Kevin Durant

Warriors Notes: McCaw, Durant, Cousins, Evans

Accepting the Warriors’ $1.7MM qualifying offer remains the most likely scenario for shooting guard Patrick McCaw, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. In a column that offers a list of questions for each Golden State player, Slater notes that McCaw’s other options are extremely limited with training camp starting next week.

Despite the summer-long contract standoff, McCaw still enters a positive situation if he returns to the Warriors. The team held a roster spot open for him, and regular playing time appears to be available. Slater reports that Golden State originally planned to pursue Tyreke Evans in free agency, which would have made McCaw expendable, but changed direction when DeMarcus Cousins became an option.

Coach Steve Kerr has expressed a desire to give more rest to his veteran players, which should mean more minutes for younger guys like McCaw, who won’t turn 23 until October. It will also give him a chance to improve on his 4.0/1.4/1.4 career line before taking another shot at free agency next summer.

There’s more on the Warriors, all courtesy of Slater:

  • This is the first time since Kevin Durant came to Golden State that his re-signing doesn’t seem like a sure thing. Durant’s latest contract includes a $31.5MM player option for next season that he is expected to turn down in pursuit of a long-term deal. Durant has made it clear that he has an open mind about where he might play next year, and Slater notes that an early-season trip to New York should amp up the discussion.
  • Cousins has a long way to go until he can play again, and the Warriors can’t begin to answer questions about his fit with the team until that happens. Cousins was considered a major steal when he agreed to sign with Golden State for the $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception. However, nobody knows how much the Achilles tear he suffered last season will affect his game or how he will handle a reduced role in the Warriors’ offense.
  • First-round pick Jacob Evans was just 2 of 18 on 3-pointers during Summer League, which raises concerns about how well he can fit into the offense. The Warriors like the defensive versatility that Evans provides and he’ll be one of the players Kerr is counting on to reduce the veterans’ minutes, but he has to shoot better to get regular playing time.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Williams, Ojeleye, Celtics

Kyrie Irving tops the Knicks’ wish list in free agency next summer because he’s their most realistic target, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston opines. Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard would elevate the franchise even more than Irving but both of those potential free agents would be much harder to land, Blakely continues. Securing Irving’s services won’t be easy, either, but the Knicks have a better chance with the Celtics point guard, who grew up in New Jersey. It’s not only his ability but potential availability that makes him attractive to the Knicks’ front office, Blakely adds. Blakely declared that Irving topped the Knicks’ wish list during a podcast this week.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Bringing in Alan Williams is a low-risk flier for the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The team has been stockpiling big men and rebounders and the 6’8” Williams fits both those categories, Lewis continues. It’s rare to land a fourth-year pro on a two-way contract who has averaged 15 rebounds per 36 minutes over his career, Lewis points out. Williams reached an agreement with Brooklyn on Friday.
  • Semi Ojeleye was probably the biggest beneficiary of Gordon Hayward’s injury last season but he hasn’t established a steady spot in the Celtics rotation, Blakely examines in a player profile. While Ojeleye has shown the ability to defend multiple frontcourt positions and switch out on guards, he’ll simply have to be ready to contribute any way he can with the return of Hayward, Blakely adds. Ojeleye appeared in 73 regular -season games last season.
  • With the return of Hayward and Irving from injuries, it’s tough to find any reason why the Celtics won’t roll to the Eastern Conference title, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports opines. The team’s closest competitors – Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia – can’t match the Celtics’ depth and overall talent, Mannix continues. Even the team’s projected second unit of Terry RozierMarcus SmartJaylen BrownMarcus Morris and Daniel Theis could compete for a playoff spot, Mannix notes.

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, Knicks, Sixers, Kurucs

Terry Rozier is entering a contract year and is one of several productive point guards on a Celtics roster that also features Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and EuroLeague star Brad Wanamaker. As such, it makes sense that his name would pop up in trade rumors, as it did last week when a report indicated he may be on the Suns’ wish list. For his part though, Rozier is unfazed by those rumors, as A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston details.

“It’s only going to get crazier every year, I feel,” Rozier said. “You just have to try and control what you can control. Try to focus on getting better every summer. Getting wiser, thinking about the game. I’m ready to get it going, ready to start the season.”

Even if he remains in Boston through the 2018/19 season, the summer of 2019 will be a big one for Rozier. With Smart locked up to a lucrative new long-term contract, and Irving a candidate for a new maximum-salary deal, the Celtics may not be able to retain Rozier if he draws serious interest from other teams in restricted free agency. Again though, the fourth-year guard isn’t focused on his long-term future for now.

“I mean, I’ll see how it goes for myself,” Rozier said, per Blakely. “I’m not really going crazy. I got a season to worry about. I’m not worried about what’s next for me individually; I’m just worrying about how special this team can be.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • During an appearance on SiriusXM Radio, Enes Kanter said he’s “love to see” Kevin Durant on his team again, adding that he’ll “try to recruit” his former Thunder teammate to the Knicks in 2019 (link via Marc Berman of The New York Post). Of course, Kanter’s recruitment of LeBron James this offseason wasn’t particularly effective, and there’s no guarantee the center will even be a Knick a year from now — Kanter hopes to remain in New York for the long term, but will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
  • Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the only long-term certainties for the Sixers, so the team’s new general manager should be a creative thinker who isn’t afraid to shake up the rest of the roster if it moves the team closer to title contention, writes David Murphy of Philly.com. The 76ers are considering both external and internal candidates as they seek a new head of basketball operations.
  • Nets second-round pick Rodions Kurucs said during an interview with LTV Sport Studio in Latvia that he expects to spend some time with the Long Island Nets in the G League during his rookie season, as relayed by NetsDaily. Kurucs, the 40th overall pick in the draft, signed a four-year deal with Brooklyn, so the club figures to be patient with his development.

