EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Kevin Durant clears up his reported frustration in Phoenix Suns offense

Jul 10, 2024, 6:02 AM

LAS VEGAS — The button was pressed before anyone could even leave the gym.

Shortly after Game 4 concluded and the Phoenix Suns’ season was over, The Athletic dropped a report on some of the behind-the-scenes happenings with the Suns, including Durant’s frustration with the state of the offense and his role within it. Notably mentioned was Durant “feeling that he was being relegated to the corner far too often.”

As he described to Yahoo! Sports’ Vincent Goodwill in regards to the trade noise popping up again before the draft, this post-mortem on the Suns’ season felt like “The KD Button” getting pressed. There was inside reporting on his discontent but none on Devin Booker or Bradley Beal. Both those guys were surely just as frustrated if not more.

Most assumed it was not directed at the Suns specifically. That, of course, did not stop the speculation on Durant’s potential unhappiness in Phoenix as a whole, a speculation that follows him everywhere. He has since cleared that up with Goodwill for those who needed to hear him say he’s cool with the Suns.

Durant hadn’t had the chance to clarify or speak in general on the report since the season was over. He spoke with Arizona Sports from Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas on that, the arrival of a new head coach and his feelings on next year.

Durant was just like the many of us watching the offense who grew tired of seeing a stagnant flow, especially for a team with so much offensive firepower.

“If we struggling on offense and the ball is not moving and your best players aren’t being put in a position or in space to showcase their skill — that’s with anybody,” he told Arizona Sports on Tuesday. “I ain’t like when Book was in the corner a lot or if Brad was sitting around a lot. We just stood around. I think you could make more options or we (could have) had more movement in our offense.

“To say I was frustrated about that — that’s just a basketball thing that we always (feel). We trying to figure it out, you know what I mean? Style of play is not something that I’m pissed off at the team about. It’s just like, ‘Yo, we need to figure it out to get better.’ I think [new head coach Mike Budenholzer] has been watching film of what we did last year to try to incorporate some of those things that worked for us and try to finetune some of the things that didn’t.”

Durant told Goodwill he has been in constant communication with the Suns over the summer. Part of that has been with Budenholzer.

“I’m excited about Bud,” Durant said. “He’s an experienced coach, been around for the last 20 years coaching. So he’s seen so many different types of players, different locker rooms. I’m interested to get to work with him. I’ve been chopping it up with him all summer. Just trying to get to know one another so we can help each other out once the season starts.”

Budenholzer has a tremendous track record for racking up wins, something the Suns will be positioned to do in Year 2 for this core group that will have built up much more continuity and stability.

Every situation is different but some sources of optimism out of Phoenix spawn from the success for both the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves this past season after the first year of their new dynamics went through some turbulent times.

Durant has seen that firsthand on a couple of teams, so he was asked if there’s something to that theory.

“I’ll know more once we all get out on the floor,” he said. “But we did win 49 games last year — it was a discombobulated season. Guys in and out, we didn’t have quite a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball, defensively we still trying to figure stuff out and we still was able to win 49 games our first year together. We just want to build off that. I love what we have. I feel confident in our group and I feel like a lot of people are underestimating us because of what we did last year so it’s on us to come out there and play with that chip on our shoulder.

“It’s not the first time that I’ve come into a season with people like, ‘Yo, your team is (expletive).’ You know what I’m saying? Your team underachieved. So it would be good to kind of play with that little chip on our shoulder as well. But at the end of the day it’s about going out there, playing together and having some fun and I think we’ll do that.”

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