Durant's Thoughts on Kyrie Trade: ‘When You're Around LeBron James…'

On Tuesday, the Cavs traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.

On Thursday, Kevin Durant joined The Bill Simmons Podcast to discuss the blockbuster deal.

"Kyrie is just a pure basketball player," Durant started. "He crafted his skill since he was like eight, nine years old. You can just tell, the way he plays, nobody plays like him ... he probably played playground ball, his pops probably took him to the roughest neighborhoods and threw him out there on the basketball court, told him to just go play. So he built up the love for the game.

"When you're around LeBron James, there's so much that comes with that -- outside distractions and conversations and just noise that just comes around from being around LeBron James. And Kyrie was at the point, like, 'All right, we lost the championship, this whole season's gonna be about if LeBron's gonna leave or not. I'm ready for a new challenge.'

"All that stuff kind of met at the pinnacle of why he wanted to leave, and it just felt like he just wanted a situation where he would just be free from all of that and just play."

Durant can identify with Kyrie's situation.

"When you just love to play the game, the NBA kind of adds so much baggage on top of it from the business side to the media, just to like everything," he added. "And when you just wanna play and not worry about that stuff, you try to find a place where you can do that.

"And Kyrie, I'm sure he had to know that he was going to Boston. He wasn't blindsided at all. I'm sure he was OK with going to Boston and wanting to go to Boston."

Kyrie reportedly requested a trade on July 7, but the news of his request did not surface until July 21.

On July 18, Kyrie told Sports Illustrated the Cavs are "in a very peculiar place." (this quote all makes sense now)

LeBron will make $33,285,709 in 2017-18 and he has a player option of about $35.6 million for 2018-19.

And to Durant's point, speculation about LeBron's future in Cleveland has already begun.

During the 2015-16 season, Durant's future with the Thunder was frequently discussed -- particularly after the report surfaced that the Warriors were the "significant frontrunners" to land him should he decide to leave Oklahoma City.

"You wanna have a good environment where you wanna play as far as, you want some type of structure, you wanna learn the game at a different level, you wanna kind of challenge yourself to fit in with a team and use your skill set a different way," Durant said. "Kyrie reminds me of myself, just from the outside looking in.

"I may be wrong on all these things, but from the outside looking in, being around him for a month or so, he reminds me of myself as far as just loving to play the game, just wanting to learn it and try to get better at it every day. I can feel that, I can sense that in him."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

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