They’re both sitting down for “load management” reasons — the same reason LeBron James missed his date with the Warriors at Oracle Arena last week.
“I’ve just got to take advantage,” Thompson said. “When they’re down their two All-Stars, you’ve got to establish dominance early. It’s still a very well-run team, and they play great together, but you’ve got to take advantage when guys are resting, kind of like we did against the Lakers last Saturday.”