Month: May 2024

Durant: Draymond Altercation Played Part In Decision To Leave Warriors

Appearing on ESPN’s First Take (video link) on Thursday morning, Nets forward Kevin Durant admitted that last year’s on-court altercation with Draymond Green played a part in his decision to leave the Warriors as a free agent this summer.

“A little bit, yeah, for sure,” Durant responded when asked directly by Stephen A. Smith if that incident played a role in his departure. “Your teammate talks to you that way, you think about it a bit. … Definitely [it was a factor], for sure, I’m not going to lie about it.”

According to Durant, he and Green talked things out after that confrontation, which saw the two All-Stars exchange heated words following a blown end-of-game possession in a November loss to the Clippers. Reports at the time indicated that Green told KD the Warriors didn’t need him and that he was welcome to leave as a free agent.

In today’s First Take appearance, Durant went on to explain that the Green incident was far from the only factor in his decision, and that he simply thought it was time for him to move on from the Warriors.

“I felt like a lot of stuff in Golden State had reared its head,” Durant said, per Malika Andrews of ESPN. “I felt like it was going to be the end no matter what, especially for that group. Shaun Livingston was retiring. Andre Iguodala was getting older. Our contracts were going to start for the team and put us in a hole to get other players. It was time for all of us to separate.

Besides addressing his departure from Golden State, Durant touched on a few other topics that he has discussed before, reiterating that he didn’t feel pressured by the Warriors’ front office or his teammates to return from his calf injury in the NBA Finals (video link). The All-NBA forward also said again that he’s not expecting to play at all during the 2019/20 season as he recovers from his Achilles tear (video link).

Wolves Dispute Simmons As ‘Peacemaker’ In Brawl

While Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns were the instigators of Wednesday’s brawl between the Sixers and Timberwolves, they weren’t the only players who jumped in the fray. Ben Simmons was among the players who ended up on the ground with Towns during the fracas, with referees ruling that Simmons was acting as a “peacemaker.” According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wolves are pushing back on that ruling.

As Wojnarowski details, the Timberwolves are arguing that Simmons had Towns in a “dangerous choke hold” as he pinned him to the floor. Minnesota’s front office was in touch with NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, sources tell Wojnarowski, and presumably the Wolves would like to see Simmons receive some sort of discipline as a result of the altercation.

According to Michael Lee of The Athletic (Twitter link), people on the Wolves’ side may have been even more upset with Simmons’ actions than Embiid’s, and questioned why he was allowed to stay in the game.

For their part, the Sixers were “adamant” in supporting the referees’ conclusion that Simmons was a peacemaker, per Woj. The 76ers have also been in contact with VanDeWeghe and the league office, telling the NBA that they believe Towns was the aggressor in the fight.

The NBA will review the tape and interview participants and witnesses beginning today as it determines the appropriate punishment for those involved in the brawl, says Wojnarowski. Neither team plays until Saturday, so the league has some time to mull its decisions.

As we detailed in our earlier story on the incident, Embiid and Towns brought the fight to social media after the game, though it’s not clear whether the league will take those tweets and Instagram posts into account when considering discipline.

Warriors Owner Dismisses Idea Of Tanking

Even with two-time MVP Stephen Curry in the lineup, the Warriors were off to a worrisome start this season. Now that Curry is set to miss time due to a broken left hand, the club’s short-term outlook looks even less promising. However, team owner Joe Lacob “scoffed” at the notion that it might be time for Golden State to consider tanking the season, as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne writes.

“It is against every single thing I and we stand for,” Lacob said. “We will fight like hell. Develop our young guys. Learn to win. You don’t get better by trying to lose. Our entire organization is about winning. And we will win. Some bumps in the road, perhaps. But we will never accept losing.”

Klay Thompson has already been ruled out until at least the All-Star break due to his torn ACL. Curry’s recovery timeline hasn’t been set, but Shelburne says team officials are preparing for him to miss a month or two. Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes that an injury like Curry’s often sidelines an NBA player for about six to eight weeks. Even Draymond Green is banged up, though he may not miss any time as he nurses a back injury.

Given the Warriors’ lack of quality depth, the team probably won’t have to deliberately “tank” in order to land in the lottery, as those injuries to their stars could be enough to derail their season. While Lacob isn’t willing to concede that it’s time to start looking ahead to 2020/21, he admitted in comments to Tim Kawakami and Ethan Strauss of The Athletic that the club will certainly keep its long-term outlook in mind.

