Having worked for the Golden State Warriors for two seasons as an assistant coach, Luke Walton is certainly happy to see his former team land a player as talented as seven-time All-Star Kevin Durant in free agency.
Even so, the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers was taken aback that Durant didn't elect to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had the Warriors right where they wanted them in the Western Conference finals.
"I was just surprised because they really had us on the ropes and that was a series that they probably should have won, being up 3-1. And they were just beating up on us," Walton said during a recent appearance on SI Now.
"And, I feel like when you get close to getting back to the finals, that would have been motivation to stay with that team."
Durant was drafted second overall by the Thunder organization in 2007, playing nine seasons with the team and leading them to one NBA Finals appearance. His decision concerned more than where he could make the most money, since that would have been Oklahoma City - the franchise possessed his Bird rights, resulting in an extra year and higher annual raises on a new contract.
Walton, meanwhile, would have had the opportunity to work for what may be an even more successful team than last year's 73-win roster. Instead, he signed a multi-year contract to join the Lakers and coach in the city where he competed for nine seasons and won two championships.