We've rounded up a few links on Dwight Howard tonight. Peter May of Sheridan Hoops explains why it wouldn't make sense for him to choose a return to the Lakers over a chance to join the Rockets. Marcus Thompson II of Mercury News - going off of the speculation linking Dwight to the Warriors - lists some of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of Golden State being able to acquire him. Tim Cowlishaw of SportsDayDFW thinks that the Mavericks will finish fourth behind the Hawks, Houston, and Los Angeles in the sweepstakes for Howard, adding that Dallas has little else to offer aside from no state income tax. Here are a few more links to share out of the Western Conference:
- On an appearance with Fitzsimmons and Durrett on KESN-FM, ESPN's Chad Ford explained why the Mavericks could have some issues in trying to deal their 13th overall pick. With a draft pick owed to Oklahoma City next year, Dallas can't technically deal their pick until draft night and would have to select a player for a team that they've made a prearranged deal with. Only until after they've drafted a player would they be able to trade his rights in order to get around the NBA rule that prohibits teams from trading a first-round pick in consecutive seasons (hat tip goes to SportsDayDFW). Though it is a strategy that Ford disagrees with, he admits that the pick will likely be moved.
- Later in the interview, Ford spoke about Dallas' chances of adding Dwight, saying that he's more available to them than Chris Paul at this point. He also said that their pitch could also depend on whether or not they can make the team attractive enough to make Howard believe it will contend, and that Houston looks further along in the process in that respect.
- Completely focusing on the situation between Howard and the Lakers heading into the summer, Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld says that the big man just wants to enjoy the game again and that it will be up to the team to convince him that he can do so in Los Angeles. Kyler reiterates that Brooklyn had been Howard's initial choice and that L.A. had been someone else's preference (Twitter links).
- As for Pau Gasol, Kyler predicted that the Lakers will keep him, let his deal expire, and then re-sign him to a cheaper deal, also mentioning that he doesn't think they'd trade him without knowing what happens with Dwight first.
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee hears that the NBA Board of Governors will take a formal vote on the Kings sale between the Maloofs and the Ranadive-led group on Tuesday next week (Twitter link).
- Though there appeared to be some disagreements on the Grizzlies' practice court with regards to making adjustments against the Spurs, Matt Moore of CBS Sports says that there weren't any indications that the players were upset or angry with each other or coach Lionel Hollins and chalks it up to any normal frustration from a team being down 2-0 in the playoffs. Though I wouldn't think that Hollins' future in Memphis is exclusively determined by whether or not he gets the team past the conference finals, it will be intriguing to see if the way they finish the postseason factors into the team's decision on potentially offering him an extension.
- Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK gave Kevin Durant his season report card, listing that while he had his best season to date, his good-but-not-great playmaking, the instances where he lacked poise, and his propensity to turn the ball over were reasons why the Thunder superstar didn't earn straight A's this year. To Durant's credit, Mayberry explains why his playoff struggles in recent years may make the 6'9 wingman more determined than ever next season. Lastly, a few of The Oklahoman's staff writers provide their take on Durant's season.
A few notes from around the NBA's Northwest Division:
- The Oregonian's John Canzano gives his take on the Trail Blazers situation compared to that of the Seattle Seahawks. Both franchises are owned by Paul Allen, and in light of yesterday's big news that the football team had made a big splash by trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin, Canzano argues that in order for the basketball team to make similar high-impact moves, Blazers GM Neil Olshey needs to gain Allen's trust.
- Jazz guard Travis Leslie hopes he'll get to stay with the team past his 10-day contract, writes The Salt Lake Tribune's Bill Oram.
- The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry has quotes from Kevin Durant on his poor shooting performance last night against the Spurs.
Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld has a new column examining which teams have a chance to be title contenders five seasons from now, taking into account possible moves in free agency and the ages of the teams' core players.
- Brigham believes the Thunder still have the brightest future, given that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka will all be under 30 in five seasons.
- LeBron James' free agency will play a major role in determining the next title contender, Brigham writes. The health and effectiveness of Dwyane Wade will determine whether James stays with the Heat, but the Cavaliers and Lakers are also possible destinations.
- On that note, Brigham writes that, although Kyrie Irving is blossoming into a superstar, the Cavs will not be a contender unless James signs in Cleveland.
- The Bulls will still be contenders if Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah stay healthy, Brigham writes. He also notes that Nikola Mirotic will have come over to the NBA by then.
- The trade for Thomas Robinson added another young piece to the James Harden/Jeremy Lin core the Rockets have built, Brigham writes. Additionally, the team is still well under the cap and can add another high-level player via free agency.
- Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge give the Blazers a solid core to build around, writes Brigham.
- Brigham writes that there will be uncertainty every year for the next five as to whether Chris Paul will still be with the Clippers.
- Even if Stephen Curry's ankles don't hold up, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes give the Warriors a good young core, Brigham says.
- Brigham writes that the Pacers have excellent cornerstone players in Roy Hibbert and Paul George.
With the last of the late games of the evening close to being in the books, let's catch up on the latest news and stories from around the league...
- Delonte West will not be joining the Texas Legends of the D-League as the oft-troubled veteran looks to return to the NBA, writes Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. The decision may lead to a severing of ties between the player and his representation.
- E'Twaun Moore has demonstrated growth in his all-around game after being traded by the Celtics this past offseason as he's become a steady contributor for the Magic, says Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com.
- Much issue has been made about Kevin Durant's height around the Thunder locker room as the player himself swears he's no taller than 6-foot-9, writes Caplan. While he's not exactly Hasheem Thabeet's size, many players on the team believed Durant to be taller than his listed height.
