Kevin Durant

Draymond Green: Durant FA Uncertainty “Not Important”

Kevin Durant‘s uncertain future has been hanging over the Warriors all season long, particularly since a heated on-court confrontation back in November in which Draymond Green reportedly accused Durant of planning to leave at season’s end. However, speaking to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Green suggested that neither KD’s upcoming free agency nor that November incident is a pressing concern in the locker room.

“It’s not important,” Green said. “We’re not about to sit around and walk around, or carry something around, that happened in November.”

Green didn’t deny that this may be Durant’s last season with the Warriors, but tells Amick that he and his teammates are focused on winning their third consecutive championship, regardless of what happens after that in free agency.

“He’s part of it right now,” Green said of Durant. “Whatever happens this summer happens. Whatever the hell he does, he does. If he goes, he goes. If he stays, he stays. But while he’s here, we’re going to win another championship. It’s just that simple. Nothing else matters.”

After signing short-term contracts with the Warriors in each of the last three offseasons, Durant will have full Bird rights this summer, which would allow for a five-year, maximum-salary contract projected to be worth approximately $221MM. He could max out at approximately $164MM over four years with another team.

However, while Durant’s forays into free agency in 2017 and 2018 were viewed as mere formalities due to an expectation that he’d re-sign with the Warriors, his upcoming free agency feels much different. Multiple reports throughout 2018/19 have indicated that people around the league view Durant as more likely to sign with the Knicks than the Warriors this summer.

If Golden State can complete a three-peat this June, Durant would head into July faced with a decision on whether or not to leave a team that hasn’t lost a playoff series since he arrived.

Bogut Joins Warriors, Cousins Day-To-Day

3:25pm: The Warriors have announced that Cousins’ MRI came back clean. He’s being listed as day-to-day, though he has been ruled out for tonight’s game vs. the Spurs and Medina wouldn’t be surprised if he missed Tuesday’s contest vs. the Wolves as well (Twitter link).

In Cousins’ absence, Bogut will play tonight for Golden State, Kerr confirmed earlier today (link via Medina).

8:48am: With Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins set to undergo an MRI on his sore right foot on Monday, newly-added big man Andrew Bogut will join the club earlier than expected, as Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News outlines.

After flying to the Bay Area from Australia, Bogut was initially expected to get settled in – and recover from jet lag – before meeting up with the Warriors when they return from their current road trip later this week. However, with Cousins at risk of missing a game or two, Bogut will be available for Monday’s game in San Antonio, writes Medina.

It’s not clear whether Bogut will immediately play a major role for the Warriors, but if Cousins is unable to suit up on Monday vs. the Spurs and Tuesday in Minnesota, the former No. 1 overall pick could be asked to step in right away.

Nick Friedell of ESPN.com notes that head coach Steve Kerr didn’t sound too concerned about Cousins’ injured foot over the weekend, so the MRI may just be precautionary. The Warriors have played it safe with minor ailments lately, sitting Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant for a couple games apiece after their MRIs came back clean. I’d expect the club to be even more cautious with Cousins, who returned from an Achilles tear earlier this year.

Durant, meanwhile, is expected to return to the Warriors’ lineup on Monday after missing the last two games, Friedell adds.

Cavs Notes: Durant, Chriss, Knight, M. Richardson

Between the day that the Cavaliers beat the Warriors to win the 2016 NBA Finals and the day Kevin Durant opted to sign with Golden State, Cleveland’s then-GM David Griffin gathered his staff and instructed them to look into possible paths to landing Durant, writes ESPN’s Zach Lowe. As Lowe explains, there was a fear after the Finals that KD would head to the Dubs, and even though the Cavs recognized they had little chance of securing a meeting with him, they wanted to do all they could to explore the possibility.

“I don’t believe you can dream big enough in the NBA,” Griffin told Lowe recently, looking back on that 2016 offseason. “You have to go through the exercise.”

Of course, Durant ultimately signed with the Warriors and the Cavaliers didn’t get a meeting. That second part, at least, came as no surprise, since Cleveland was one of just three clubs during the summer of 2016 that ended up staying over the salary cap despite a huge cap spike that created room for 27 other teams. It would have been extremely difficult for the Cavs to create space to sign Durant, and a sign-and-trade with Oklahoma City would have been a long shot, even if the star forward had considered Cleveland.

It’s hard to even view the Cavs’ failed run at Durant an intriguing what-if scenario, since it never got off the ground at all. Still, it’s a reminder that even the league’s most successful teams will do their due diligence to find ways they can add another star and become even more dangerous — even if the road to an acquisition seems improbable.

