The Thunder‘s presentation when they courted Billy Donovan this past spring centered on organizational structure rather than basketball, and his relationship with GM Sam Presti helped convince Donovan to leave the University of Florida, as USA Today’s Sam Amick examines. Kevin Durant has been impressed so far, as the soon-to-be free agent said to Amick, though Donovan made his decision independent of the former MVP’s looming choice. “I never looked at it as, ‘Well, geesh, I may not [have Durant long-term],’ or like I need any assurances,” Donovan said. “Everybody has got their own decision to make, like I had to make a decision about coming here. Kevin at the end will have his own decision, but I feel like my job right now is to do the best I can to help Kevin and the rest of the team. So I never really factored that in.”
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio says the return of Kevin Garnett to Minnesota last season altered the franchise for the better, Britt Robson of MinnPost.com writes. “He changed the culture over here. It is something that I have been so excited to see. A guy who is 20 years in the league, 40 years old, comes two hours before practice and gets some shots up and does some extra work,” said Rubio. “Now everybody does the same. I used to do the same. I know your body got to rest sometimes, but it is something that, when you are home, you are thinking, “KG is on his way to the arena” and I am just having breakfast at home or whatever. And you feel bad. You feel like, ‘I should be there.’ And that — little things, little details change the culture from a normal team to a winning team. Because the line from winning and losing is so thin, that people don’t realize what it takes to win. There are so many little details that something that small can change a big thing at the end.“
- Coach Michael Malone places much of the blame for the Nuggets‘ early season woes on himself, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “We’re not mentally tough enough to withstand a run and counter with our own,” Malone said. “We can do it in short stretches but sooner or later that levee is going to break and we’re not handling it like we need to. And, again, I’m going to put it on me. As the head coach of this team, I must do a better job. Whether it’s finding five guys who are going to play the right way, whether it’s helping us offensively, helping us defensively, it’s my job to help this team a lot more than I’ve been doing lately.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.