ORLANDO -- It's hard to keep Kevin Durant away from the gym. And with two days off in his rehab process to get back on the floor himself, he traveled to Orlando to watch the Thunder compete in summer league.
Durant, who played in only 27 games last season, spoke with reporters for 10 minutes prior to the Thunder taking on the Charlotte Hornets, talking about where he's at in his recovery, what the past year has been like for him, the craziness of free agency this summer and his team's new coaching staff.
Do you have an update on your foot and where's it at now?
"We're close to Phase 3 now. There's three phases in the rehab. It's going well. I'm shooting, jumping when I'm shooting, not quite running and cutting yet, but I'm almost there. It's going well. I'm excited."
Still on track to be back in August?
"Looking like it. We're doing X-rays every two weeks and it's looking good. So I'm excited to get back, man. There's no pain and looking forward to getting back."
You've never really had to ever take time, so I bet these last few months have been difficult, right?
"It was tough, it was tough. But it's all part of the journey I'm on, man. I'm just going to continue to stay positive and keep working hard and everything will work out."
How'd you deal with the playoffs? Did you watch them?
"I said I wasn't going to watch them, but I did. I just couldn't stay away from that atmosphere. It was amazing basketball to watch. So many great players and teams. Golden State and Cleveland made for a great final matchup. It was fun to watch, but it was stressful because I obviously wanted to be there. But it was fun to see that environment again and feel it again and I can't wait to, hopefully, next year be in the same environment."
Did it inspire you at all?
"Yeah, it did. I just wanted to stay locked in and focus on my rehab and I know in order for me to get back on the court I have to do that. It just made me go harder in that aspect of it but it was fun basketball to watch, though."
You look bigger. Have you put on some weight?
"Yeah, I think I gotta lose some weight to be honest. But I've been putting in a lot of work in the weight room. I haven't moved at all for 12 or 13 weeks, so last week was really the first time I've got on the court and dropped some sweat. I've just been working out in the weight room and eating and just resting up, so like I said, last week was really the first time I got on the court."
Last year was obviously a tough spot for you. Are you in a better place mentally now?
"It was really tough. Looking back on it now, there's a lot of stuff I would've changed but it was necessary to go through what I had to go through, mentally, and I'm in a great space right now. Maybe because I'm closer and closer to playing again but I'm in a great space."
What you mean, what would you have changed?
"Just stuff I said. Sometimes I let a lot of stuff bother me that I shouldn't have. I read a lot of stuff that I probably shouldn't have. Lesson learned for me. Trial and error. It is what it is, man. I'm just trying to continue focusing on getting better and rehabbing and killing that part of this journey and hopefully getting ready for next season."
Seeing what's happened the past few days, has the West gotten tougher?
"West is always tough. It just feels like if you move from team to team in the West, it's like a seesaw almost. Teams are adding players, dropping players, adding new guys. It's a fun time to be in the NBA. You see all these moves in the NBA, guys getting opportunities to take care of their families by getting these big contracts. It's beautiful to see."
Were you surprised to see LaMarcus Aldridge move?
"No, I wasn't. You could kind of tell once this whole thing started that he was trying to go somewhere else. But in those decisions, man, you've just got to respect the guy for making a decision that was right for him. I know a lot of fans were probably upset in Portland with the decision. But at this point of your life and your career, you've got to focus on you. I said this last year when Mr. James made his decision, it was pretty cool to see a guy do what he wants to do and not worry about what everybody thinks."
When you see all the attention LaMarcus and DeAndre [Jordan] have gotten the past few days, have you thought at all about next summer and yourself?
"No I haven't thought about it. I hear it all the time but I really am just focusing on rehab. I can't get there unless I take care of today. That's the way I look at it even though I hear it from every side, thinking past to next summer. But I'm not even trying to focus on that. I'm excited about our team, our new coaches and just trying to get back right."
Are you specifically in Orlando for rehab or just to be around the coaching staff?
"I've been in OKC since the season ended, since I had surgery. These are my two off days so I just tried to get out and see some basketball, check out the guys. But I've been in OKC. Actually, Coach [Donovan] has been working me out this past week so it's pretty cool to have your head coach on the floor with you and putting in work with you. It's like he's been on this journey with me since he got in and that's making us closer. And we've got Monty Williams and Anthony Grant and Mo Cheeks back, so it's been fun being around them this summer and I just came to [lend] support."
What kind of impact will the assistants have, having Mo Cheeks back and adding Monty Williams?
"First of all, we know Mo. He's been with us for so long, we've been through everything with him. Monty Williams is just a stand-up guy. I love him already. Just a great teacher of the game, great with people, so we're excited to have them both."
Are you starting to get a sense of what your team is going to look like on the floor?
"Yeah, I'm just trying to soak in as much information as possible on how we're going to play offensively and defensively. What coach needs me to do as a leader, just everything. Just trying to learn, observe. I've been around for summer league practices and I know it's a little different but just seeing how coach approaches practice, I'm just trying to learn as much as I can and get ready for camp."
Is next year going to be hard for you, with all the questions about your future?
"Man, this is the toughest year I've ever been through in my life, as far as basketball is concerned. Just to be back on the floor, all that other stuff doesn't really matter to me. Everything, all that stuff, from distractions to that type of stuff really don't matter because I get to do something I love and I can't wait to get back out there and be fully cleared to play, but to be honest man, my main thing is just getting rid of distractions no matter what and focusing on what I have to do. I just can't wait to play the game I love again, that's all I'm focused on."
Are there things you can take away as positives about this whole rehab process and things you've learned about yourself?
"I'm just trying to be more focused on what makes me happy as a man, first. But also being a good brother, being a good son, being a good teammate, being coachable. Just focusing on things that I may struggle with. Trying to look myself in the mirror more than anything. Because late nights, you've got to face yourself during those late nights. When I couldn't move, I couldn't get up and drive anywhere. I had to sit on my coach and figure out how's it going to be next season and how I'm going to change. I'm just trying to stay in a good space mentally and not let any distractions take over and be the best player I can be."
Who helped motivate you while you were out injured? You said those times were where you couldn't play. Were there any other players, teammates that reached out?
"A lot of guys checked on me. Obviously my teammates were always there for me. Kendrick Perkins used to call me like every day. He put me on the phone with LeBron and we talked. Everybody, CP, they showed me a lot of love. I saw a bunch of guys last week at the Nike camp, and they always ask me how I'm going. So it's cool to know that brotherhood of NBA players, they know what I've been through and they understand and they appreciate the grind. It's cool to have that support."
How much of those things you talked about, discovering things about yourself, do you need to translate to your teammates?
"I think I know my teammates, but just getting to know them deeper. Just knowing how to handle different situations and knowing how to talk to guys. Not looking at just the bad and trying to focus on the good of everything, from everybody on our team. Just trying to get to know every single guy. I don't think I've done a great job of that so far since I've been in the league. I thought I did, but looking at myself, I could be a better teammate, a better friend to my teammates. I learned that. That's how I look at this last year as a blessing in disguise. I learned a lot about myself and my team that could help. I know there's going to be ups and downs and I'll have my good and bad days but I just try to limit the bad ones and be the best teammate and person I can be."