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Kevin Durant says ‘it’s not about what other teams are doing’ when discussing Thunder’s quiet offseason

Aug 11, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

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A few weeks ago in Las Vegas, after Kevin Durant announced his commitment to play in the World Championships next summer for USA Basketball, he took questions from reporters as is customary in these situations.

Durant is always polite and professional to deal with, but as soon as a question was asked about the Thunder’s offseason, he responded by saying “I love it,” before walking away and ending the interview session.

It was clear then that Durant wasn’t thrilled that his team didn’t make any moves to improve, while others in the West like the Rockets and the Clippers appeared to be loading up for a run at Oklahoma City’s regular season crown.

Speaking more recently, however, Durant now seems confident in his team’s ability to contend next season as currently constructed.

From Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

The changing landscape of the Western Conference hasn’t changed Kevin Durant’s outlook on his team’s chances.

“It’s not about what other teams are doing,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “It’s about what we’re going to do every single game. That’s how we approach it.”

“People that really knew, as far as our money situation, knew that we couldn’t sign anybody too big,” Durant said. “We got myself, Russell (Westbrook), (Kendrick Perkins) and Serge (Ibaka) all locked in on big contracts so it’s kind of hard to sign (someone). Everybody wants us to get the biggest free agents, but it’s kind of hard to do that with the money that we have (committed) and the tax and the new CBA. So it was kind of difficult. But we knew the business side of it. But we know we have a really good team.”

It’s true the Thunder are still relatively stacked, and a healthy Russell Westbrook is better than any addition another team could have made.

But remember, while Kevin Martin was inconsistent at best off the OKC bench last season, at least he was someone who could occasionally (though randomly) be counted on to drop 20 points in a game. Martin left in free agency, and the Thunder were unable to replace him with a player possessing a similar kill set.

It’s likely Durant was initially frustrated by the summer’s turn of events. Now that the free agent frenzy is over and things have had a chance to settle down, he’s coming to terms with the way his team stacks up against the retooled competition.

The Thunder are still going to be a top team in the West next season. But there’s no question that the other teams have closed the gap.

  1. blakegriffin32 - Aug 11, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    They’re going to miss Martin once Lamb starts coming off the bench and playing big minutes for them. OKC screwed this off season up.

    Imagine if they had kept Harden…

    • raysfan1 - Aug 11, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      I’d have loved it, but that’s just not fiscal reality for OKC. OKC fans knew when they signed Ibaka’s extension that Harden would be gone because they just couldn’t afford both at near-max deals.

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      imagine if they never signed Kendrick Perkins.

  2. zoomy123 - Aug 11, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Mark my words: People are going to be surprised at how bad this OKC team is going to be next season. They will still be 1 of the top 3 teams in the West but they are not going to be legit title contenders. OKC’s bench is not good enough, imo.

    • casualcommenter - Aug 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      It’s really hard to project how good OKC will be next year. I do think that they will be a top-4 seed in the West barring injury to Durant or Westbrook, but the fact is, the past 2 offseasons, they’ve first lost James Harden and then lost Kevin Martin. Those are proven NBA players who can knock down shots and score 20+ points if needed on nights when either Durant or Westbrook can’t get their shots to fall.

      To make up for that lost production, first they need to get more out of Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka. However, they also need at least 1, perhaps two, of their young guys to really step up, especially on offense. Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, and Perry Jones are their best bets.

      If they get that extra production from their young players, they’ll be a top-2 seed.
      If not, they’ll probably still be a top-4 seed but will find it VERY hard to advance in the playoffs, as teams with good defense and smart coaches will focus on slowing down Durant and Westbrook.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 11, 2013 at 7:42 PM

        Just bench Perkins forever. Play Durant at the 4, Ibaka at the 5. Or, leave Durant at the 3, Collison starts at 4, and Ibaka plays 5.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      Mark mine that the Thunder will be better than you think, particularly Reggie Jackson,

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:51 AM

        …and Jeremy Lamb. Mark MY words.

