PHOENIX SUNS

Kevin Durant: ‘People in the Valley are going to love watching’ Royce O’Neale

Feb 8, 2024, 11:02 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2024, 7:50 am

Royce O'Neale, Kevin Durant...

Royce O'Neale #00 and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrate after beating the Portland Trail Blazers 109-107 at Moda Center on November 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Kevin Durant is reuniting with an old Brooklyn Nets teammate in newly-acquired Royce O’Neale, and he approves of the addition.

After a win over the Utah Jazz in which he scored a game high 31 points, Durant lauded O’Neale’s ability to play with scorers and be effective away from the ball as well as his high IQ, calling him an “underrated passer (who) can shoot the basketball.”

“(O’Neale is) a position-less basketball player that’s gonna help us out and fit in, so I’m excited about him,” Durant said. “I love being around Royce and can’t wait to keep building with him as a person first and then as a teammate.”

Durant added that O’Neale is a connector in different lineups whether it’s as a small ball forward or initiating some offense and getting other guys involved.

“He just plays extremely hard,” Durant said. “Loves the game, loves his teammates, I think people in the Valley are going to love watching him.”

Bradley Beal, who added 30 points in the win, told reporters after the game that he’s always been a fan of O’Neale from afar.

“I’m definitely excited for what he’s able to bring to the team. He’s a big defender, he can guard multiple positions, which is somebody that we need right now,” Beal said. “And on top of that, his ability to shoot, he can really shoot the ball. Put it on the floor too and create, get in the paint … He just fits the mold of what we’re building, and we’re excited to have him for this push.”

Coach Frank Vogel called O’Neale “an exceptional defender, an exceptional 3-point shooter and a winner” after shouting out Suns owner Mat Ishbia for going the extra mile and incurring an extra $20 million in luxury tax, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

“I love that Mat Ishbia’s willing to spend even more and do whatever it takes to give us the best chance to win an NBA championship for this city,” Vogel said. “I mean he’s just all in on that.”

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