Here’s more from out of Cleveland:

  • While many NBA observers and fans questioned the league’s decision to suspend Marquese Chriss for a game after he defended himself from a physical attack from Serge Ibaka, Cavs head coach Larry Drew thought it was the right call, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “Punches were thrown by both guys and I thought the ruling the league made was the right decision,” Drew said.
  • When the Cavaliers acquired Brandon Knight from the Rockets at last month’s trade deadline, he was viewed as the salary dump necessary for Cleveland to secure Houston’s first-round pick. Since his arrival though, Knight has been a regular part of the club’s rotation and has showed flashes of his old self, Fedor writes for Cleveland.com. “He’s the Brandon that I remember,” Drew said. “Probably not as explosive as he’s been in the past, prior to the injury, but still a guy who has a tremendous work ethic and he competes. That’s the thing I admire about him and respect about him. He’s a team player and he’s going to give you everything he has when he’s on the floor.”
  • Former Kings and Raptors swingman Malachi Richardson signed a G League contract and has been claimed off waivers by the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s NBAGL affiliate, a league source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Richardson was traded from Toronto to Philadelphia at last month’s deadline and was subsequently waived by the Sixers.

Kevin Durant’s Ankle Injury Not Considered Serious

The Warriors suffered perhaps their most surprising loss of the season on Sunday night when they fell at home to the lowly Suns. To add insult to injury, or perhaps the other way around, star forward Kevin Durant suffered an ankle contusion in the fourth quarter of the loss and didn’t return to the game, as Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News details. However, the club doesn’t believe the injury is significant.

“I think he’s going to be all right,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Durant. “I don’t think it’s bad. I talked to him briefly. He didn’t think it was too bad.”

Kerr said after the game that he didn’t believe Durant would require an MRI on the ankle in question, according to Medina. Team officials confirmed as much, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, who writes that the Warriors will continue to monitor the issue.

The Warriors have had a couple minor health scares within the last week or two, as Klay Thompson recently had an MRI on a knee injury. Thompson returned to the lineup after missing just two games though, and it sounds like Durant shouldn’t miss much – or any – time either, which is good news for Golden State. Despite the club’s recent up-and-down play, injuries are still considered the biggest threat to the team’s chances of winning its third straight championship.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Jones, Cousins, Bogut

Some members of the Warriors organization are concerned that Kevin Durant‘s recent behavior could be a sign that he already has one foot out the door, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors are coming off a deflating 128-95 home loss to the Celtics on Tuesday, with several figures around the team expressing their displeasure after the game. Among them was Durant, who appeared to be ticked off from the start of his postgame presser, Haynes notes.

“It starts with a passion, and an anger and an intensity, and it wasn’t there tonight,” head coach Steve Kerr said.

Durant was quick to disagree with this when a media member informed him of Kerr’s comment, curiously about his coach’s declaration.

“I thought we move off of joy?” Durant asked, fully knowing “joy” is a phrase Kerr often uses when discussing their style of play. “Now it’s anger? OK. I disagree with that one. I think all around, top to bottom, coaches, players, we just gotta be better.”

Durant tallied 18 points on just 5-of-16 shooting on Tuesday, also recording five turnovers with a minus-20 net rating. Haynes also noted in the same story how some members of the Warriors are not concerned with Durant’s behavior, labeling it as just a common rigor of the regular season.

Durant, a consensus top-three player in the NBA, has the option to decline a $31.5MM player option and become a free agent on July 1.

There’s more out of Golden State today:

  • Damian Jones is unlikely to return this season or during the playoffs despite conducting an on-court workout Thursday, Steve Kerr said, as relayed by Anthony Slater of the The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle in December.
  • Draymond Green defended DeMarcus Cousins after the loss to Boston, explaining why fans shouldn’t blame Cousins for the team’s defensive woes in recent weeks. “I think so many people are kind of looking at the starting lineup and saying, ‘Oh, DeMarcus is in there and the defense is worse,'” Green said, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “But our defense has been horses— no matter who’s in there. It’s easy to look at the numbers and think the numbers tell a story, but the fact of the matter is we haven’t been competing.”
  • Kerr discussed the team’s decision to sign Andrew Bogut on a rest-of-season contract, as relayed by The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “We looked at this as an insurance policy in the frontcourt,” Kerr said. “A guy who obviously knows our system, knows our players. He’s great for our offense — his dribble hand-offs, passing ability, lob threat — and defensively he’s been one of the best in the game for a long time. He had a great season in Sydney. He’s healthy, he’s fresh. He was the best player available for us. We have to look ahead to the playoffs for different match-ups, and we felt vulnerable particularly in case of injury and against certain match-ups.” Bogut isn’t expected to make his debut with the team for at least another week.

Mavericks Notes: Porzingis, Nowitzki, Doncic

Kristaps Porzingis‘ camp contends that a story suggesting that Porzingis didn’t like the idea of playing in New York alongside Kevin Durant is “utter nonsense,” according to Frank Isola of The Athletic. In fact, Isola writes that Porzingis would welcome Durant with “open arms” if the Mavericks were to pursue and land 2019’s top free agent.

