Los Angeles Clippers

Latest On Kevin Durant’s Free Agency

League insiders believe the second-round win over the Spurs was enough to keep Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical. In a video, Marks says the most likely scenario is for Durant to sign a one-year deal with the Thunder worth about $25.9MM that includes a player option for 2017/18.

Next summer, Durant will have 10 years of NBA experience and will become a Tier Three Max player, which means Oklahoma City could offer him more than $200MM over five seasons. If Durant opts for a long-term deal this offseason, OKC can offer five years at about $145MM. Risks involved in choosing a single-season deal are Durant’s injury history and the possibility of a new collective bargaining agreement next year that would shake up the league’s salary structure. Marks lists the Spurs, Heat, Celtics and Warriors as teams expected to make a run at Durant, while ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter) adds the Rockets, Knicks, Lakers, and Wizards to that list.

Durant told Sam Amick of USA Today that he was able to push the free agency issue aside and concentrate fully on every playoff game. “If this would have happened four years ago, I would have been everywhere – my mind would have been everywhere,” he said. “So I’m happy that I was able to focus and lock in and give my all to my team every single night.” Whether it’s a clue to his decision or not, Durant later added, “I see bright things for this team. And it’s great to be a part of it.”

San Antonio, Miami and Golden State are the top contenders if Durant decides to go elsewhere, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Isola contends the Knicks could be helped if Durant opts for a one-year contract because it gives them another season to improve, along with another year of growth for rookie Kristaps Porzingis.

The Knicks hurt their case when they fired coach Derek Fisher, Durant’s former teammate, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Two advantages they have are that Carmelo Anthony, who has a good relationship with Durant, wants to be part of the recruitment process, and that Durant’s father is a longtime fan of the Knicks. However, New York assistant Brian Keefe, who was Durant’s workout partner in Oklahoma City, reportedly won’t be part of Jeff Hornacek’s new staff.

The odds against Durant signing with the Heat are even greater than they were against LeBron James coming to Miami in 2010, argues Ethan Skolnick of The Miami Herald. Skolnick writes that team president Pat Riley’s best chance is to sell Durant on the possibility of winning a championship with the Heat. However, the 55-win Thunder are also serious title contenders, Durant doesn’t have a close relationship with any of the Miami players like James did with Dwyane Wade and the new restrictions on sign-and-trade deals make it more difficult for players to recoup whatever money they give up to sign with another team.

Durant and the Clippers could both change their postseason fortunes if they unite, writes Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. Woike notes that L.A. won’t have the money to pursue the OKC star because two thirds of its cap room is tied up in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but he argues that it might be worth trading one of those three to create the room to sign Durant.

Durant’s friendship with James Harden and the addition of an offensive-minded coach in Mike D’Antoni give the Rockets a least a fighting chance of landing Durant, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. In addition, Rex Kalamian, who may join D’Antoni’s staff, coached both Harden and Durant when he was an assistant with the Thunder.

Clippers Workouts

  • The Clippers held workouts today for A.J. English (Iona), Gary Payton II (Oregon State), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Danuel House (Texas A&M), Marshall Plumlee (Duke) and Josh Scott (Colorado), Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times relays (via Twitter).
  • The Clippers are bringing in point guard Walter Lemon Jr. for their veteran mini-camp, Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report tweets. Lemon Jr. spent last season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ D-League affiliate, averaging 13.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 24.7 minutes per outing.

Clippers To Work Out Six Prospects

  • In addition to A.J. English, whose scheduled workout was previously reported, the Clippers will take a closer look at Gary Payton II, Malcolm Brogdon, Danuel House, Marshall Plumlee, and Josh Scott on Wednesday, tweets Dan Woike of The Orange County Register.

Clips To Work Out English

  • A.J. English has worked out for the Lakers , Zagoria reports (Twitter link). The Iona product will work out for the Clippers on Wednesday and the Mavs on Thursday

Draft Notes: Ingram, Maker, Briscoe

One league executive told Chad Ford of ESPN.com that Brandon Ingram’s future in the NBA will be at the shooting guard position. “Back when the Pacers used to play Paul George at the 2, I felt like that was his best position,” the executive told Ford. “I feel the same way about Ingram. That’s where he can be devastating and his lack of strength won’t come back to haunt him. If he becomes a superstar, I think it will be because he developed the ability to play that spot.” Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors profiled Ingram earlier today.

  • Thon Maker will play the five spot as he develops in the league, one anonymous GM tells Ford, as he writes in the same piece. Ford speculates that the Celtics, Nuggets, Sixers and Suns may look to draft the Australian. All four of those teams have multiple first round picks.
  • Most scouts aren’t optimistic about Perry Ellis’ chances of hearing his name called on draft night, though some have him going in the second round, Ford adds in the same piece.
  • Isaiah Briscoe has worked out for the Wolves today, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv tweets. Briscoe will also work out for the Hawks on Tuesday, Zagoria adds.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Blatt, Shaw, Crawford

Two-time MVP Stephen Curry has earned a raise, but the Warriors can’t afford to renegotiate, writes Danny Leroux of The Sporting News. Curry will receive a little more than $12.1MM next season in the final year of his contract, about half of what other top stars make. Working out a new deal over the summer would prevent Curry from reaching free agency, but it would also upend the team’s salary structure, Leroux warns.