“I’m just telling you that the bottom line is I’m not negative and I’m not going to get negative,” Lacob said in the wake of Curry’s injury. “I’m an optimist and we’re building something. You’re always looking short term and you’re looking intermediate term and you’re looking long term.

“And I think we’ve got a lot of good young players in place,” he continued. “Potentially, there’s a silver lining in all of this, who knows? And I’m very optimistic about our future. Very optimistic about our future. I think we’re going to be there at some point. Can’t say when. We’ve obviously got a lot of injuries now, but we’re going to be there.”

As we wait for an update on Curry’s diagnosis and the Warriors’ next moves, one “silver lining” worth considering if that the club will only send its 2020 first-round pick to Brooklyn if it falls outside of the top 20. That scenario looks increasingly unlikely, so the Dubs can probably count on keeping that first-round pick. And unlike most traded first-rounders, its protections won’t just carry over to the next draft — if the Nets don’t get that first-round selection in 2020, they’ll instead receive Golden State’s 2025 second-rounder.

Timberwolves Exercise Josh Okogie’s 2020/21 Option

The Timberwolves have officially picked up their 2020/21 rookie scale team option on Josh Okogie, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Although Minnesota waited until deadline day to officially make the move, there was never a doubt that the club would exercise the third-year option, worth $2,651,040.

Okogoie, 21, emerged as a reliable rotation player for the Timberwolves in his rookie season after being selected 20th overall in the 2018 draft. While he struggled with his shot (.386 FG%, .279 3PT%), the former Georgia Tech standout provided strong perimeter defense and flashed some offensive potential.

With Okogie now locked up through at least 2020/21, the next decision the Wolves face will be whether to pick up his $4,087,904 fourth-year option for 2021/22. That decision will be due one year from today.

NBA teams have until the end of the day to exercise their rookie scale options for the ’20/21 season, and only a handful of them are still outstanding. We’re tracking all those decisions right here.

Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns Involved In Brawl

OCTOBER 31, 7:56am: Embiid and Towns took to social media overnight to essentially pick up where they left off, trading increasingly nasty barbs on Instagram and Twitter.

As we wait to see how the NBA will respond to Wednesday’s fight, Marks notes (via Twitter) that a suspension will cost Embiid nearly $190K per game and Towns about $188K per game.

OCTOBER 30, 9:57pm: All-Star big men Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns were involved in an on-court brawl during the third quarter of the Sixers‘ win over the Timberwolves‘ on Wednesday night, resulting in both players being ejected for fighting.

It’s possible that one or both combatants threw a punch, and photographs make it appear as if Embiid attempted to gouge/poke Towns’ left eye with his right thumb, although his hand may have landed on Towns’ face accidentally.

This is not the first time bad blood has surfaced between Embiid and Towns. After a game in December 2017, Embiid went to Instagram to post a photograph of himself scoring on Towns. Towns criticized the caption and picture quality, to which Embiid responded, “Better quality than your defense.”

Bobby Marks of ESPN notes that the severity of the brawl will likely warrant multi-game suspensions for both players. Marks adds that both teams don’t play again until Saturday, so the league will have plenty of time to assess whether any players left the bench area, which could lead to additional suspensions (Twitter link). Stay tuned.

Stephen Curry Suffers Broken Left Hand

Things have gone from bad to worse this season for the Warriors, as Stephen Curry suffered a broken left hand during the team’s game against Phoenix on Wednesday night, reports Marcus Thompson of The Athletic (Twitter link). The club has confirmed Thompson’s report.

According to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports California (Twitter link), Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said Curry will undergo a CT scan on his hand to see if surgery is required. The club doesn’t yet have an estimate on a potential recovery timetable, but it’s safe to assume the two-time MVP will miss some time.

Although the Warriors picked up their first win of the season on Monday against New Orleans, it has otherwise been a disastrous start to the season for the franchise that has won the Western Conference for five consecutive years. The Dubs were blown out in their home opener by the Clippers last Thursday, then run off the court in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

In Wednesday’s contest, Golden State’s third loss, the Suns built a 43-14 lead by the end of the first quarter, fueled by a shocking 30-1 run. Curry’s injury occurred later in the game when he drove to the net and landed awkwardly, bracing his fall with his left hand just before Baynes fell on that hand (video link).

Golden State entered this season expecting to lean heavily on Curry, Draymond Green, and D’Angelo Russell, with Klay Thompson recovering from an ACL tear and without a ton of quality depth surrounding those stars. Now that both Splash Brothers project to be on the injured list for the foreseeable future, the Warriors’ playoff chances look much slimmer.

