Du­rant: En­vi­ron­ment around LeBron is ‘toxic’

Business World - - World Sports -

LOS AN­GE­LES — 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’s stint with the Mi­ami Heat and Kevin Love dur­ing James’s 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 pos­tups; 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. —

KEVIN DU­RANT

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