KD likes Suns’ title chances: ‘Got all the pieces’

PHOENIX — Kevin Durant believes the Phoenix Suns have what it takes to finally win an NBA championship.

“I think we got all the pieces to be successful,” Durant said during a Thursday news conference, his first as a member of the Suns. “We got guys that have experienced what it’s like to play in that final round. We got a champion [Suns GM James Jones] already that’s overseeing us. Monty’s a champion as a coach. So we got guys that been there and that’s half the battle, just knowing what it takes.”

Durant’s formal introduction in Phoenix came one week after a deal between the Brooklyn Nets and Suns sent shockwaves throughout the NBA. Durant was acquired with veteran swingman T.J. Warren for a package that included Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and multiple future draft picks.

As Durant looked back on his time with the Nets, he reminisced about the limited number of games the superstar trio of himself, Kyrie Irving and James Harden was able to play together.

“We just didn’t get on the court enough,” Durant said. “I think when you seen James, Kyrie and myself, it was amazing basketball for [16] games, but in order for you to win a championship and be a great team, you just need more time on the floor.

“It’s another story about why we didn’t get on the floor together, but we just didn’t get enough time on the floor. And those are Hall of Fame players that I learned a lot from every day. I’m wishing them the best as well. It just didn’t work out.”

Durant, who was seated between Jones and new Suns owner Mat Ishbia, got emotional while discussing his time in Brooklyn.

“It was a lot of ups and downs, but I loved the grind,” Durant said. “And everybody in Brooklyn loved the grind, too, so I built a family over there. They’re going to always be part of my journey. So we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a championship, but I enjoyed the grind. And everybody there, we tried our hardest every day, regardless of what was going on in the media, or what was going on with our teammates.”

He added: “I get emotional talking about them because that was a special four years in my career, coming off an Achilles [injury]. They helped me through a lot, so I don’t have anything [bad to say].”

Durant said he ultimately pushed for a trade to Phoenix over the past week largely because Irving put in his own trade request to get out of Brooklyn. Durant acknowledged that Irving’s trade request “took away our identity” as a team.

“I was upset that we couldn’t finish,” Durant said. “I thought we had some good momentum. We were finally building a culture that we always wanted. I felt like every game we were building our chemistry, but I didn’t know what was going on with Kyrie and his situation with the organization, so I didn’t really focus on that. I only focused on what we were doing on the court, and it was a blow to our team. It just took away our identity. He was a huge, huge part to what we do. His game, he’s a Hall of Fame player, a great, great player, that can do everything on the floor and we relied on that.

“So without him we didn’t have a clear identity. So that was tough for me to stomach. I love playing with those guys throughout the year. I felt like we had dudes that were stepping up and doing stuff that they didn’t do on their previous teams. So I enjoyed everything about it — it was tough not finishing the season, but I just tried to move forward as quickly as I can and try to figure something out for myself, but also still focus on trying to rehab and get back. So it all happened so fast, but I’m glad it worked out this way.”

Durant was greeted by more than 3,000 fans seated inside Footprint Center as the news conference unfolded. Both signs and T-shirts welcoming him to Phoenix were dotted throughout the arena in an atmosphere that felt much more like a collegiate pep rally than a news conference.

The former MVP has been working out with the Suns over the past few days as he gets acclimated to his new basketball life in Phoenix, but it remains unclear when he’ll be able to return after the All-Star break as he continues rehabbing an MCL injury in his right knee suffered on Jan. 8.

Williams said before Tuesday’s 120-109 win over the Sacramento Kings that while Durant is doing “great” in his rehab he still hasn’t participated in any 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 scrimmaging.

The news of Durant’s arrival has brought a huge wave of excitement not only to the Suns organization, but throughout the Phoenix area. Durant smiled and acknowledged the crowd during Thursday’s proceedings while speaking about the bright future he sees with the Suns.

“They experienced a lot the last couple years,” Durant said of his decision to push for a deal to Phoenix. “You see the growth in this team. When Monty took over, when James came here, I see the culture start to change, the way they played on the floor. The energy they played with started to change, and I always loved playing here in Phoenix. … I knew this would be a great place to play and a great place to continue to get better as a player. You got somebody like Devin [Booker] and Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, guys that work. And I wanted to be part of that, so I’m excited I’m here.”

Durant received several nice ovations after being introduced on the video board during Tuesday’s game and has been warmly embraced by his new teammates, many of whom still can’t believe Durant will be playing on their team.

“It’s different,” Paul told ESPN recently. “It’s taken some getting used to. I was telling [Booker] the other day, I played with a lot of great players — I got a chance to play with Blake [Griffin], I got a chance to play with David West early in my career, I played with James [Harden] — [but] probably never two guys of this caliber, as far as Devin and KD. … I know I’m not taking it for granted. I told [Booker] not to.”

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