The Thunder had some concern when Kevin Durant hired Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency, but the team and Roc Nation have developed a “positive” and “constructive” working relationship, and those initial concerns have dissipated, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, citing sources. Oklahoma City will base its pitch to Durant in free agency this summer on the the youth of its roster, its track record of spending this season and last, its ability to keep spending and the presence of coach Billy Donovan, as Windhorst details. The Thunder have learned from the mistakes the Cavs made in 2010 as they unsuccessfully tried to keep LeBron James from departing a team that was aging and largely without financial flexibility, and the Oklahoma City organization doesn’t overreact to incremental developments or discouraging rumors, Windhorst explains. While we wait to find out just what happens when Durant hits free agency in six and a half months, see more from around the Association:
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr hopes to return from his leave of absence within two to three weeks, he said Wednesday, according to Janie McCauley of The Associated Press. Kerr attended practice Monday and Tuesday and the team’s shootaround Wednesday, McCauley notes.
- Interim coach Luke Walton figured there was no way Kerr would miss opening night and thought his leave, which began October 1st, would last only a couple of weeks, writes Lee Jenkins of SI.com in a piece that delves into Walton’s background to find explanation for why he’s been so successful with the Warriors this season.
- The Cavs and Jazz have a general reputation as the teams that players least want to play for, J.R. Smith tells of Devin Friedman of GQ.com, admitting he was “petrified” to go to Cleveland when the Knicks traded him there in January. He’s warmed to what he calls an underestimated city since then, re-signing with the Cavs this summer and falling in line with the team’s all-business, no-party approach, as Friedman details. Smith also told Friedman he endures racial slurs from fans when he plays in Utah, joked about marijuana use, and called China, where he played in 2011/12 the “worst place I’ve ever been in my life.”