Update: Zach Lowe of ESPN, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today and Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com have all reported that LeBron James did not actually text Kevin Durant asking if they wanted to team up on the Lakers. Original story follows.
Kevin Durant is the only player in the NBA who could make an argument for being on the level of LeBron James in terms of overall talent. He’s coming off consecutive finals MVPs while not being close to being Golden State Warriors fans’ favorite player. If he considers hitting a reset button for his legacy, he could do worse than teaming up with James on the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, James has already made in-roads to Durant in the hopes of making this happen.
“As it pertains to LeBron James and L.A., we know that reports have been that he’s been making some phone calls and what have you. I got two phone calls last night. After hours. With folks telling me that LeBron James reached out to Kevin Durant ... LeBron James reached out to Kevin Durant via text, from what I’m told, about coming to Los Angeles.”
However, it’s not clear that Smith’s report is true:
Sources close to LeBron: He didn't text KD and his going to the Lakers would not be sealed (or doomed) by whether or not they trade for Kawhi. ... Man, we'll all be better when this is over, one way or the other— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) June 28, 2018
But no matter whether LeBron texted Durant or not, Smith made it clear he’s not saying Lakers fans should buy a Durant jersey just yet:
“I don’t know what Kevin Durant’s response to him was, that is not the information that I got, but I will tell you what I did hear. Behind the scenes Kevin Durant was like ‘Why would I do that? You know what, as far as I’m concerned LeBron James is a big-time player and what have you but the way I look at it I should be perceived as the best in the world, I’m the reigning two-time champion. I’m the reigning two-time Finals MVP. Why would I think about doing something like that?’”
Well, kudos to Smith for having the text message update, but the more important aspect of this would be the response. As frustrating as it might be to be the more talented player and not get the recognition he might want from his fan base, there’s no guarantee Durant gets that recognition if he teams up with LeBron, either.
Still, so long as Durant is on Golden State, his legacy has a ceiling to it. He joined a 73-win team that was largely put together already. He’d still be leaning on talent around him to a large extent by teaming up with James, but he’d be a part of building the team up rather than hopping on board after all the building work has been done.
It should also be pointed out that Durant has said point-blank that he would re-sign in Golden State should he opt out.
With free agency kicking off Saturday night on the west coast, get ready for all kinds of rumors. This storyline isn’t going anywhere.