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Kevin Durant, Monty Williams speak about Durant's expected debut for Phoenix Suns vs. Hornets tonight

The Suns announced the move Tuesday, which would see Durant play for the first time since injuring his knee on January 8

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's the news fans of the Phoenix Suns have been waiting for since news broke that the Suns had traded for Kevin Durant on February 9: the 13-time NBA All-Star will suit up for the 1st time as a Sun on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets. 

The Suns confirmed the move in a tweet Tuesday and Durant and head coach Monty Williams spoke about Durant's debut during practice at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, this afternoon. 

"I feel great," Durant said. "I've been looking forward to getting this opportunity to play again. And it's been a long time. I was having fun out there before I got injured. So, looking forward to going out there and picking up where I left off. It'll take me some time to get used to everything early on. But as far as just having fun and just getting lost in the game and looking forward to doing that again." 

Durant has not played since injuring his MCL on January 8 when he was still a member of the Brooklyn Nets. Durant has missed five games since the trade as he finished rehab and says the key to him feeling ready was practicing with the Suns.  

"(I felt ready) once I got another session of just playing, just getting physical play against some of the guys," Durant said. "I wanted to get a few sessions of that before I could just throw myself out there. I haven't felt pain in my knee in a couple of weeks, but it's just a matter of just ramping my body up and getting used to that bump and grind or just playing the game again, just playing against defenders again, you know, so I needed that under my belt and I'm glad I got it." 

The excitement in the Valley to see Durant as a Sun has been palpable. More than a thousand fans attended his introductory press conference at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix two weeks ago, and head coach Monty Williams says he understands the excitement. 

"You just want to see him out there with the team," Williams said. "There's excitement, there's all the stuff that goes with it. But for me, it's allowing him to blend and figure out things we do, but also learn from him. Based on his skill set, experience, and IQ of the game, I think it's a great opportunity for us to grow. And the most important thing is to win the game. And I think that's what we're all trying to figure out with winning the game at the highest level and doing the things that help us win games, but also understanding who he is and how to implement what he does. as smoothly as we can." 

Williams added that Durant will be on a minutes restriction Wednesday night against Charlotte, but no matter how many minutes he plays, Durant knows he can bring something special to the Suns. 

"Just my versatility, I know that can help me in a lot of different areas on both ends of the court; being able to shoot the ball in different areas of the floor can help me even if I might not know every small subtlety in a play," Durant said. "I can still try to figure it out, you know, just about movement and stuff. And you know, the guys have been great at integrating me in all the sets and had a long practice so we could figure some stuff out. So it's been fun."   

Williams added that all of the time Durant has spent practicing has allowed him to have conversations on the court that have helped him understand how Durant plays, how best to utilize him moving forward, and how to integrate Durant into their systems. But Williams has no expectations for Durant's first game as a Sun. 

"I don't have like an expectation other than us playing hard executing and doing everything we can to win the game," Williams said. "As far as integrating Kevin, I think there's gonna be times where there may be hiccups or things like that. But that happens in a normal game. So I don't think that's something that's it should be surprising." 

Williams also added that Durant's practice time has been the key to Durant feeling confident enough to play Wednesday night. 

"He's one of the few players I've been around that likes to practice; most guys don't like practicing," Williams said. "So there's a reason why he's as good as he is. But two, we've hit them with a lot, the new guys that have come in, and we've had enough time to break down stuff, talk about why we do it, look at the film, and show them what works, what doesn't work. And they listen. And you can't do that if you're not in the gym." 

Suns center Deandre Ayton recently commented that he couldn't believe how much time Durant has spent in the gym since becoming a Sun. Durant says that was just him trying to get back on the court. 

"I was just going through my routine," Durant said. "I was injured. I'm there a little earlier than guys, I'm staying a little later, and stuff that I would not do if I wasn't injured, I'm doing now. So that's probably what you see. But once the games start and I start playing and get a routine, everything will get back to normal, then they'll see a different routine, you know, so it's just all about adapting and figuring out what's best for me."   

Tip-off between the Suns and Hornets is at 5 p.m. Arizona time Wednesday. 

The Suns' next home game, Durant's first home game as a Sun, is a week from Wednesday, March 8, against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  

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