Kevin Durant could become a free agent following the season, but it doesn’t sound as if he sees himself as a fit with LeBron James.
The Golden State Warriors star told Bleacher Report that it will be hard for the Los Angeles Lakers to sign players to be teammates of James because of the “toxic” environment that comes with the territory.
“So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people,” Durant said. “He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I’m like, we’re playing basketball here, and it’s not even about basketball at certain points.
“So I get why anyone wouldn’t want to be in that environment because it’s toxic. Especially when the attention is B.S. attention, fluff. It’s not LeBron’s fault at all — it’s just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball.”
Durant said many players have to alter the way they play to be teammates of James. He cited Chris Bosh during James’ stint with the Miami Heat and Kevin Love during James’ second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers a two prime examples.
“Kevin Love, he had to totally change his game to fit, to be a shooter,” Durant said. “Which, I think, he deserves way more credit for switching his game. Bosh, same way. LeBron is a player that needs to play with guys that already know how they play the game — and shooters.
“Like, young players that are still developing. It’s always going to be hard because he demands the ball so much, he demands control of the offense and he creates for everybody.”
Star players such as Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler could be on the market this summer but the Lakers aren’t believed to be at the top of either player’s radar.
Durant said he doesn’t view Leonard as a fit for James.
“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi, trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense,” Durant said. “Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”
James has occasionally made life difficult for coaches — there are already rumblings he ignores Luke Walton’s play calls — but the Lakers coach came to James’ defense and told ESPN that he is an “incredible teammate.”
“He’s very unselfish. He’s won multiple championships with other superstars,” Walton said. “So I don’t really … I haven’t read the article so I can’t comment on that, but what you’re asking me, to me the question is, why would you not want to play with LeBron? He’s a winner and he’s an incredible player and he’s unselfish.”
As for Durant, his potential free agency might be tied in part to a relationship with teammate Draymond Green that was toxic on at least one occasion this season, leading to a one-game suspension for Green.