Kevin Durant

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Booker, Jordan

When Stephen Curry and the Warriors brought Kevin Durant to the Bay Area they did so with situations like the one the team is going through right now in mind. Marcus Thompson of The Athletic writes that having Durant available to lead the way while Curry recovers from an ankle injury can be a game changer for the franchise.

Prior to Durant’s arrival, the Warriors struggled to win with Curry on the sidelines, let alone dominate. Having the two available to support each other – as Curry did when Durant was out toward the end of last season – could extend both of their primes.

As Thompson writes, we may not remember this particular stretch of games where Durant filled in for Curry but the fact that we’ve seen the two stars willingly share the offensive load at different times over the course of the past two seasons will benefit the team for years.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • While he’s still expected to miss two-to-three weeks with an abductor strain, Suns guard Devin Booker is already up and walking, Jose Romero of the Associated Press writes.
  • The Clippers may look to move DeAndre Jordan at the deadline if they’re not pleased with their chances of competing in the Western Conference. This ESPN Insider piece explores four possible trade scenarios, including one that would see Jordan land with the Bucks in exchange for Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova.
  • Former Raptors coach Jay Triano has the personality to develop young basketball players, something that will come in handy as he serves as the interim head coach of the Suns. DeMar DeRozan witnessed as much during the coach’s tenure in Toronto from 2002-11. “There’s a personality about Jay that’s so positive, it makes you want to be at work, makes you want to do all the things that he asks from you,” DeRozan told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. “[He’s] kind of a player’s coach. The things he was doing, it was so long ago and I was so young, I didn’t understand. I thought the whole league was like that. Now looking back on it, Jay was definitely one of them guys.”

Warriors Projected To Spend $1.1 Billion On Salary, Taxes Over Next Five Seasons

The Warriors have built a dynasty, but if they plan on keeping this team together, it’ll come at a great cost, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes.

The franchise is projected to spend over $1.1MM billion on salary and taxes through the 2020/21 campaign, a figure that includes $168MM in salary and taxes this season. One league executive told Marks that “finances are the only thing that will break up this Warriors team.”

The financial dominos begin this summer with Kevin Durant, who will yet again be a free agent if he turns down his player option as expected.

Marks breaks down Durant’s three main options as opting in ($26.3, one-year deal), opting out and signing another one-year deal (one-year, $30MM with another player option for year two), or opting out and signing a four-year pact for the max ($158MM with a starting salary of $35.4MM).

Golden State won’t have the ability to sign Durant to a five-year deal because the franchise only owns his Early Bird Rights. If he takes either of the one-year options, he’ll be eligible for a five-year deal in the 2019 offseason.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Early Bird Rights]

Durant took a discount to re-sign with the team this past offseason, though Marks believes it’s unlikely that he’ll take the same route again since the Warriors won’t be able to use the savings to add additional pieces.

Durant won’t get a Designated Veteran Extension. Every team is only permitted to sign two players to those super-max contracts and Golden State already locked up Curry through the 2021/22 season with one. Durant won’t be eligible for one of these deals since he came to the team as a free agent, which means the Warriors will have to decide whether to give their second DVE to Draymond Green or Klay Thompson.

Assuming Golden State saves the contract for Green and Thompson signs a traditional max deal, the Warriors could be facing a record-high $225MM in tax penalties for the 2019/20 season. That figure also assumes that Golden State brings back Patrick McCaw on a modest deal (Marks estimates $6MM salary in 2019/20).

As Marks notes, the league requires the payment in full – with no installment plan – for luxury tax charges, meaning Golden State’s ownership would have to send the full $225MM to the NBA in the late spring of 2020.

Golden State could shed salary by waiving Shaun Livingston, whose 2019/20 salary only contains $2MM in guarantees, and declining Damian Jones‘ fourth-year option, which is worth $2.3MM.

The Warriors are in a position unlike any other in NBA history both on the court and off of it. They’re the favorites to win the champion this season and it’s easy to envision them maintaining the Larry O’Brien trophy throughout the entire Donald Trump administration.

