‘We’ve acquired work to do’: Kevin Durant able to roll with Suns

Kevin Durant watched the Phoenix Suns from afar over the previous few years, admiring the budding nucleus of Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton.

Now he is thrilled to be part of it.

“We’ve got all the pieces to be successful,” Durant stated.

The 13-time All-Star was launched Thursday on the ground at Footprint Arena in entrance of about 3,000 followers, who confirmed up in the course of the afternoon simply to listen to the veteran ahead reply just a few questions.

Many had been already sporting his No. 35 jersey, which has been a scorching vendor on the downtown fan retailer since GM James Jones pulled the blockbuster commerce with the Brooklyn Nets simply earlier than final week’s commerce deadline.

Nearly each time Durant tried to talk on Thursday, he was interrupted by cheers from followers overjoyed by the largest famous person arrival in Phoenix for the reason that Suns traded for Charles Barkley in 1992.

The two-time Finals MVP soaked within the applause, however stated he did not deserve it.

“I appreciate your warm welcome, but we’ve got work to do,” Durant stated.

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He later added: “I feel like I’ve still got to prove myself. I want to put good stuff on film every day. That’s the only thing I’m concerned with at this point in my life, is putting good stuff on film every night. I’m looking forward to doing that for Suns fans and hopefully they accept me after that.”

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The 34-year-old Durant continues to be taking part in at an elite degree, averaging practically 30 factors per recreation this season. He initially requested for a commerce final summer season and the Suns had been earlier than Durant patched issues up with Brooklyn. They lastly acquired him, lower than 24 hours earlier than the commerce deadline.

The Suns paid a hefty value, sending Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, and different draft compensation to the Nets. Bridges was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year whereas Johnson has developed into a flexible scorer.

Bridges, Johnson and Crowder had been all instrumental within the crew’s run to the Finals two years in the past, the place it misplaced to the Milwaukee Bucks in six video games.

Durant is recovering from a sprained knee ligament, and when he returns he’ll be part of a Phoenix lineup that abruptly might be the most effective within the Western Conference. He stated he hopes to be again quickly after the All-Star break.

Durant and Booker performed collectively on the U.S. crew that gained the gold medal on the Tokyo Olympics final yr.

“I think I’ve built my game around being efficient, taking good shots, making good plays on both ends of the floor,” Durant stated. “I think my defense feeds my offense. I like to take shots in the mid-range, I like to cut to the basket, I like to do the little things throughout the offense and I think that’s what makes you a versatile player and adapt to any offense.”

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The Suns had been on the upswing even earlier than Durant’s arrival. They struggled with accidents for many of the first half of the yr, however have gained 11 of their final 14 video games and entered Thursday fourth within the West at 32-27 — one-half recreation forward of the Los Angeles Clippers, their opponent Thursday night time.

Booker (groin) and Paul (hip) have each just lately returned.

Now the Suns are including one of many recreation’s most gifted scorers.

Phoenix has by no means gained an NBA championship, dropping within the finals in 1976, 1993 and 2021.

“That’s why we play the game of basketball,” Durant stated. “We understand that. But I’m more concerned about what we do every day as a team, what you guys don’t see. I think that’s what really brings championships.”

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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