Eastern Notes: Durant, Anderson, Heat, LeBron

Some executives around the NBA expect that the Knicks will at least “get an audience” with Kevin Durant, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, who points out that New York will likely have to maneuver to create enough cap space to place a max offer on the table for him. Durant praised the Knicks’ roster construction, mentioning Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams, as well as coach and former Durant teammate Derek Fisher, notes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, but in spite of Durant’s much-publicized “unicorn” comment about Porzingis, the Thunder have a strong roster and a unique player of their own in Russell Westbrook, observes Royce Young of ESPN.com. See more on a few of New York’s Eastern Conference rivals:

  • Alan Anderson is expected to return to game action around the All-Star break, a source told Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The Wizards signed the swingman in the offseason thinking he’d be ready to start the season on time, but he wound up needing a second surgery on his injured left ankle, and he’s yet to suit up for the team.
  • Heat majority owner Micky Arison has been trying to buy out minority share owner Ranaan Katz for years, and Heat employees have long been barred from talking with him, according to Dan Le Batard of ESPN, who adds that the assertion that LeBron James tried to have Erik Spoelstra fired is untrue (Twitter links). Katz reportedly made that assertion, but he denies that, claiming that what he said on a radio show hosted by Ofira Asayag on ONE.co.il’s 102 FM in Israel was incorrectly translated from Hebrew to English, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). For what it’s worth, international journalist David Pick provided a full transcription for Bleacher Report, which depicts Katz saying that Riley’s refusal to fire Spoelstra was the primary reason James returned to Cleveland and that the Heat drafted Shabazz Napier in 2014 because James wanted them to. Katz also denies that he said LeBron was the catalyst for the Cavs firing David Blatt, as Pick notes in an addendum to the transcription.
  • James said today that he never hesitated to give his opinion but that he’s never undermined a coach, adding that he’s never met Katz, note Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter links). James has indeed met Katz, counters Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, who points out that Katz sits next to the visitors bench for every Heat home game (Twitter link).
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