While Dallas created additional cap flexibility by trading Harrison Barnes to Sacramento at last month’s trade deadline, the idea of the Mavs signing Durant remains extremely unlikely. It’s possible that Dallas could make a splash in free agency this summer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the top available players remain a little wary of joining the Mavs until they see Porzingis back on the court — and until Luka Doncic gets a little more NBA experience under his belt.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Although it’s not clear yet whether this will be Dirk Nowitzki‘s final NBA season, David Aldridge of The Athletic takes a look back at the German’s career and assesses his place in team – and league – history.
  • Within Aldridge’s story, Nowitzki says he believes the Mavs are set up well for the future: “Luka has obviously exceeded all expectations — we didn’t think he would be this good. We were hoping he would be this good. But he’s been tremendous, and it’s obviously something to build around. And we had a chance to go for a franchise-like talent like KP; you gotta go for it. Most of the league didn’t even know he was available. That was a steal for us. It obviously hurt, trading some of our guys, basically trading four of our five good starters, but with those two around for a long time, hopefully, it will be good for our franchise.”
  • Doncic has been considered a lock for the 2019 Rookie of the Year award for most of the season, but with Trae Young putting up huge numbers in Atlanta, Zach Harper of The Athletic revisits the race to determine whether Doncic still has it sewn up.
  • A 30-point home loss to Memphis on Saturday was embarrassing, but the matchup provided a reminder that things could be worse for the Mavericks. As Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News observes, well-paid Grizzlies veterans Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons were two of the free agents that the Mavs either missed out on (Conley) or opted not to sign (Parsons) in 2016. If that summer had gone differently in Dallas, there’s a good chance that Doncic and/or Porzingis wouldn’t be on the roster now, Townsend writes.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Hayward, Harris, Leonard

The Celtics have been slumping but Kevin Durant believes they’ll be dangerous when the playoffs arrive, as the Warriors star told a group of reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Durant, whose team faces Boston on Tuesday, believes the Celtics are “still getting used to each other” but they’ll be a tough out in the postseason. “They’re right up there at the top,” Durant said. “They’ve been losing a couple games, but they’ve got the top talent, some of the top talent on that team, so they’ll be fine once the playoffs start.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Gordon Hayward‘s agent promises that his client will return to All-Star form next season. Mark Bartelstein made the comments in a WEEI interview that were relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss. “My guess is he doesn’t get his game all the way back where we’re accustomed to seeing it until next year,” Bartelstein said of the Celtics forward. “He’s going to need a summer to get back in the gym and get back in the laboratory and the weight room and build on everything he did last year. But there’s not a doubt in my mind. He’ll be an All-Star in this league many, many times over.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is a big Tobias Harris fan and hopes the team re-signs him, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Brown praises Harris not only for his play on the court but his off-court persona. “I hope he’s a Philadelphia 76er for a long time,” Brown said. Harris, who will enter unrestricted free agency this summer, has enjoyed the ride with his new team since being dealt by the Clippers. “I like it here,” he said. “It’s been a good start that we’ve been able to have, a good group of guys, and the team has a lot of potential.”
  • The Raptors’ load management strategy with star Kawhi Leonard shows disrespect to the team’s fans, Damien Cox of the Toronto Star argues. Leonard has sat out 18 games this season, including an overtime loss in Detroit on Sunday in which many Raptors fans crossed the border to see the game. While the ultimate goal is to have a healthy Leonard for the playoffs, he’s making a huge salary and fans buy full-price tickets to watch him play. To simply shrug off his participation in regular-season basketball is a snub to fans, Cox contends.

Knicks Notes: Durant, DSJ, Hernangomez, KP, Robinson

The Knicks are set to play the Clippers on Sunday, but the real battle between the two teams will be for Kevin Durant in free agency this summer, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Durant, who’s expected to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, will register interest from several teams across the league, including the Warriors, Knicks and Clippers. He’s currently holding per-game averages of 27.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists, shooting above 50 percent from the floor for the seventh consecutive season.

“They obviously have a plan that they have in place that they’re trying to do and execute,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said of the Clippers on Saturday, according to Berman. “To their credit, they’ve built a nice, tough team full of guys who understand their role.”

The Clippers have long been linked to Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, who’s also set to become a free agent in July, though a potential meeting with Durant shouldn’t be ruled out. New York has been linked to the likes of Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.

Los Angeles is set to have $57MM in cap space, but the team could create additional room by trading the likes of Danilo Gallinari or Lou Williams before July. New York created a second maximum-salary roster spot by executing the Kristaps Porzingis trade with Dallas last month.