The costs of keeping the team together will be staggering, though it’s a problem opposing franchises would gladly accept if given the opportunity.

“There are 29 owners that would take this Warriors roster even if the cost was $495 million in luxury tax penalties,” a league executive told Marks.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Durant, Triano

The Clippers have struggled to get reliable production from the point this season, largely because Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley have been sidelined extensively and Austin Rivers is better suited to play the role of combo guard. Stepping up as a playmaker then, has been power forward Blake Griffin. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that Griffin has manned the point not unlike standout rookie Ben Simmons has to much fanfare.

Not only do guards on the roster consciously look to feed Griffin the ball to bring up the court, the 28-year-old has done well to create offense when he gets it. Through 18 games this season, Griffin leads the Clippers with 5.0 assists per game, all while posting his highest scoring average in five years and chipping in 7.7 rebounds per contest for good measure.

He’s always been able to handle the ball and he’s always been a real Mack truck coming down the floor in transition with the ball,” division rival Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “If he gets a rebound and he’s breaking out, he’s hard and it’s difficult to guard.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The young Suns are learning first-hand just how much head coaching matters in the NBA, Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic writes. After replacing Earl Watson following a disastrous first three games to start the season, Jay Triano has guided Phoenix to a 7-10 record.
  • The Warriors may have prematurely allowed Kevin Durant to suit up on an injured ankle, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes. The forward sprained his ankle last weekend but played in Wednesday night’s marquee matchup with the Thunder, something head coach Steve Kerr now regrets. “I’m sure the league is happy with us because we played him on their ‘marquee’ game with and all that stuff. But he came out sore the next day. So we shouldn’t have played him,” Kerr said.
  • Well-suited for his elder statesmen role on the Warriors bench, David West has made an impact with his veteran leadership, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t speak unless it’s necessary. He understands when it’s necessary,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s not doing it to hear himself talk. He’s not one of those guys. He’s doing it to impart some knowledge and wisdom. So he picks his spots wisely.”

Injury Notes: A. Davis, Thomas, Porzingis, Wall

Earlier today, we passed on the news that Sixers guard Markelle Fultz in making progress with his shoulder ailment. Here are a few more injury notes involving some of the NBA’s top players:

  • Pelicans forward Anthony Davis has cleared the concussion protocol and is probable for Monday’s game, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Davis was diagnosed with a contusion of the orbit bone above his right eye after a collision the third quarter of Friday night’s contest. He was removed from the game and didn’t re-enter.
  • Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas participated in some five-on-zero drills and worked on his shot today in practice, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).
  • Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has swelling in his elbow caused by bursitis, but says it isn’t the reason for his recent shooting problems, according to Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). “At the end of last season, it was really swollen; it was really, really big,” he said of the elbow. “But it was never really bothering me. Now this season, kind of fell on it a couple of times. It wasn’t bothering me either. In Sacramento, I fell kind of on the side. It was a new spot. It was much more sensitive. Now I’m doing treatment. Today’s the day I’m almost back to normal. I almost don’t feel it at all anymore.”
  • Wizards guard John Wall will miss today’s game with soreness in his left knee, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Warriors forward Kevin Durant suffered a sprained ankle last night and will sit out today’s game in Brooklyn, tweets Warriors PR.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Durant, McGee

The Lakers have no intention of taking Lonzo Ball out of the starting lineup anytime soon, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. The rookie guard has struggled mightily with his jump shot over the course of his first month in the league but the franchise remains committed to his development.

He’s our starting point guard,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.

