Kevin Durant feels uncomfortable with the attention his upcoming free agency is generating, but the volume of the talk about it figures to go up a few notches in the next couple of days with the Thunder‘s annual visit to Washington for a game against the Wizards coming Tuesday, as USA Today’s Sam Amick examines. The former MVP wasn’t a fan of what the Wizards did in January the last time Oklahoma City went to Washington, when they showed a photo of Durant on scoreboard with a Wizards jersey edited onto his chest, among other homages to the D.C. native, as Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports relays:
“It was crazy. It was crazy,” Durant said. “It was kind of disrespectful in my opinion, because you’ve got a great team there already, that deserves your full, 100% support. And I wouldn’t like that if I was on that team. And I didn’t like that. But it comes with nowadays. It’s a part of it.
Durant said he’s learning to embrace the hoopla, as Amick notes, and that could be key as the season goes on and the noise grows louder. Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Nuggets coach Michael Malone is a fan of Will Barton‘s versatility and motor, traits that are paying dividends for the team, observes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Barton re-signed with the Nuggets this summer on three-year, $10.6MM deal after originally having joined the team via the Arron Afflalo trade. “I’m starting fresh,” Barton said, according to Dempsey. “And they embraced me when I came here in the trade. So it was like I wanted to come back and get a full year under my belt and show the fans really, really what I can do. I think I teased them last year and it’s just a great feeling, a great vibe from the front office to the players. Everybody wanted me back. So it was just like ‘Let’s get it done.'”
- Versatility is also helping Joe Ingles impress Jazz coach Quin Snyder, notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Snyder wants him to improve defensively, but he’s otherwise pleased with the 28-year-old who re-signed on a two-year, $4.5MM deal in the offseason.
- The Thunder carried an underlying anxiety during their three-game losing streak, with a new coach, new players and Durant’s free agency in their thoughts, but a win Sunday that highlighted their deep bench showed what can happen if Billy Donovan continues to experiment, observes Royce Young of ESPN.com.