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Fizdale had a deep conversation with Dennis Smith Jr. about the importance of eating healthy and getting good sleep, Marc Berman writes in a separate story for The Post. Smith went shopping with Knicks dietitian Erika Whitman last week, but denied that his eating habits are a serious issue. “I don’t eat bad,’’ Smith said. “I’m not a bad eater. I eat good. I feel great. The arena is great. I played the whole fourth [Thursday against Cleveland] with no fatigue. I felt great. [Fizdale] wants me to get with those people, with Erika and the rest of the dieticians, and that’s what I’ll do.”
  • Former Knicks center Willy Hernangomez, a close friend of Kristaps Porzingis, weighed in on why he believes Porzingis requested a trade out of New York. “Yeah. Sometimes you can understand the plans change a little bit. I think KP wasn’t happy that they weren’t treating him the best way, the way he really deserves,” Hernangomez told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “I just think when you don’t think you’re a part of the organization or the future, you keep going. This is basketball. I think KP felt that way too. I think now he’s in a great place in Dallas to keep developing.”
  • Mitchell Robinson spoke with Steve Serby of the New York Post for a Q&A session, discussing how good he can become, his thoughts on Fizdale, how he can improve as a player and more. “When I’m not on the court, I’m chill and like just relaxed,” Robinson said. “But when I’m on the court, I bring energy, and bring good defense. I’m gonna do anything in any way to help my teammates get this win.”

Pacific Notes: Kings, Durant, Warriors, Clippers

The Kings came into the 2018/19 season projected to be a 25-win team. They’ve already blown past that projection and continue to vie for a playoff spot in a competitive Western Conference. And in the view of head coach Dave Joerger, the club’s success this season is just the start of something special in Sacramento, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details.

“We’re playing hard and we don’t quit,” Joerger said. “What we’re building here, we will reap the rewards of this for many years to come — not many years from now, but going forward. If this is who we are, and I believe it is, we’re a tough out (in a playoff series) and Sacramento is a tough place to play if you’re a visiting team. We’ll keep coming at you.”

If the Kings’ young players continue to make positive strides, Joerger is right that things should only get better for the franchise moving forward. De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Harry Giles are all in their first, second, or third NBA season, and none are over 26 years old.

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Pacific…

  • Speaking to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports Bay Area, Warriors star Kevin Durant offered a couple interesting answers in a Q&A, suggesting that he won’t be thinking about his legacy when he makes his free agency decision this summer. He also indicated that he doesn’t feel the need to “build something” somewhere. “I don’t need anything in this basketball world to fulfill anything in me. The NBA is never going to fulfill me,” Durant said. “It’s going to make me feel good about all of the work that I’ve put in, but I think those days of me wanting to prove something to anybody or walk around with a huge chip on my shoulder is not my thing.”
  • While Kevon Looney is probably still the Warriors‘ more trusted option, he and Jordan Bell have been trending in opposite directions lately, with Bell taking some of Looney’s minutes, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Both players are eligible for free agency in 2019, so they’ll be looking to finish the season strong.
  • Despite trading away their leading scorer at each of the last two deadlines (Blake Griffin in 2018 and Tobias Harris in 2019), the Clippers remain in the playoff mix and have managed to pull off the enviable feat of retooling their roster without bottoming out, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Armed with young players, some draft assets, and cap flexibility going forward, the Clips are in position to make a splash this offseason.

Irving On Viral Video With Durant: “My Life Is My Business”

A viral video of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — both of whom are set for unrestricted free agency this summer — speaking privately in a hallway during NBA All-Star weekend generated a lot of attention.

Fans on social media speculated both Irving and Durant possibly discussing plans to join the Knicks this summer. New York cleared cap space by trading Kristaps Porzingis earlier this month, creating two max slots. However, Irving said he paid no attention to the social chatter and left the content of his conversation with the Warriors All-Star private.

“Is the internet real for you in your life?” Irving told reporters, including NBC Sports Boston’s A.Sherrod Blakely. “It’s my life, right? It’s two people talking, having a conversation. If it’s the real world, would it be anybody else’s business? It’s a video of someone assuming what we’re talking about, right? Making an opinion about it. So why would I care? Why does that have an impact on my life? Why are you asking me those type of questions? About cooling it off? For what? I don’t get it.”

Both Irving and Durant expressed frustration with the barrage of attention leading into free agency. Given their status as two of the league’s top names, the conversation does not figure to subside until they reach decisions at some point in the summer. As Irving tries to steer Boston in the right direction with the postseason approaching, he said that speculative comments about his future will not concern him.

“What I do with my life is my business. It’s none of yours, none of anybody’s business,” he said. “So it’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of free agency meeting? You get that? Do you get that? And I’m asked questions about it? That’s what disconnects me from all this. I have no connection to all that. Over a video? Every wants to hear athletes talk about (bleep) like this. A video though? To pour water on it? It makes no sense.”