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The New NBA Landscape According to Kevin Durant

The Warriors superstar analyzes the blockbuster trades from the 2017 offseason, explaining how Paul George, Chris Paul, and Jimmy Butler will fare on their new teams

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A few days ago, Bill Simmons and Kevin Durant met for their fourth Bill Simmons Podcast interview. Part 1 dropped on the heels of the Kyrie Irving–to–Boston trade, and Durant weighed in on Irving’s trade request from a player’s perspective. But after one of the busiest and most surprising NBA offseasons in recent memory, Simmons and Durant had much more to discuss. In the Part 2 of the podcast, they assessed the other huge trades: Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, Paul George to Oklahoma City, and Chris Paul to Houston. Durant assesses the fit of each player on his new team. Read a portion of their conversation below, and listen to the full episode to hear Durant answer more mailbag questions.

This transcript has been edited and condensed. The full podcast will be released at 3:00 a.m. ET on Monday, August 28.


Bill Simmons: Do you buy the theory that the Warriors shook up the entire NBA and caused all this player-movement chaos that happened?

Kevin Durant: Yeah.

Simmons: Because it’s been an especially crazy summer.

Durant: Yeah, I buy it. Yeah.

Simmons: I mean, we’ve had like five major moves. The 1- and the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference traded A-list starters to each other.

Durant: I don’t think that was because of us, but — 

Simmons: No, it might have been though.

Durant: No, but a lot of teams making moves because of us. You see Houston making moves because they want to.

Simmons: What was the one that surprised you the most?

Durant: That one.

Simmons: Chris Paul?

Durant: I’m not surprised. I’m sorry. I’m not surprised by anything, but it was just kind of like, “Hmm, damn. That’s a smart move.” I wouldn’t think nobody would be that smart to pull that one off.

Simmons: What do you think of James [Harden] and Chris Paul on the same team?

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Durant: I think it was a great move. You put two guys together that — crafty with the ball like that — they’re going to get everybody shots, and they’re going to get each other shots, so it was a ballsy move to pull off by [Daryl] Morey. And I don’t think nobody would have thought to do that, because especially when you’ve got James, who basically plays your point guard, you really have to have some type of clarity when you’re making a decision like that. Because it’s just like, you played well last year, but this — he cannot sustain this. You gotta know that. You can’t; just look at the numbers. So you can tell that he’s actually seeing some stuff within this team. He’s paying attention.

Simmons: What about PG to OKC?

Durant: That was a shock too.

Simmons: PG was one of your favorite opponents.

Durant: Oh yeah. Yeah. Any 3-man that I feel — all the 3s that play my position. That’s the only players I’m really rivaling with. Like, I don’t rival with no other players. I’m not guarding a point guard all game, or guarding shooting guards or power forwards. I’m looking at only small forwards, so that’s why I’ve got so much respect, and I think Paul George is so good. A lot of people disrespect him. Because I play against him and I respect my position.

So that was shocking because Indiana just gave him away. And I ain’t think OKC would even think about giving up anything to trade for him. I didn’t think they would do it, but that was a ballsy move.

Simmons: OKC has the third-highest payroll this year. I don’t know if you noticed that.

Durant: Good. Spend it.

Simmons: Steven Adams, Paul George, Westbrook, Andre Roberson, and who’s the fifth guy in crunch time for them. I’m blanking.

Durant: Patrick Patterson.

Simmons: So that’s their crunch time, probably. That’s a good spot.

Durant: No, no, no. It’s going to be, they going to try, they’re going to probably go Russ, uhh, who’s the sixth man?

Simmons: Kanter?

Durant: They need a — I think there’s another wing they might use and put PG at the 4 and put Steven at the 5.

Simmons: I think they’re going to — 

Durant: They need another wing.

Simmons: I’ve kind of talked myself into them.

Durant: [Alex] Abrines, maybe at the end of the game?

Simmons: Yeah, possibly.

Durant: Get him some space.

Tate Frazier: They still have [Doug] McDermott at the wing.

Simmons: Oh yeah. Dougie McBuckets.

Durant: So they gone play either — it’s gonna be Dre, Russ — 

Simmons: But they lost Taj.

Durant: PG, Steve, and then one of those shooters.

Simmons: And then the Clips have the random Patrick Beverley.

Durant: [Milos] Teodosic. I can’t wait to see him play.

Simmons: Have you seen the YouTube clips of him?

