Published July 12, 2011
TIANJIN, China – Kevin Durant isn't ruling out playing basketball abroad next season if the NBA lockout isn't resolved.
The Oklahoma City Thunder forward said Tuesday during a promotional tour in China that he thinks more players will follow Deron Williams' example and play overseas if the NBA season is disrupted. Williams has said he will play for Besiktas in Turkey if the lockout remains.
"We'll see, I would like to try something new," Durant said. "But of course, my first option is playing in the NBA. So now I want to see how this lockout goes."
He said he's still hopeful that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached.
"If not, I will make a decision on where I am going to play basketball," said Durant, who added he's in no hurry to make a decision. "I am going to take it slow, everybody's going to wait to see how this plays out. D-Will, you know, he made his decision quick and I am sure you are going to see a lot of guys kind of follow his footsteps. So, he's very brave to be the first guy to do it."
Durant said it has been an honor to play Yao, who is expected to announce July 20 that he's retiring from the NBA after nine seasons because of leg and foot injuries. The 30-year-old Yao has missed 250 regular-season games over the past six seasons.
"Tough, man, tough to see a great player and a great competitor like Yao Ming leave the game after being injured a few years," Durant said. "As a player, you come into the league, the first thing somebody asks you is what you want to do when you get here, and a lot of players say, 'I want to dunk over Yao Ming.' So you can tell how much impact he has in the game.
"He comes in, he works every day and you can tell that he's never in trouble and he sets such a good example for the players coming into the league."
Asked if he thought Yao should have a place in the basketball Hall of Fame, Durant said the Chinese player deserves the honor.
"It was exciting to watch such a tall guy but that can shoot the basketball and put so much pressure on your defense by playing down low, and also his defense, too," Durant said. "He does so much for the game, and he does deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. He's so dominant in the game, and he changed the game by him just running up and down the floor."
Yao boosted the popularity of the basketball league in China and throughout Asia, spiking merchandise sales and TV ratings for games after the Rockets made him the top overall pick in the 2002 draft.