The Warriors’ cap situation will make things even more difficult moving forward. The team is right up against a hard cap and can’t add a 15th man, let alone apply for a hardship exception for a 16th.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter), Golden State still has more than eight healthy players on its roster, meeting the league’s minimum requirements, so the club is handcuffed for now. Even if that number dipped below eight, the Warriors’ hard cap means they’d have to petition the NBA to add a player, Marks adds (via Twitter).

It’s too early to call this a lost season for the Warriors, especially since we don’t yet know how much time Curry will miss. But that hasn’t stopped NBA writers from drawing comparisons to the 1996/97 Spurs, who bottomed out (a year after winning 59 games) due primarily to a season-ending David Robinson injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Tatum, Williams

OCTOBER 30, 9:40pm: As expected, the Celtics have now picked up Williams’ option, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

OCTOBER 14, 5:00pm: RealGM’s official transactions log lists the Celtics as having exercised Tatum’s option, but not Williams’. While I’d still expect Time Lord’s option to be picked up, it hasn’t happened yet. Boston has until October 31 to make its decision.

OCTOBER 14, 2:58pm: The Celtics have exercised their fourth-year option on former No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Boston has also picked up its third-year option on 2018 first-rounder Robert Williams, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Both options are for the 2020/21 season, with Tatum’s cap hit ($9,897,120) significantly outweighing Williams’ ($2,029,920). Tatum will now be eligible for a contract extension in 2020 and would be on track for restricted free agency in 2021 if he doesn’t sign a new deal next year. Williams has one more year on his rookie contract in 2021/22 — the C’s will have to make a decision on that option by October 31 next year.

Both Tatum and Williams could take on more responsibilities in 2019/20 after a handful of veterans left the Celtics over the summer. Tatum, in particular, figures to be leaned on more heavily as an offensive play-maker with Kyrie Irving no longer in the mix, as the Celtics hope the 21-year-old can take another leap after an up-and-down performance last season.

Williams, meanwhile, will play a more modest role, but Boston’s frontcourt situation is unsettled now that Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris are playing for new teams. There could be regular minutes available for the former Texas A&M standout going forward.

With the October 31 deadline nearing, we’re tracking all of the 2020/21 rookie scale option decisions from around the NBA right here.

NBA G League Assignment/Recalls: 10/30/19

Every night during the NBA G League season, Hoops Rumors provides the assignments and recalls for each team. With training camps now open, here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the G League:

Deandre Ayton, NBPA To Meet With NBA

According to Sean Deveney of Heavy.comSuns big man Deandre Ayton is scheduled to meet with the NBA by the end of this week to discuss his 25-game suspension for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic.

Per Deveney’s league source, Ayton’s camp and the NBPA will present their case for a reduction of the suspension, arguing that Ayton ingested the banned diuretic by mistake.

[RELATED: Deandre Ayton Hit With 25-Game Suspension]

As we noted in our original piece regarding this story, part of the parties’ argument that the diuretic was taken unwittingly is based on Ayton’s drug test showing no traces of any other banned substances.

When asked yesterday if he had an update on the situation involving Ayton, Suns’ GM James Jones said the following:

“I don’t… that’s in the Player’s Association’s hands. We’re supporting Deandre. We’re focused on the team continuing to focus on the next game. That’ll take care of itself. I know he misses being out there with his teammates and whenever he comes back, we’ll be ready to re-integrate him and continue with this forward movement and momentum.”

Kyle Kuzma To Make Season Debut

The Lakers, winners of three straight games after an opening-night loss to their crosstown rival, will add some additional firepower to their roster on Friday against the Mavs, with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reporting that forward Kyle Kuzma is set to make his season debut.

As we relayed last night, Kuzma was already set to travel with the team on their upcoming three-game road trip, so the news that he will make his 2019/20 debut in the Lakers’ next game isn’t a big surprise, but it’s still noteworthy, as Kuzma is poised to try and give L.A. their own version of a “Big 3” alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Kuzma was sidelined for the first four games of this season with a stress reaction in his left foot. It’s unclear whether he’ll be on a minutes restriction in his first game or two back, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise.

Once back in the lineup and up to full speed, the 24-year-old Utah product will look to improve upon an impressive sophomore campaign in which he posted a stat line of 18.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG on .553/.303/.752 shooting.