- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN.com
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LAS VEGAS -- Kevin Durant made a point not to ask his friend LeBron James any questions. He gets enough of those already. Besides, James answered just about every question asked of him with the letter he penned in Sports Illustrated, in which he explained his decision to leave the Miami Heat and come home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But Durant did reach out to congratulate James soon after he announced his decision.
"I thought it was well-thought-out. It was classy. It was a great move to do it as a letter," Durant said after a training camp session with USA Basketball on Tuesday. "That was pretty cool. It's funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making the decision that's best for them, instead of what's best for everybody else. He's a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it's going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland."
The two MVPs have developed a close friendship over the years. Durant famously joined James to train in Akron during the lockout in 2011, so he saw James' affection for his hometown firsthand.
Durant also has close ties to his hometown, Seat Pleasant, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. He began his MVP speech this spring with a reference to his home. "I come from a small county outside of Washington, D.C., called P.G. County," he said.
Asked Tuesday if he might make a similar homecoming when he can become a free agent in two years, Durant said that was too far in the future to discuss in a serious way right now.
"I'm going to do what's best for me," Durant said. "It's hard to talk about that right now when I've got two years left in Oklahoma City. I'm just going to focus on that. I'm not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does. I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It's in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too."
Still, the speculation is hard to escape. Durant said he went home this summer for a family reunion but didn't go out much. Asked if that was because he's constantly asked about coming back to the D.C. area someday, Durant smiled and laughed.
"Look, we going to put it out on tape," Durant said. "It's been talked about. Everybody's asked me about it every time I go on Instagram or Twitter. All my friends ask me about it. So I'm not going to sit here and act like I'm naïve to the fact that people think about that stuff. But I just tell everybody that I'm here in Oklahoma City, [and] I love it here. Who knows what will happen? I never close the door on anything. But I like where I'm at right now, so I can't answer that question."
Durant has two years remaining on the five-year, $86 million extension he signed with the Thunder in summer 2010. He deliberately committed to five years in Oklahoma City, without any early termination or player options, to demonstrate his commitment to the franchise and appreciation for the city.
Now, though, shorter contracts that allow more flexibility and leverage are in vogue for superstars such as James and Durant. Asked Tuesday why he gave up that flexibility in 2010, Durant said, "To be honest, I just didn't know. I was 21. I didn't know. Obviously, when you sign a deal, you want to have the best options for yourself, the best flexibility for yourself. But I loved Oklahoma City so much I just wanted to dedicate and show them that I'm all about the team."
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant congratulated LeBron James on his decision to return to Cleveland but says he's not sure if he'll play for his hometown Wizards when he becomes a free agent.