Within a piece on Kevin Durant‘s free agency, Royce Young of ESPN.com passes along a handful of interesting tidbits, writing that Durant has privately “raved to friends” about newly-acquired Thunder guard Victor Oladipo. Young also suggests that, after finishing this past season with the NBA’s third-highest payroll, the Thunder still “have plenty of cash stashed away to keep on paying.”
According to Young, Durant built a strong connection with Billy Donovan during the coach’s first year in Oklahoma City, which is a positive sign for the Thunder. As Young explains, Durant is a big believer in the importance of coaching, and has wanted the sort of long-term relationship with a coach that Tim Duncan has with Gregg Popovich. Donovan – whom the Spurs previously considered as a possible eventual successor to Popovich, according to Young – is a candidate to become Durant’s Popovich, assuming KD remains with the Thunder.
Here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- Speaking of Duncan, his cap number will increase to about $6.4MM in 2016/17, since he cashed in on an incentive bonus worth $750K after the Spurs won 62+ games, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Duncan had previously been set to earn $5,643,750 on the player option he exercised this week, but the bonus should increase his salary to $6,393,750. The future Hall-of-Famer is still debating whether or not to continue his playing career.
- As the Timberwolves survey the market for free agent bigs, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Brandon Bass is another potential target on the team’s radar.
- The Trail Blazers have amended the language in Cliff Alexander‘s contract, moving his salary guarantee date from June 30th to July 25th, reports Jason Quick of CSNNW.com (via Twitter). The move will allow Portland to delay its decision on Alexander until after the free agent period — the team could cut him or guarantee his salary later, depending on how the summer plays out.