Draymond On The KD Elephant In The Room

Since KD wasn’t willing to answer the question, he was willing to keep that discussion going.

Jim Rome
April 21, 2020 - 9:15 am
Draymond Green and Kevin Durant

USA Today

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Like everyone, Draymond Green checked out The Last Dance. And like you, he has thoughts. Unlike you, he went on Uninterrupted “WRTS: After Party” show with Paul Rivera and Maverick Carter.

And Draymond says he sees a lot of similarities between the Bulls and the Warriors.

"It definitely hit close to home. Ironically, our season was the 20-year anniversary of that season. And we have a very important piece of our season, who was a piece of that season, which was Steve Kerr. I think Phil [Jackson] did what was great, which is acknowledge the elephant in the room. Because all year, if Phil doesn't do that, all year everyone else is dealing with that somewhere. And whether it's coming in questions [from the media], so now once you get these questions from the media, we've already addressed that as a team. We really don't need to talk about that. And our season was a little different from the standpoint of it was contracts, but it was on players. It wasn't necessarily the organization."

The elephant in the room for the Bulls was the fact that Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf made it very public and very clear that 1997-98 would be the last year for that current collection of Bulls. That Phil Jackson would not be back.

Jerry Krause said "Beyond this contract, Phil agrees its better we part company. At the end of next season, there will be a new coach here. We certainly want to look at building for the future."

Reinsdort put it in a statement: "Phil wanted to come back for one last year to try to defend our World Championship. It has always been our intention to bring Phil back for that last season and then turn our attention to building for the future."

That is still impossible for me to fathom. Imagine having a team with Michael, Scottie, Dennis, and Phil, and thinking, yeah, that’s on the verge of a SIXTH RING: SIX! And not letting these legends defend what is rightfully theirs and maintain the greatest dynasty in the history of the sport, maybe any sport. No. Let’s just shut it down and rebuild for the future. Bust it up: never mind what the greatest ever said he would not play for any other than the greatest coach ever, who wants to keep coaching: tell em both to hit the bricks after the season. And then just make sure everyone knows you mean it, put in an official statement from the team! Unbelievable that ever, ever happened. That they actually busted up that dynasty.

But that’s my point, not Draymond’s point, although I’m sure he’d agree with it.  Draymond’s point was, they knew that thing would be busted up at the end of the year: so it wasn’t an actual question every day, during the year. It had already been addressed. In other words, the elephant that was in the room had been labeled and identified. At least in the case of those the Bulls. 

In the case of the Warriors, the elephant in the room was of course listed at 6’10, 240 and goes by the name Kevin Durant. And according to Draymond, while labeled, that was never addressed; and because of that, it was super awkward. 

"So, for instance, Kevin took the one-year deal on his own. So that was kind of the elephant in the room. And although Steve's approach was like, 'Hey, guys, let's approach this year because we don't know what next year brings,' you've got Kevin's contract, you've got [Klay Thompson]'s contract, and I kind of got thrown in that contract thing, although I had another year after that year, which was this year. And so that was kind of the elephant in the room, and although Steve would kind of hit on it, [saying], 'Let's just enjoy this year for what it is because we don't know what next year holds,' it didn't necessarily carry the same weight because what should have happened was Kevin come out and say, 'Hey, man, this is it, so let's do this,' or, 'This isn't it.'"

Now we’re getting somewhere else. And if I’m being honest, I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve been waiting for Draymond to get in front of a camera and let it rip about how things went down with Durant. And now is that time.

Draymond is here to weigh in on the fact that Durant wouldn’t publicly commit to staying or announce that he was leaving, he just left it hanging. And because he left it hanging, he left THEM hanging. And he left them hanging because they were the ones who were asked about it daily and had to answer the questions about Durant. 

"But you can't just leave the elephant in the room, because what happened was the question came to us every day, like every time we spoke to the media, Klay and myself was asked about our contract. It was strictly due to Kevin, because while that was going on, Klay was saying, 'I want to be a Warrior forever. I want to be here. We started this thing. This is where I want to be.' I'm saying, 'Yo, I want to be here for my career. We started this, we built this, I want to finish my career here with the guys I started it with.' And then you kind of had Kevin, [saying] like, 'I don't know what I'm going to do next year, and it don't matter'; but it does matter, because you're not the only person that has to answer that question.”

There are multiple parts about this that have to piss off Draymond, but that last part really seems to bother him. And I get it.

Since Durant wasn’t willing to answer the question, he was willing to keep that discussion going. He didn’t do anyting to shut it down. And then seemed to vacillate between both loving and hating all the speculation about what he was going to do. But he didn’t want to answer questions about it.

And when he wouldn’t answer any of the questions or shut down the speculation, the media naturally went running to Draymond, and Klay and the coaches for their reaction.  In the meantime, Klay and Draymond had already gone on record as saying this is exactly where they wanted to be. So there really were no questions about their status: but because Durant would not make the same commitment, Draymond and Klay were constantly asked about him. Which had to be irritating as hell.  Like don’t ask me, ask him. Why are you asking me what Durant is going to do; go ask him. 

And look, I get Durant not necessarily wanting to commit one way or the other. Maybe he really didn’t know what he was going to do. Or maybe he did and didn’t want to say.  And I have no problem with him bouncing and wanting to ball someplace else. His life, his decision. That’s cool. But I agree with Draymond, there was a better way to handle that decision. And if he couldn’t say I’m in or I’m out, all he had to say from the jump was, I’m going to say this one time and one time only: don’t ask me about it again, and don’t ask my teammates about it again. And don’t ask my coaches either. I don’t know what I’m going to do after the season. And I’m not thinking about that. The only thing I’m thinking is winning a ring. Period. Don’t ask me about anything beyond this season because I’m not thinking and I’m definitely not talking about it. And then there is no elephant. It’s not a thing. 

But that’s not what he did. Not only did he not slam the door on it, he kept wide open saying at the beginning of the season, “Some days I think about my free agency, some days I don't. Some days I think about what my future looks like, some days I don't. I'm just human.”

So he’s inviting the questions: he’s inviting the speculation: he’s creating a circus; and not just for himself but for his teammates. If he was thinking of his teammates, he would have said, don’t drag those guys into this: I’m not going to allow this to become a distraction: I’m not talking about it. Ask me about it after the season. But that’s not what he did. By not doing it, he put his teammates and the team in a bad position.

And, it led to that late-game argument between Green and Durant, and from the sounds of it, led to a whole lot more. And this is coming from Green, who was the one who initiated the recruitment of Durant. If Durant’s future was the elephant in the room, it seems like that elephant was crapping everywhere.

Considering Draymond and Klay both were on record as saying they wanted to end their career there, there may have been some resentment on their part that Durant didn’t. But not nearly as much as him not wanting and handling the situation the way he did. They can live with his decision but there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle it and he handled it all wrong.