Going into the offseason, Kevin Durant was set to become the biggest free agent since LeBron James in 2010. And like LeBron, he shook the league to its core when he made the blockbuster announcement that he was leaving Oklahoma City to sign with the Golden State Warriors.
Of course, not everyone was a fan of that decision. It resurrected all the old concerns about parity and the proliferation of super teams, but once the dust settled, folks started to see things a bit more clearly. Mavs owner Mark Cuban pointed out the need for a good villain in pro sports, and J.J. Redick reminded everyone that it’s healthy for players to have more agency in terms of deciding their futures.
“People get mad about what he did, but to me, I’ve been a player and I’ve been a coach. When you’re free, that means you’re free. You can do what you want to do. He opted to go to Golden State. That’s his choice,” Lue said. “But they don’t say anything or get mad when guys get cut or they trade guys. Nothing is said about that. But as soon as a guy picks a team he wants to go to, it’s a big deal. I don’t understand it. I like KD. I support him in whatever he wants to do.”
Lue’s journeyman status during his playing days has obviously influenced his philosophy on the subject, and it’s just the latest example of his uncanny knack for identifying and connecting with today’s players and being empathetic to their concerns. He might, however, sing a different tune if he has to face Durant and the Warriors in a potential Finals rematch next spring.