* Tonight on ESPN: Thunder vs. Warriors (10:30 ET)
Kevin Durant says the recent in-game tiff he had with Golden State Warriors teammate Draymond Green won't have a bearing on his future with the team or his potential free agency in 2019.
Green and Durant got into a much-publicized and discussed spat late in an eventual 121-116 overtime loss to the LA Clippers on Nov. 12. That dispute led to Green being suspended on game without pay for conduct detrimental to the team and to talk in some NBA circles that Durant was perhaps souring on staying with the Warriors long term.
Durant holds a player option on his contract for next season, but he is widely expected to decline that and enter the free-agent market next summer. Durant, in an interview with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, says that the incident between he and Green won't play into what he decides in the future.
“Nah, [it won’t factor],” Durant told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. “Because at the end of the day, I’m just a ballplayer that’s just trying to be in a great environment to play basketball and groom my skills every day. And I want to compete on a level that once the game starts, I’m just totally comfortable with my surroundings, with just going out there and being me.”
“I never really felt like it was a problem, because I know Dray and he says some crazy [expletive] out his mouth all the time,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “But on top of that, it was just that there was so much coming with it from the outside, and so much stuff that we have to answer now.”
Durant told Yahoo Sports that it did not take him long to put the entire incident with Green into its proper perspective.
“I was upset, but I know that I can’t hold on to something like this,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I know that I’ve got to make a choice with myself, like how long are you going to be upset about this to the point where you’re going to let it affect what you do on the floor or how you approach the game? Once it gets there now, I got to make a grown-man decision and tell myself, ‘Look, man, no matter what, you still got to come to work every single day. It’s going to work out. It’s going to figure itself out.’ And I think everyone’s been handling it the best way they could and we’re just trying to move forward with it.”
After serving his suspension during the Warriors' 110-103 road win against the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 13, Green returned to the lineup on Nov. 15 against the Houston Rockets. Before that game, Green went out of his way to explain his side of things with Durant and tried to mend fences with him as well.
"What happened a few nights ago, Kevin and I spoke. We're moving forward," Green said last Thursday. "There's no secret that I am an emotional player. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, I play with that same emotion. Sometimes they get the best of me and it doesn't work in my favor. I'm going to live with that because it works in my favor to the good -- as my resume speaks and this team's resume speaks -- moreso than it doesn't. So, I'm never going to change who I am.
"I've read a lot about how 'is this the end of the run? Or 'Is it over?' Or 'did I force Kevin to leave?' ... What you must know, nobody in this organization, from a player -- not myself, not Kevin not anybody else -- is going to beat us. If you're one of them 29 other teams in this league, you've got to beat us. We're not going to beat us. We're going to continue to do what we do. I'm sorry if that ruins everybody's stories."
The Warriors have been in a slump since the incident in Los Angeles. They are 1-4 since Nov. 12 and have lost three straight games, although a large part of Golden State's woes can be attributed to the absence of injured star guard Stephen Curry. The former two-time Kia MVP winner has missed the Warriors' last six games with a left groin strain and is expected to be out throughout the weekend.
Coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Tuesday that Curry will be re-evaluated on Saturday to further determine the timetable for his return.
Durant echoed some of Green's sentiment in his interview with Yahoo Sports, saying that the rift could end up fueling the Warriors to another championship run.
“When you go through some adversity in your personal relationships and you kind of lay everything out on the table with that human, that person, you start to just really get an understanding for everything,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “… I feel like we’ll all do that at some point. Not just me and Draymond, but I feel like just being with these guys for so long that you start to get comfortable.”
It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for Green. He hurt the toe against Memphis on Nov. 5, missed Golden State’s next two games, returned for the game against the Clippers -- the one where he had the dustup with Durant -- and was suspended by the Warriors for their next game, against Atlanta on Wednesday. Green then played in Houston the next night, on a minutes restriction because of the toe, and went scoreless.
The toe injury has sidelined Green for the last two games and he is not expected to play tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Warriors GM Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr have long supported Green’s fiery nature that leads to technical fouls. Myers even sat with Green next door to Oracle Arena at the Oakland Coliseum when Green was suspended for a crucial Game 5 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors wound up losing in seven.
Green apologized after yelling at Kerr during halftime of a game at Oklahoma City in February 2016.
“My feeling on Draymond and his impact on our team doesn’t change. These things happen sometimes over the course of an NBA season,” Kerr said Tuesday. “We deal with it — again, internally — so any conversations that are happening or have happened it’s our business.”
This wasn’t the first verbal altercation between Durant, the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP, and Green. In another overtime loss, 109-106 at Sacramento on Feb. 4, 2017, they shouted at each other and argued near the bench.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.