Thunder small forward Kevin Durant, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, sees some parallels between himself and Mavs big man Dirk Nowitzki regarding their importance to their respective franchises, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman relays. “Dirk has been a model of how you should handle things,” Durant said. “I’m just trying to do things my way as well. There’s a lot that comes with it. Dirk has handled it about as good as anybody’s ever handled it in this league. I try to learn from guys like him, Kobe Bryant. From everybody that’s been in that position, handling the situation as being a franchise guy.”
Durant did note that he has had an advantage over Nowitzki with the presence of teammate Russell Westbrook on the roster, Tramel adds. “The good thing about it here, I’m not the only guy,” Durant said. “Having Russell Westbrook along with me, that’s been with me along the way, to have another guy with you going through it and being able to kind of relate to the same things, it helps. I’m not here by myself. The organization’s been great, Russell has been more of a teammate than I could ask for over these last nine years. It’s not just myself.”
While Oklahoma City’s fan base hopes that Durant remains as loyal to the Thunder as Nowitzki has been to Dallas, here’s more from out West:
- The Kings are closing in on hiring Pistons executive Ken Catanella as their new assistant GM, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports. Catanella has been with Detroit since being named director of basketball operations in December of 2011, and he was promoted to assistant GM in 2014/15. He and George David were jointly in charge of the Pistons front office during the brief period between the tenures of Joe Dumars and Stan Van Gundy in 2014.
- The Mavericks will seek to add a center this offseason but still consider JaVale McGee a part of their future plans, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t want to leave out JaVale McGee,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He came to us as a guy who was recovering from a very serious [leg] injury. And his deal is a two-year deal and we felt it was going to take two years to get back to being completely healthy and the player he completely was. He’s regained his health, regained his footing and he and Salah Mejri right now are the two centers we have. We’ll certainly look to add somebody else. But we’re going to be looking at those two guys as very important.”
- Suns point guard Ronnie Price, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, said he wants to remain in Phoenix and that he and his teammates need to stay close over the summer to improve team chemistry, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “It’s a mutual responsibility for all of us to stay linked in and just stay connected,” said Price. “We talk about being a family and we’ve made great strides. We can’t make those strides and then, in the summer, be like, ‘See you next August.’ We have to stay connected and continue to build so then, when the season gets here, we’re ahead of the game.”