The much hyped Lakers point guard – who cut his hair earlier today(!) – has averaged 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game so far this season but is just .303 from the field and .230 from beyond the arc.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Among several excellent aspects of an interview with Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Warriors forward Kevin Durant spoke candidly about the Thunder and their move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. An under reported asset that the Bay Area offered Durant in free agency is a similarity to the Pacific Northwest town in which he broke into the league. “To be part of a franchise moving, no player, especially a rookie, expects that,” Durant said. “I didn’t even think that was in the cards. Obviously, I wasn’t in on the deal, nobody asked me any questions. So as long as we got to play somewhere, it was cool with me. I was 19, I didn’t know the effect a team moving had on fans or a city. As I got older, I realized how huge a team leaving a city is, how devastating that must have been for the fans. Every time we’d go to the West Coast, we’d see Seattle jerseys and you’d start to realize that was a huge, huge part of people’s lives.
  • A solid debut with his new franchise could boost Greg Monroe‘s trade value, Cody Cunningham of Phoenix’s official team site writes. The big man dropped 20 and 11 in his first game for the Suns since coming over alongside draft picks in the Eric Bledsoe trade.
  • The Warriors haven’t been featuring JaVale McGee heavily in their regular rotation, opting to play him only if matchups call for his length and athleticism. “You definitely have to humble yourself a little bit, just because we’re competitors. We want to play,” McGee told Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “But you can’t complain on a winning team. I understand if we were losing and I’m thinking, ‘I can help.’ But we’re a part of a winning system.”

Pacific Notes: Curry, Warriors, Kings, KCP

In an in-depth piece for The Athletic, Marcus Thompson II takes a look back at the contract extension Stephen Curry signed five years ago with the Warriors, a deal that helped set Golden State’s dynasty in motion.

As Thompson details, Curry had been plagued by injury issues in his first few NBA seasons, so the Warriors presented him with two options: He could pass on a rookie scale extension and get a maximum salary contract the following summer if he stayed healthy in 2012/13, or he could accept a four-year, $44MM extension offer from the club. Curry opted for the latter, and while it became one of the most team-friendly deals in the NBA, the two-time MVP doesn’t regret signing it.

“At the end of the day, it gave me peace to just play basketball,” Curry said. “That was an underrated factor. I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. It was good money and I wouldn’t have to think about that for four years.”

Of course, Curry eventually cashed in on a much bigger scale — earlier this year, he signed a new five-year contract with the Warriors that was worth an NBA-record $201MM. Still, Thompson suggests that even that record-setting deal didn’t include everything Curry wanted, with the Dubs resisting adding a player option and a full no-trade clause.

Here’s more from around the Pacific division:

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Durant, Abrines, Leonard

Having missed out on free agent forward Dante Cunningham, the Timberwolves remain on the lookout for a couple more veterans to fill out their roster, and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News suggests (via Twitter) that it’s worth keeping an eye on Aaron Brooks. While Minnesota wants to sign a wing player, the team also continue to seek a backup point guard, and Tom Thibodeau has a history with Brooks, a former Bull.

Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune also identifies Brooks as a potential target for the Timberwolves, suggesting that C.J. Watson and Kirk Hinrich – another player with a Thibodeau connection – may be options as well. As for possible fits at the forward spot, Zgoda indicates that Gerald Green and Thomas Robinson are among the veteran free agents who could be in play for Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Appearing at a tech conference in San Francisco this week, Kevin Durant expressed remorse for the tweets sent from his Twitter account earlier this week, calling them “idiotic” and “childish,” as Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group details. The messages, in which Durant was critical of his former Thunder teammates and head coach Billy Donovan, drew a response from Enes Kanter. According to Andrew Joseph of USA Today, Kanter said he wasn’t mad about the tweets, but said it was “really sad” to see Durant express those views about an organization that “gave everything to him.”
  • After injuring his knee this summer, Alex Abrines is pain-free and feels like he can do “everything” on the court, but he’s still waiting to receive full clearance from the Thunder, as Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman details.
  • After signing a lucrative new four-year deal with the Trail Blazers last summer, Meyers Leonard had a disappointing 2016/17 season, but there’s reason to believe better things are in store for Leonard going forward, writes Jason Quick of CSNNW.com.

Northwest Notes: Durant, Wolves, Thunder

More than a year after leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State, Kevin Durant can’t seem to escape the drama that came with that decision. As Weston Shepherd of Daily Thunder outlines, a pair of tweets sent from Durant’s Twitter account earlier this week suggested that the star forward “didn’t like the [Thunder] organization or playing for Billy Donovan” and that OKC’s roster wasn’t talented enough to win a championship.