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Durant: I played against him. I can’t wait to see him. He made the greatest pass I’ve ever seen in my life last summer. We all was like, “Yo how the — how the hell do you see that?” He was running toward the sideline and he flicked it around his head like through two people on the dime. He was at the 3-point line and flicked it to somebody over his head with his right hand, and hit him on a dime. And it kind of faked me out. I spun in a circle. I’m like, “That was the greatest pass I’ve ever seen in my life.” From anybody. Best pass I’ve ever seen. So I’m excited to see how he plays.

Simmons: What does DeAndre say about the revamped Clippers? I know you’re buddies.

Durant: They like it. He’s excited. He’s excited about it. Me and DeAndre; that’s my best friend in the league. You could tell that at some point that everybody there needed some new life and energy. Whether it was somebody was leaving or somebody was bringing in another big player, they needed some new energy, and you could sense that now with the Clips. Especially with Doc just being the head coach now. I think that’s going to be good for him. And this is all my opinion, so anybody getting offended by it, I’m sorry. It’s just how I feel.

You got two good point guards. You got a starting point guard and your backup, and then you got irrationally confident Austin Rivers who can go off and get you 30.

Simmons: He’s got some Dion Waiters DNA in him.

Durant: Oh, him and Dion Waiters are on the same island.

Simmons: Yeah.

Durant: Or right next door to each other. He’s got a — 

Simmons: He’s got a canal. He’s got a little canal that leads into Waiters island.

Durant: A channel.

Simmons: A channel.

Durant: He got a channel. He’s confident so they should be good. Blake, now he’s a man.

Kleiman: [Danilo] Gallinari.

Durant: Gallinari. Now Blake’s the man, so.

Simmons: My issue with all the moves they made: I like the team on paper, but those guys have to stay on the court. Gallinari is great but he misses … durability. I think durability is an underrated NBA skill. Gotta stay on the court.

Durant: No more four in five nights … the schedule is stretched out longer. So, let’s be optimistic about injuries this year too, all right?

Simmons: I’m hoping!

Durant: Gallinari and Blake Griffin are going to have healthy seasons.

Simmons: Are you ready to play in a league where Dion Waiters has a $52 million contract?

Durant: Hell yeah. He should have got more. … But he knows that his fault.

Simmons: He knows, why?

Durant: He could have got more. He fucked around.

Simmons: You thought he waited too long?

Durant: Nah, nah, he’s supposed to be better. He know that. He waited too long to do what he’s doing in Miami I think.

Simmons: We didn’t talk about Minnesota. I did a podcast with Jimmy like a month ago.

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Durant: Jimmy.

Simmons: He was excited.

Durant: He was?

Simmons: He said he’s the best — 

Durant: He was hurt. I could tell he was hurt he got traded.

Simmons: Oh he definitely was. Well, because they blindsided him.

Durant: Yeah.

Simmons: He was in Paris.

Durant: Ain’t no loyalty man. Do your thing, Jimmy. He was in Paris at Fashion Week with D-Wade. Them boys had on nice clothes, good fabrics.

Simmons: I don’t know if I believe that story 100 percent.

Durant: I do not believe that. I don’t believe D-Wade plays cards.

Simmons: Oh, interesting.

Simmons: Yeah, Jimmy Butler, Towns.

Durant: Towns.

Simmons: Wiggins.

Durant: Wiggins.

Simmons: Jeff Teague.

Durant: That’s a lot of talent.

Simmons: Taj [Gibson].

Durant: Lot of talent, boy. Let’s see how that works.

Simmons: Thibs.

Durant: So let’s go down the line with that. Now Teague. Can’t really shoot that well but he can play. He need the ball though. And Jimmy. He can shoot it, but he need a rhythm so he need the ball, too. Wiggins: He the same way. He need the ball. They can all score. They all good, but somebody gotta give up something. Whoever give up the most — 

Simmons: Blog headline tomorrow: “KD doesn’t believe in Timberwolves.”

Durant: I’m just telling you what everybody else knows.

Simmons: I’m just talking [about] what the internet does.

Durant: Didn’t I just point out their games though? Am I right about their games?

Simmons: You’re right; somebody is going to have to sacrifice

Durant: I’m just saying somebody will have to give up something in their games in order for it to work, and I believe that they will. But Towns needs to be the guy that they get the ball to, I think, because he’s so good. Jimmy needs to be facilitating. Wiggins is going to be the guy [when] you need a basket; he’s going to be the finisher. I think. If I was coaching the team on 2K that’s how I would play it.