Warriors' Kevin Durant would love to help NBA return to Seattle as owner

CLEVELAND -- Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant says he would like to own an NBA team when his playing career is finished, and he admits it would be a 'great story' if the team he ran brought the NBA back to Seattle.

"Hell yeah," Durant told ESPN following Wednesday night's 129-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. "Of course I would. No matter if it's Seattle or any team, just to help young men grow. Or help men in the next phase of their lives as basketball players. Why not? Especially somebody who's gone through it and been through just about everything as an NBA player, outside of getting traded, I've been through pretty much everything. I would love to give back to an organization, the knowledge that I've gained. So hell yeah I'd be interested."

In the wake of Seattle being awarded an expansion team by the NHL for the 2021-22 season on Tuesday, the topic of potential ownership in the Pacific Northwest came up again as the city continues the process of renovating KeyArena. Durant and the Warriors played a preseason game there in early October as the superstar forward received several standing ovations as he came back to the city that originally drafted him with the second pick in the 2007 draft.

Durant, who spent his rookie season as a member of the Seattle Supersonics before the team was sold and moved to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, wore an old Sonics Shawn Kemp jersey during pregame introductions before that preseason game and then gave a speech to the crowd about how he hoped basketball would return to the city soon.

"It's just the fact that I played there and I get so much love there," Durant said. "More than any city in the league probably. Look, it would be a great story. But it would be a lot of hard work, it won't be easy because it's Seattle. After the press release and the first couple of weeks it's straight to work. I know people want to tie me into Seattle a lot, and I love being part of that, but I'm not just waiting for that opportunity. Any opportunity that comes around where I could become [part of] an ownership group or a front office or anywhere I could just help the team as of right now in my life I would go for it, but who knows what will happen at the end of my career?"

Durant told ESPN in October that he was hopeful Seattle got another team soon.

"For sure," Durant said prior to the exhibition game. "Most definitely. It's a basketball city. It's a sports town. ... They have a good representation of basketball in the NBA from Seattle-born players, Washington state-born players. And I feel like that whole brand deserves an NBA team. Just like the Golden State Warriors deserve a team or the Los Angeles Lakers deserve a team, Seattle is that same way. [A team] has that same type of impact in the community. So [we have] a lot of time in life before this whole thing is over, and I'm sure we'll see a team before it's time."

The issue for Seattle in both the short and long term, as ESPN's Brian Windhorst wrote earlier this year, is that expansion does not appear to be on the NBA's radar anytime soon. The city is hoping that with the renovations to the arena in place, as well as the excitement surrounding the new NHL team, the NBA will look their way again when the time comes. For Durant, the opportunity to be part of a team on both the ownership level and the front office level is intriguing.

"I think the business side of it is obviously really fascinating to me," Durant said. "How you can market and brand a team, how you can make the fan experience better? How you can just inject and infuse energy into a city? Which can just kind of get the ball rolling, not just in basketball, but also around the whole state. I love how that is. But more so than anything, I love basketball, I love being around players, I love seeing different types of players, I love just seeing progression of a player. So it would be cool to be hands on with the group."

ESPN.com reported in January that "Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman have taken numerous meetings with existing owners and tech CEOs to learn the lay of the land."

Durant is hoping his next career step following what figures to be a Hall of Fame induction is to be able to call a team his own on the business level.