While those tweets were sent from Durant’s account, they referred to him in the third person, so it’s possible that someone with access to his Twitter published them without realizing which handle he was using. The tweets were quickly deleted, but there has been no explanation from KD, which may be a sign that his(?) comments on the Thunder weren’t far off the mark.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News passes along a couple updates from Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, tweeting that Taylor has spoken personally to Dante Cunningham and is waiting on the forward’s free agent decision. Wolfson adds that Nemanja Bjelica believes he’s ready to go after suffering a broken foot last season, but the club will take things slow with him in camp.
  • The Thunder don’t yet have recovery timelines for Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson, who are dealing with knee injuries, but both players are making progress, as Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman details.
  • While Shabazz Napier is one of 21 fourth-year players eligible for a rookie scale extension, he’s not a great candidate for a new deal. As Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes, Napier is “little more than an insurance policy” for the Trail Blazers this season, and will have a hard time earning extended minutes.

Warriors Notes: Jersey Sponsor, Curry, Durant

The Warriors are the latest NBA team to reach an agreement with a sponsor for jersey advertisements, and the terms of that deal are eye-popping. As Darren Rovell of ESPN details, the Warriors’ jersey three-year sponsorship agreement with Japanese tech company Rakuten is worth $20MM annually, which nearly doubles the second-most valuable deal signed so far — the Cavaliers’ agreement with Goodyear is said to be worth about $12MM per year.

“We actually had multiple finalists,” Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers said, per Rovell. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered. … We saw an opportunity, given the visibility we were receiving. So we felt in order to grow our global vision, we had to be aligned with a global brand.”

The Warriors can’t put that $60MM commitment from Rakuten – which owns cash-back site Ebates, messaging app Viber, and e-book brand Kobo – directly toward team salary. However, as Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group writes, a deal of that magnitude can indirectly help the franchise build its roster.

Here’s more from out of the Bay Area:

  • After Kevin Durant said on Bill Simmons’ podcast last month that “nobody wants to play in Under Armours,” Stephen Curry – Under Armour’s top endorser – had a conversation with his teammate to clear the air. “This is nothing that is going to put a wrench in the locker room,” Curry told Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer.
  • Having just signed a new five-year deal with the Warriors, Curry will be under contract through age 34, and he says that he hopes to play for a few more years beyond that. As Fowler details in the Observer piece linked above, Curry’s goal is to at least match the 16 years that his father Dell Curry spent in the NBA. So far, the eight-year veteran is halfway to that point — the 2024/25 season would be his 16th.
  • Within his latest mailbag, Anthony Slater of The Athletic addresses that “brand battle” between Curry and Durant, while also discussing Andre Iguodala‘s Hall-of-Fame chances, the Warriors’ biggest weakness, and much more.

Knicks Notes: Durant, Ownership, Offseason Recap

Warriors‘ superstar Kevin Durant has explicitly stated he would never play for the Knicks but it does not mean he will not offer the franchise advice. Speaking with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, Durant criticized the Knicks’ front office and lack of leadership from the top of the organization all the way down to the on-court product.

“Everything starts at the top, you have bad leadership, and it’s just going to trickle down to everybody else,” Durant said (via New York Post). “When a GM wants to make a decision, he has to talk to the owner and he’s nowhere to be found and he don’‘t care then you kind of stuck and that causes tension.”

The Knicks’ front office drama with Phil Jackson, James Dolan, and even the current trade saga with Carmelo Anthony has been ridiculed for a long time. Durant, who joined the Warriors in free agency last year, never seriously considered the Knicks and helped deliver the Warriors’ second title in the last three seasons.  While Durant later went on to praise New York City and playing in Madison Square Garden, the former MVP will not be a popular face when the team heads to New York next season.

Read about other news tidbits surrounding the Knicks:

  • The daughter of Bucks co-owner Wes Edens, Mallory Edens, recently told TMZ that she wants to purchase the Knicks. Dolan has not expressed any public desire to sell the team but Edens would want first dibs on the chance to buy the team, citing lack of women in top positions in the NBA.
  • Shaun Powell of NBA.com recapped the Knicks team based on last year’s performance, expectations for 2017/18 and more.
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