For the first time, Billy Donovan talked publicly about Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors this offseason.
Donovan coached Durant for just one season, joining the Thunder from Florida in the 2015 offseason.
"I don't know if I ever felt like he was going to necessarily come back, but I thought our meeting went very, very well," said Donovan. "I think Kevin on the front end was very, very, honest that when the season ended, he was going to go through this process and he was going to take a meeting with us, obviously, first. And then he was going to have some other teams he was going to meet with. And I think a little bit later on, after the season ended, they decided to do it out in The Hamptons.
"But I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball, we talked about our team, we talked about direction, we talked about obviously his leadership, his role, all those kind of things. I think leaving the meeting it was very, very positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides.
"But one thing I think with Kevin was going through nine years in the organization, he was at a point of time when he was allowed obviously to be a free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting. So obviously, I think being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process, things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind changed in terms of what he was evaluating."
Donovan was asked if getting over Durant's departure was different for him since he had only been there with him for one season.
"One of the things I did when I first came in that I thought was really important; there was so much of a story surrounding the fact that Kevin last year was hurt and he had missed 50-something games. Now he was getting himself back healthy. We had a chance to spend a lot of time last summer together because he was in OKC rehabbing his foot getting himself ready to play. And I talked to him a lot about the fact that I wanted to help him and our team get better and be the best version of ourselves and how could I bring value and help.
"But I didn't want to get involved in the free agency talk at all because, one, it really was not my place. I didn't have a relationship with Kevin at all. I obviously knew him as a player from afar but I didn't have a relationship to inject myself. So I really tried to do every single day is to focus on helping him and our team get better.
"The thing I thought Kevin did a great job of this year was the fact that everywhere we went to a lot of different marketplaces, there was always the question of 'Are you going to consider this team? Are you going to consider that team? Have you given this any thought?'
"I really appreciated for our team we were able to stay focused on our team, the season, the playoffs, without having the distraction. I thought Kevin handled it really, really well and was consistent all the way through."