Western Notes: Durant, Donovan, Grizzlies, Barnes

Thunder GM Sam Presti carries an upbeat attitude as his team enters the final season of Kevin Durant‘s contract, but he understands the stakes, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com details. Presti acknowledges plenty of competition will exist for the former MVP, and when Shelburne asked his thoughts on the rising salary cap that will give more teams a shot to sign Durant, Presti simply pointed to a magnet on his wall that reads, “Forget It, Jake, It’s Chinatown.” The question remains about whether Durant and Russell Westbrook can lead the team to the championship as a united force in perhaps the last season they’ll play together, Shelburne writes.

“We are not going to bury our head in the sand,” Presti said, “and pretend that’s not going to be in the air.”

See more on the Thunder amid our look at notes from the Western Conference:

  • The atmosphere around the small-town Thunder offers new coach Billy Donovan the chance to concentrate on the X’s and O’s of basketball, and it’s clear that success on the court will be more important than Donovan’s ability to manage egos, as Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding believes.
  • The Grizzlies didn’t add a shooter in the offseason, but as long as Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have prominent roles in the rotation, there’s little the team can do improve in that area, argues Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal, writing in his “Pick and Pop” column.
  • The trade that netted Matt Barnes didn’t cost the Grizzlies much, so if his situation with Derek Fisher becomes too much of a distraction, the team wouldn’t be making too much of a sacrifice, all told, if it decides to part ways with Barnes, Herrington opines in the same piece.

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