The Thunder know Kevin Durant is irreplaceable, but they also know life goes on in the NBA.
Speculation surrounding Durant's future was put to an end Monday with the 2014 MVP opting to join the Warriors, who defeated Durant and the Thunder en route to the NBA Finals, where they up came one win short of repeating as NBA champions. And though his departure hurts a lot — videos of Thunder fans burning Durant's jerseys populated social media Monday — general manager Sam Presti called for calm.
"Kevin has earned the right to make a decision that's best for him," Presti told reporters in a news conference Monday afternoon. "We have to be truly grateful for what he represented for the Thunder and also for the city and the community. He gave back with his time, he gave back with his dollars, and we need to recognize that. We need to honor that."
Durant, 27, played nine seasons for the Thunder franchise and eight in Oklahoma City following the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics. He made 641 appearances for the franchise, scoring 17,566 points (27.4 per game) after being taken with the second pick in the 2007 draft. He guided the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals, won the NBA scoring championship four times and earned seven All-Star selections.
And while life also goes on without Serge Ibaka, who was traded to the Magic on draft night, Thunder coach Billy Donovan and Co. look ahead to a future with Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rookie Domantas Sabonis.
"I would say that Billy — and this is one of the reasons why I think Billy is so good — Billy is able to work with and create options on the floor based on who he has to work with. He's really, really masterful at that," Presti said. "If I know him, which I do, he's probably already thinking and has already thought about style of play, things that we have to do differently. As I said before, you don't replace Kevin Durant. He had the ball in his hands half the quarter probably. And that's going to have to be an adjustment.