Kevin Durant: I'd want to play with a guy like Kobe Bryant every day

Kevin Durant: I'd want to play with a guy like Kobe Bryant every day
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant operates against the Lakers' Kobe Bryant during a game at Staples Center on Jan. 11, 2013. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers are still searching for the heir apparent to All-Star guard Kobe Bryant.

When the NBA's current most valuable player award winner, Kevin Durant, forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, possibly becomes a free agent after the 2015-16 season, the Lakers are certain to be one of his many suitors.

Would Durant have interest, perhaps, in playing alongside Bryant or is he turned off by Bryant's uber-competitiveness, as some others allegedly have?

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday night in Sacramento, Durant said that notion was garbage. "I want to play with a winner every single night, especially somebody who wants to win that bad, who works that hard, who demands a lot, who raises up your level. I'd want to play with a guy like that every day.


"[His style] may make people uncomfortable, how he acts and just how he approaches the game, but I love that type of stuff. I think [the accusation] is BS."

One report recently claimed that a number of players, including Dwight Howard, Paul George and Ramon Sessions, were all turned off by the idea of playing with Bryant.

The latter two have since denied expressing that sentiment.

What is it about Bryant that specifically appeals to Durant?

"Just his work ethic, just his demeanor, man," said Durant. "He doesn't mind being [a jerk], and he comes to work, man. He's intense. He demands a lot out of his teammates, and I've seen that just playing alongside him in the Olympics."

Bryant and Durant played together on the U.S. team in 2012, winning the gold in London.

"He demands a lot out of everybody. He makes them better, everybody out on the court. You've got to respect that," Durant said. "As a player, I study guys like that. We might not have the same personality, but I think we approach the game the same way and I've learned a lot from just watching him."

Bryant is under contract for just one more season. He might consider returning, for the right price, to help lure Durant to the Lakers.

If so, Bryant would presumably need to re-sign for less than the $25 million he'll earn next year.

The NBA salary cap is expected to rise substantially in 2016 with the league's new national television contract kicking in.

If Durant is interested in leaving Oklahoma City, the Lakers may be able to field a team with more than one maximum-salaried player.

The challenge for the team is getting those commitments.

The Lakers (8-17) have a relatively thin talent base, compared with most of the NBA. If the team's first 2015 draft pick falls outside of the top five, it will be conveyed to the Phoenix Suns as part of the ill-fated Steve Nash trade.

Durant remains a long shot to join the Lakers, but his fondness for Bryant may help renew the team's hopes to land one of the top talents in the NBA.

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.