ESPN’s Tom Penn, a former NBA executive, in an appearance on ESPN’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” said that with how well Russell Westbrook is playing, the Thunder could consider trading Kevin Durant, who is set to hit free agency in 2016. “I think this burst from Westbrook makes it much more likely that Durant ultimately gets traded next year,” Penn said. “[OKC GM] Sam Presti has proven that he does not ever want to lose anybody for nothing. So he traded James Harden a year early to avoid a potential luxury tax problem a year later. The Kevin Durant drumbeat next year is going to be so loud because he will not commit early to Oklahoma City contractually because the rules are against that. He can’t get the same contract if he signs early as if he just goes to free agency and resigns. So if Sam Presti doesn’t get that commitment, he’ll look to to trade Kevin Durant. And looking at the performance of Westbrook and the team around Westbrook will make it easier for him to do that potentially.”
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Delonte West is considering a deal to join the Texas Legends, the Mavs‘ D-League affiliate, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). West’s last regular season NBA action came with Dallas during the 2011/12 season. The mercurial guard’s career stats are 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.
- Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt has already shown that he should be in the running to be Denver’s coach next season, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “I’ve always viewed myself as a head coach,” Hunt said. “I’ve said before, I’ve been so thankful, I’ve been so blessed that I’ve had coaches and leaders that wanted me to lead. They’ve seen that in me. I was captain of my college team a couple of years. People have always looked at me as a leader, and I take that seriously.“
- Hunt said he has done a “handful” of head-coaching interviews in the past, but thanks to this opportunity with the Nuggets his resume will receive a nice boost, Dempsey adds. When asked if he felt any pressure to prove himself worthy of retaining Denver’s coaching job, Hunt said, “Not at all. There’s no anxiety. I go back to my faith. So it’s not like I feel any pressure as far as to win or play a certain way or do this or do that. When the time’s right, whatever God has for me, it will be. So whenever that time is, it will happen.”