Stephen A. Smith Claims Kevin Durant Is a 'Problem' in Phoenix, Not Happy With Suns

Durant arrived in Arizona at the 2023 trade deadline.
Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant / Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Change came swiftly to the Phoenix Suns following their first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Head coach Frank Vogel was fired after only one season of a five-year, $31 million deal. Mike Budenholzer was quickly hired (at an even higher salary) to replace him. The Suns might not be done, either.

Ever since their season ended, it feels as though each day brings another unflattering detail that sheds more light on why the team failed to reach their potential. The first of those details emerged literally hours after the Wolves won Game 4 to slam the door shut in the form of a Shams Charania exposé on The Athletic, which was not at all kind to Vogel and suggested he held no respect in the locker room.

Charania's report also revealed that Kevin Durant, in particular, was not always content with his role in Vogel's offense. That leads us into today's episode of First Take, in which Stephen A. Smith was asked to discuss Michael Wilbon ripping the Suns' problems as impossible to fix late last week.

Smith stated that everybody in the NBA knows Durant is a "problem" in Phoenix and is actually "never happy" with the Suns. Furthermore, Smith said Durant went a full month without talking to Vogel at some point last season.

"Here's where Mike Wilbon didn't go into the details that all of us covering the NBA are fully aware of: Kevin Durant, in Phoenix, is a problem," Smith said. "It is a problem. You don't see it because the stats are there. Him and (Devin) Booker averaging 27 points a game and what have you. But they say Kevin Durant is never happy. They say he went more than a month without even talking to the head coach. They say he doesn't look happy there and all he wants to do is play when the game starts and tip-off arrives. But when it comes to ingratiating yourself with your teammates and getting along with everybody and stuff like that, he just lives in his own world."

It would be quite a problem for the Suns if Durant were as unhappy as he appears. The superstar scorer has two years remaining on his five-year max contract and will be 36 years old when next season begins. There would surely be interest if he demanded a trade or Phoenix tried to move him, but the franchise gave up four unprotected first round picks and another first round pick swap to land Durant. No team will be giving up that sort of haul for this version of KD, who is still an amazing player but can't carry a team to a championship anymore. Which means the Suns are far better off keeping Durant around, but if he asks out, they don't have much choice in the matter.

That may be getting ahead of the skis, though. Durant could very well be unhappy with how the season went, but from the sounds of it, so was everybody else. The Suns took steps to address the general discontent by replacing Vogel with Budenholzer, who knows how to win games in large quantities. And winning, as they say, cures all.

Those seeing this report and expecting summertime action in Phoenix will likely end up disappointed. But certainly it's something to keep an eye on.

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Liam McKeone


Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.