In addtion to Steve Nash's Lakers debut tonight, another major talking point in the Pacific Division involves the Kings' suspension of DeMarcus Cousins. According to Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today, a source close the team's plans says that the former Kentucky big man isn't untouchable. Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM feels that Sacramento and the Magic would benefit by exploring trade talks, as both have pieces that could help the other side (Twitter link). Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops also weighed in, offering four different scenarios in which the Kings could deal the fourth-year player. With that aside, here are some of the other notable stories we're hearing from the NBA this evening:
- Jim Eichenhoffer of Hornets.com tweets that Eric Gordon has been cleared for full contact practice.
- Jenni Carlson of NewsOK believes that dealing James Harden to Houston has made the Thunder a better and more fluid team, pointing to the significant increase in assist numbers by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
- Jan Vesely has yet to earn a consistent role during a turbulent start to his second-year campaign with the struggling Wizards, writes Michael Lee of the Washington Post. “It’s tough, especially when the team is losing,” Vesely said of his current role. “Everybody try to stay positive but sometimes it’s hard. I try to practice everyday, work on my game and stay ready for my chance to play.”
- Darius Morris may not be ready for a starting job, but Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times writes about how the Lakers' sophomore guard has found a significant role in Mike D'Antoni's rotation (Sulia link).
- Two years ago and just months removed from "The Decision", Jazz guard Mo Williams (then with Cleveland) and Heat superstar LeBron James may not have necessarily been on each other's holiday greetings list. Today, Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune notes how the two former teammates had nothing but glowing remarks to say about each other heading into tonight's matchup between Utah and Miami.
The latest news and notes from around the Northwest Division on Wednesday evening:
- Kevin Durant tells Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman that he feels the Thunder have played well in adjusting to James Harden's absence.
- Abby Chin of CSNNW.com writes that Blazers coach Terry Stotts is trying to instill confidence in the team's bench, which has underperformed this season.
- Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma reflects on his rookie season in Boston as they prepare to play the Celtics.
A rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals was the only game on the NBA's slate Thursday night, but it certainly delivered. After hitting a game-tying three with 28 seconds left, Tony Parker hit a buzzer-beater to give the Spurs an 86-84 win over the defending Northwest Division champions. We've got a few Thunder-related links to pass along this morning as they regroup from last night's loss, along with a couple more Northwest notes:
- Despite not playing his first regular-season game with the Timberwolves yet, Chase Budinger tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities he can already picture himself sticking around Minnesota for a while: "I can definitely see myself here (long-term). It's a great city. You can
already see how good the fans are here.... I'm excited for the season."
- Wolfson also tweets that Kenyon Martin's camp has checked in a few times with the Timberwolves, but the T-Wolves have said Kevin Love's recovery is going well and they don't have a need at power forward. Since K-Mart is reportedly seeking the mini mid-level, I'm not sure the Wolves are necessarily a match anyway.
- Noting that it felt "surreal" to be dealt to a championship contender like the Thunder, another K-Mart, Kevin Martin, tells Yannis Koutroupis of HoopsWorld that he wasn't surprised by the trade. "With next summer being an
unrestricted free agent and them in rebuilding mode," Martin said. "I knew it was going to come at some point."
- One "well-placed" NBA executive tells Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he would've preferred to trade Russell Westbrook than James Harden, if he were running the Thunder (Twitter link).
- Kevin Durant spoke to reporters last night about the Harden trade, and HoopsWorld TV has the video.
Ever since the Lakers traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard earlier this offseason, many have been projecting them to reach the 2013 Finals and even win the title. However, this is being taken as a slight by Kevin Durant and the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder. Here are Durant's thoughts on the newly retooled Lakers, as well as some early speculation about Durant's own free agency:
- Durant told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that he understands why the Lakers are receiving the majority of the offseason buzz: "People outside, fans, media, of course they are going to say [the
Lakers are the favorites] because on paper they have the best lineup in
the league. But you still got to play the games. We respect everybody.
We are going to go through the league respecting everybody as well. We already view ourselves as an elite team, but we have to prove it again. Last year is over with."
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel wonders whether the Magic plan to eventually target Durant, who is scheduled to hit free agency following the 2015/16 season.
Michael Lee of The Washington Post recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Thunder star Kevin Durant. Even though he's yet to turn 24, Durant says he's ready to take his game to the next level and dominate the league. Here are a few highlights from the conversation:
On where he's at in his career and how he sees himself within the league:
“I’ve heard a few times, in three or four years, this league is going to be yours. . . . I don’t like that. Because I think I’m established now. My time is now. I feel as though I’ve proved myself these last five years that I can be one of the top players in the league. I’ve got a long way to go to being the ultimate best, but I think my time is now. And I’m starting to enter my prime.”
On what it was like to play with the top players in the world during the Olympics:
“I always felt that I belonged on top with those guys and I just have to continue to keep working to maintain that. It feels good to be a part of a great group of guys, to do something special for the country. We all respected each other and they never looked at me as the younger guy coming up and waiting his turn. They were just, ‘Go out there and play, do what you do.’ And that’s what I did.”
On his decision to make a movie during the NBA lockout last summer:
“The thing that I was more concerned about is that I was just so shy. I didn’t want to look dumb. [My mom] told me don’t worry about that. You can’t let other people dictate how you live. She gave me a whole little speech. I said, ‘Why not?’ I want people to see another side of me that they don’t see on the basketball court."
On what not winning a championship would mean for his career:
“I’m not going to let people define my career as a player thus far if I don’t win a championship. They are going to say I’m a bust or I flopped or that I didn’t have a good career in the NBA because I didn’t win a championship in the time that they wanted me to do it? I’m just going to keep enjoying what I’m doing and hopefully I get there sooner than later.”