The Thunder‘s horrible performance in Game 1 of the Western semifinals could lead to an even worse result this summer, writes Buck Harvey of The San Antonio Express-News. The 32-point blowout capped a day that began for Oklahoma City with impending free agent Kevin Durant showering praise on San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, calling him the reason the Spurs have been successful for so long. Durant added another comment that raised suspicions that he is ready to move on from Oklahoma City. “Having a very good coach is probably the most important thing in this league,” Durant said. “You can have all the great players you want, but you have to have somebody to orchestrate it. That’s what they have. They have great players, but they also have a great coach to put them in position to utilize all their strength as individuals and make it come together as a team.” Harvey writes that it’s now up to first-year Thunder coach Billy Donovan to convince Durant that he can win a title in Oklahoma City.
There’s more from the Western Conference:
- The Spurs didn’t use an elaborate presentation to land LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency last summer, tweets Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Aldridge was one of the difference makers Saturday, scoring 38 points as San Antonio pulled away early. “We didn’t give him a sales pitch,” Popovich said after Game 1. “We met with him. LaMarcus is a grown man. He makes his decisions based on facts that are important to him and his future, and he doesn’t need candles and cakes and all that sort of thing to try to convince him. That would be a little silly I think.”
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr said “it was just a matter of time” until assistant Luke Walton found a head coaching job, relays Tim Kawakami of The Bay Area News Group. Kerr said he knew Walton interviewed with the Lakers on Thursday, but he expected the hiring process to take longer than it did. “When we put our staff together last year, I kind of figured [Pelicans coach] Alvin [Gentry] would be gone pretty quickly,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think Luke would be gone this fast. So ‘disappointed’ is not the right word, because I’m thrilled for him. Sad is probably the more appropriate term. He’s a huge part of our culture and so much fun to be around.”