There is plenty of chatter around the Phoenix Suns at the moment. That sort of thing happens when your team is underperforming. Phoenix is 19-18 on the season, on pace to win 42 games during the 2023-24. To say that would fall short of regular season expectations, knowing the team rosters Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, is an understatement.
The team is sputtering along, historically failing in fourth quarters, and making no headway in a talented Western Conference. The reason why? No one can quite put their finger on it. Is it the coaching? Is it the role players? Is it the lack of a true point guard? Is it the cohesion of the Big Three?
When information is lacking, assumption occurs.
Assumption made its way into the headlines on Christmas Day when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant was frustrated with the situation in Phoenix. “You talk to people in Phoenix and around that organization,” Woj stated, “they can feel the frustration with Durant.”
The assumption made by those comments? That Kevin Durant wanted a trade.
People spent their Christmas Day not around chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but on trade machines trying to figure out scenarios that would send the four-time NBA scoring champion to their team. They were concocting permutations to obtain the ten-time All-NBA forward, tossing in picks and expiring contracts.
Sixers and Suns mock trade if KD asks out— Aidan LaPorta (@AidanLaPorta69) December 25, 2023
-Tobias Harris (expiring deal/filler)
-Furkan Korkmaz (expiring deal/filler)
-2026 1st (via worst of OKC, LAC, or HOU)
-2026 1st rd swap (via PHI)
-2028 1st (via…
All because Woj said KD was frustrated.
Following their loss to Luka and the Mavericks on Christmas Day — which amplified the “frustrated” comments — the Suns rallied, winning five of their next six games. The rumblings simmered and those who were excitingly punching the trade machine turned their attention inward to fix their franchise rather than via a Kevin Durant trade.
But then the Suns lost again, once to an injured Memphis Grizzlies team and once in a blowout to the Los Angeles Clippers. Both shared a common theme: Phoenix was horrendous in the fourth quarter. Over those two games, the Suns averaged 19 points, 33.3% from the field, 5.5% from three-point range, and were a -34.
Frustration is once again beginning to boil. Those who get their jollies taking victory laps on social media with “I told you so” comments are exiting their lonely caves of negativity and shouting from the hilltops about how right they were. Good for you guys. Shall I tousle your hair to make you feel better about yourselves? Or is it only when failure occurs that you feel joy?
This time, however, Kevin Durant is getting ahead of misconstrued rumors and aggregated assumptions.
In an interview with FOX Sports, Durant was straightforward with how he is feeling in his current situation.
“I don’t want to get traded,” Durant said following the loss on Monday. “I’m not frustrated because Brad was injured. I wasn’t frustrated because of the role players on the team. That shit really was ignorant to me, you know what I’m saying?”
As I stated shortly after the Woj comments were made:
Of course KD is frustrated. He is a competitor. An elite competitor, I might add. Phoenix hasn’t looked good on offense. Or defense. Or in transition. Or from behind the arc. Or from a coaching standpoint. Or a health standpoint.
Durant is frustrated because this has been a frustrating season in nearly every capacity. I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything sooner.
“There’s a lot of people trying to read my body language instead of talking to me and asking me, ‘Hey, what do you think?’” Durant said. “At least come and talk to me and ask, ‘What were you thinking right there?’ Maybe I was pissed off at myself.”
“It’s like, yeah, we lose a game – you think I’m supposed to be happy after we lose a game? You know what I’m saying? I’m not frustrated with the whole situation. I may be frustrated at the moment, at a bad play or a tough stretch. But nah, I enjoy the grind.”
It is a grind, and a grind lies ahead for KD and the Suns as they attempt to identify what is wrong and fix it. Whatever it is, Durant will be here for it.
“That whole few days was so trash to me because it was all speculation about what I may be thinking based off of body language; I’m not smiling enough,” Durant continued. “There wasn’t even no smoke there. That was just one game, man. Everyone needed something to write right before Christmas.”
And people did write. Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions.
As for the team navigating their rough road thus far? “I love that we’re struggling almost because we can learn from it and get better and move forward from it,” Durant said.
“Obviously, I don’t love struggling,” he added. “But I like finding good things out of winning basketball games. The more film we watch, the more pride we take. The tougher it is, the better we’ll become from it. That’s my mentality the whole time.”
Durant continued, calling out those who do not recognize his greatness. In somewhat of a fortification of his legacy, and someone who cares about the game in which he plays, he expressed his point of view on his critics.
“Nobody wants to call me great. They want to call me all these other words: Insecure, miserable, bad teammate. They can’t write, ‘KD is such a student of the game’ or ‘He’s a great teammate’ or ‘He loves basketball.’ Nobody wants to hear that shit when it comes to me.”
“Why are you continuously trying to create drama around my name for no reason?” Durant said in response to the media reports. “Why are you trying to make my life miserable? That’s the question. There’s no need. Let’s just talk about what I see on the basketball court because the fan base wants to know how I’m thinking as a basketball player.”
KD put it out there as plainly as you can. Sorry, NBA trade machine enthusiasts, but you’ll have to put the keyboard down and dream up scenarios on NBA2K.