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Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Debut Delayed

Kevin Durant introduced as a member of the Phoenix Suns | Image by USA Today Sports

Phoenix Suns fans will have to wait for the 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant to make his team debut.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Durant’s initially scheduled debut has been delayed. The forward was expected to debut on Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team with whom Durant spent the first nine years of his NBA career.

Instead, Durant is expected to debut on March 1 against the Charlotte Hornets.

Durant is recovering from an MCL sprain he suffered last month while playing for the Brooklyn Nets.

Phoenix traded for him on February 8, less than 24 hours before the league’s annual trade deadline. The Suns sent forwards Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, and Cameron Johnson, along with multiple first-round picks to Brooklyn in the deal for Durant and T.J. Warren.

“I truly don’t think I deserve this because, I know I’ve done a lot of good things in basketball, but I haven’t done them yet in a Suns jersey,” Durant said as he addressed the fans present at an introductory press conference last week.

“I’m looking forward to doing it. I want to go out there and be the most I can be and be the best that I can be every day for you guys. I appreciate the warm welcome, but I got more work to do.”

The move came just a day after new owner Mat Ishbia was approved as the team’s new governor.

Ishbia has made it well-known that he is fearless in spending what it takes to build a winner, moving into the league’s luxury tax after acquiring Durant while also keeping the long-term and short-term goals of the franchise in mind.

“The way we look at it is, how do we improve our team?” Ishbia told reporters, according to ESPN.

“I’m not going to be sitting here counting the dollars. We’re going to focus on, how do we improve our team? If there’s a way to improve our team, we’re going to look at doing it. We’re not going to sacrifice long term or short term, but we are going to try to win every game.”

“I’m not just a short-term thinker,” he continued. “I’m also a long-term thinker. I’m going to be here for 40, 50 years. … I’m going to be here a long time. I know you can’t win every single day, but we’re going to try.”

Ishbia then elaborated on the trade while talking to Sports Illustrated.

“All these conversations, we had them for hours and hours and hours in a room talking about it and getting everyone’s perspective,” he told SI.

“And [president of Basketball Operations and general manager] James [Jones] obviously is the leader of that and knows it better than I could ever know it. And so I give him a lot of the credit. The financial piece was five seconds. They know I’m ready. That doesn’t bother me. Now let’s talk about ‘is this the right thing for the Phoenix Suns organization?’ And I think we quickly figured out that it was.”

Phoenix is 32-28 this season and in fifth place in the Western Conference, one game better than the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas eliminated the Suns from last season’s playoffs in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Phoenix plays two games before March 1: Friday against the Thunder at home and Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks on the road.

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