Curry is eligible for a new contract because he will be entering the fifth year of his current deal. However, any raise he receives — and it would surely be a maximum contract starting in the neighborhood of $25.9MM — would drain Golden State’s cap space. The Warriors plan to operate under the cap this summer, and a new contract for Curry could cost the team Harrison Barnes or Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli. Also, the NBA limits renegotiated extensions to four seasons, which would include 2016/17. If Curry waits until free agency next summer, he can receive a five-year contract that would run through 2021/22, and he could receive even more money if max deals are increased as part of a 2017 labor renegotiation.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • David Blatt is not on Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s short list to become his top assistant, tweets Monte Poole of CSNBayArea. Kerr was interested in Blatt for the position two years ago.
  • Brian Shaw is nearing a return to the Lakers as lead assistant, but the rest of Luke Walton’s staff is uncertain, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Shaw, who was an assistant in L.A. under Phil Jackson from 2005-11, was also rumored to be a candidate for assistant posts with the Pacers and Magic, Oram reports. He adds that no one knows if any members of former head coach Byron Scott’s staff will be retained, as Walton may seek coaches with ties to the Lakers or he may try to lure other assistants from Golden State, where Walton had been serving as lead assistant.
  • Shaw’s hiring is imminent, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News, who says the two sides are finalizing the contract.
  • It wouldn’t take a playoff team to pry free agent combo guard Jamal Crawford away from the Clippers, tweets Noah Coslov of CineSport. “Definitely money, situation, could be a team on the rise,” Crawford said in listing his priorities in an interview on Bleacher Report Radio. “Doesn’t have to be contender.”

Latest On 2016 NBA Draft

  • Indiana junior small forward Troy Williams is still undecided on whether or not he will remain in this year’s NBA draft, Scott Agness of VigilantSports tweets. Williams, who is the No. 86 overall prospect according to Givony, has upcoming workouts with the Lakers, Clippers, and Pelicans, Agness notes.
  • Working out for the Clippers on Wednesday will be Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson) and Robert Carter (Maryland), Dan Woike of The Orange County Register tweets.

Ben Bentil Working Out For Lakers, Clippers

  • Providence forward Ben Bentil will audition for both Los Angeles teams this week, working out for the Lakers and Clippers on Wednesday and Thursday, a source tells Zagoria (Twitter link).

Doc Rivers Talks Offseason, Green, Stephenson

In a conversation with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Clippers head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers discussed a handful of interesting topics, including the Blake Griffin-Matias Testi incident, his relationship with Austin Rivers, and J.J. Redick‘s podcast.

Rivers also weighed in on some of the possible personnel decisions facing the Clippers, and addressed the impact of some decisions that he and the club have made in the past. Here are a few of the more notable quotes from Doc’s conversation with Lowe:

On whether he boxed the Clippers into a corner by saying the team won’t trade its top three players (Chris Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan):

“I don’t worry about the corner thing, ever. I’m always gonna do what’s good for the team. You don’t ever do anything but that. But I feel like the best thing for the team right now is to keep them together. Can that change? Of course it can change. But I don’t think it will.”

On whether Jeff Green will be the Clippers’ starting small forward in 2016/17:

“We gotta sign him first. … We don’t need a superstar [small forward]. We have superstars at other positions. We need guys who are complementary players. Jeff is terrific in that role.”

On Lance Stephenson and why he didn’t work out for the Clippers:

“He played great for Memphis. He wasn’t a great fit for us. Defensively — that’s where I was more disappointed, and shocked. I look at that body, and that athleticism, and I think: That’s a prototypical great defender. And he’s not that. … But I’ll tell you one thing — he’s not a bad kid. He gets cast as this malcontent bad kid, and Lance was never that. I thought he was funny. The guys liked him. But Lance wants to score every time he touches the ball, and he’s not that type of guy.”

On whether Rivers is concerned that the Clippers have given up too many draft picks:

“Yeah. I am. I think we had to because of the cap situation we inherited, but we’re starting to get some back. The best thing to happen to us is we get the Brooklyn pick at the start of the second round. That’s a big deal for us. So now, I think we have a chance to get healthy, get picks and keep building our team.”

Draft Combine Update: Friday Afternoon

The Celtics have a tentative workout scheduled with Duke small forward Brandon Ingram, a prime contender to become the No. 1 pick, reports Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). The outcome of the lottery will determine whether it takes place, according to Murphy, and presumably, the Celtics will have to land one of the top two selections. Ingram is the top prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings and second in the listings Chad Ford of ESPN.com compiles.

See more draft news on day three of the combine:

  • Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson and Kansas forward/center Cheick Diallo have told teams they’ve decided to stay in the draft rather than pull out by May 25th to retain their college eligibility, reports Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers, Warriors, Spurs, Wizards, Rockets and Mavericks are among the teams that have spoken with Syracuse swingman Michael Gbinije, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
  • Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson has interviewed with the Suns, Spurs, Kings, Trail Blazers and Bucks, observes Rod Beard of The Detroit News, who also cites Jackson’s previously reported interview with the Pistons.
  • Villanova shooting guard Josh Hart has worked out for the Clippers and has another workout scheduled with the Hawks on May 24th, as Zagoria relays. He’ll also work out for the Celtics and Spurs, and his previously reported workout with the Sixers takes place Monday, Zagoria reveals. The Knicks, Wizards, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Pacers, Grizzlies and Jazz interviewed Hart at the combine, according to Zagoria.
  • Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan has the Pistons, Hawks, Wizards and Suns among the teams on his interview list, Zagoria tweets.

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