    • cmehustle - Aug 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Just how bad could they be if theyre still like you say one of the top three teams? The Thunder are banking on the kids they selected the last couple of years making strides and replacing the outgoing talent. If that happens, watch out.

  3. money2long - Aug 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    reggie jackson will have a nice season. all martin’s departure did was allow RJ to spread his wings more. the thunder will be fine. im marking that guy’s words only because im sure he’ll be wrong. durant is a fantastic talent and that is STILL what other western conference teams lack… KD is that consistent , clutch superstar who can and will carry the load. he’s young enough, talented enough and hungry enough.

    the thunder will not skip a beat. mark MY words.

  4. 12444uggg - Aug 11, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    As constructed OKC isn’t winning a title.

    • cmehustle - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:09 PM

      Only because of a team in South Beach.

      • 12444uggg - Aug 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        And Indy, Chicago, Golden State, Houston, San Antonio ect.

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:57 AM

        @ 12444uggg

        Get outta here with that nonsense! OKC without injury to Durant and Westbrook will murder those teams come playoff time, save CHI. Too much respect for CHI. HOU is unproven and has 0 bench. IND, well, we’ll see…I might just give you that, but personally I think OKC would give them that work.

  5. jcmeyer10 - Aug 11, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Ya’ll forgot about Dre. Andre Roberson that is.

  6. saintlaron - Aug 11, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Durant adding size & strength is the only thing they’ll need to make the western conference finals now that’s Westbrook is back. Scoring, Defense, Role players is what it takes to win a 7 game series.

  7. ymgn1 - Aug 11, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    I don’t think OKC and Durant care much whether they fall 2nd or 3rd round.. the teams to beat are still SA and Miami. If you can;t do that it doesn’t matter.. with MM gone and DW’s health increasingly questionable in Miami and SA a year older, OKC is probably not worse off on that front (though will still probably lose to either of those in a series..). Yes, Houston and Clips got closer (though not close enough..) but that’s not what’s keeping OKC up at night..

  8. legend30 - Aug 11, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    People are forgetting how good Westbrook is. They loss Kevin Martin, but I’m expecting Reggie Jackson to step up this year. Jeremy Lamb just needs to be solid he should be able to be productive by simply playing with Durant and Westbrook. No way the Spurs would beat OKC if they had a healthy Westbrook. A lot of teams improved but OKC still have a legitimate chance going to the finals.

  9. savvybynature - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    “a healthy Russell Westbrook is better than any addition another team could have made”

    Better than former-MVP Dwight Howard? Better than adding KG, Pierce and Jason Terry?

    Westbrook is definitely an All-Star player, but you hold him in higher regard than I do.

    • therealhtj - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Yes a healthy Russell Westbrook is greater than 3 broken down old former Celtics or D12 who’s never been an MVP and likely won’t be in the discussion now that he’ll be at best a #2 option for the remainder of his career. Not a very savvy observation.

      • savvybynature - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        Remind me what Westbrook has accomplished or won again?

        You are correct that D12 has never been voted MVP, he finished second to Derrick Rose in 2011. He also was the first player to lead the league in blocks, rebounds, and FG% in the same season, and was the first since Wilt to lead the league in three statistical categories in the same season. Also was defensive player of the year twice.

        What has Westbrook led the league in? Most bricked jumpers with 15 or more seconds left on the shot clock without a single pass being made?

        Also, Howard led a team to the Finals. You think Westbrook could lead a team to the Finals as their best player? So yeah, Howard can potentially have a bigger impact than Westbrook. And KG, Pierce and Terry are all champions who were healthier last season than Westbrook. But hey, it’s the offseason, where hope springs eternal. Maybe Westbrook becomes the best player in the league or something after coming back from injury?

  10. antistratfordian - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    He mad.

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Bro.

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