Western Rumors: Rozier, Williams, Durant, Rockets

The Celtics’ Terry Rozier and the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie are two of the logical trade targets for the Suns in their search for a point guard, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Rozier is a solid two-way player coming off a career year but the Suns would likely have to offer a package that included an unprotected first-rounder to catch Boston’s attention. A trade for Dinwiddie would be more plausible and he’d be a good fit with Phoenix considering his size, perimeter shooting and pick-and-roll prowess, Urbina continues. The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Cavaliers’ George Hill and the Hornets’ Kemba Walker are some of the other names Urbina throws out as potential targets. The Suns are searching for a starting point guard after trading away Brandon Knight to the Rockets last week.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans signed Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams and Garlon Green to partially-guaranteed contracts in the hope of finding one reliable small forward, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate notes. That trio will compete for a roster spot, though the potential addition of swingman Tyrone Wallacesigned to an offer sheet on Monday — could change that. “They just told me they’re bringing some guys in and having them go head-on to see who wins a spot,” Kenrich Williams told Kushner.
  • By buying out Luol Deng‘s contract and using the stretch provision, the Lakers gave themselves a chance to offer Kevin Durant a max salary in free agency, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders examines. The Lakers now project to have $38.2MM in cap space, which would be just enough to afford Durant, Pincus continues. If they can’t land Durant, they’ll certainly have enough to bring in another All-Star level talent. Other high-level potential free agents, including Kawhi Leonard, Klay ThompsonDeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Walker and Kyrie Irving, could command a first-year salary of $33MM, leaving the Lakers with another $5MM to spend in other ways, Pincus adds.
  • The Rockets took a frugal approach this summer and it could cost them a title, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post opines. They traded away Ryan Anderson and allowed two key wing players to walk in free agency. In turn, they signed three players on veteran’s minimum deals and adding a couple of bench players in the Anderson trade, Bontemps notes. So while Houston execs had said they were unconcerned about the luxury tax, their actions showed they wanted to save some money, Bontemps adds.

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

And-Ones: 2019 FAs, MVP Odds, Oldest Vets

An ESPN panel was asked where they think some of the top-projected free agents of 2019 might end up next summer. The results were interesting, with the panel making a prediction for five players: Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

As we explored earlier this summer, both Irving and Butler have reportedly expressed interested in playing together, and the panel obviously took that into consideration, predicting both players to suit up for the Knicks next season. However, the Celtics were a close second for Irving.

Interestingly, the Lakers were the second-highest voted selection for both Butler and Thompson, and the first-place selection for Leonard by a wide-margin. Meanwhile, both Thompson and Durant are projected to return to the Warriors.

We have more from around the league:

Warriors Notes: Durant, Ownership, Future

Kevin Durant is not only one of the top players in the NBA, he’s also one of the league’s most outspoken figures. Whether it’s his blunt honesty on social media or weighing in on social issues, Durant’s comments are never far from the forefront.

Durant spoke to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated on LeBron James‘ decision to sign with the Lakers, praising the three-time NBA champion’s move.

“I thought it was the perfect decision, the perfect move,” Durant said. “He did everything you’re supposed to do in Cleveland, the perfect next step for him. He’s kind of breaking down the barriers of what an NBA superstar is supposed to be. You feel like you’re supposed to just play it out in one spot. I think he did a good job of giving you different chapters. And it’s going to make his book more interesting when it’s done.”

Durant also weighed in on Golden State signing All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, a move that drew a wide range of criticism from around the NBA.

“It was expected. Nobody likes a great thing. Greatness is rare, it’s different, and people don’t like different, so I get it,” Durant said. “But I think for DeMarcus I liked his approach, our approach to it, coming in, wanting it just to be about basketball, once you look at it that way, it works out perfectly.”

Check out more Warriors notes below:

  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic (subscription required) looked at how the Warriors’ current ownership group came into power and how the current team has been formed.
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic (subscription required) writes about why the Warriors are not concerned about the possibility of having to pay upwards of $300MM for their roster due to luxury tax penalties. “I feel like we’ll do whatever we can to keep winning,” Warriors’ president Bob Myers said. “And I think the players will do whatever they can to keep winning — not knowing what that will exactly look like.”

Western Notes: Capela, Durant, Leonard, Williams

Clint Capela‘s new five-year contract with the Rockets on Friday, initially reported to be worth $90MM, is technically guaranteed for $80MM with $10MM in incentives, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. Those annual incentives include $1MM for reaching the Western Conference finals, $500K for finishing with a 30% defensive rebounding rate, and $500K for shooting at least 65% from the free throw line, according to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post (Twitter link).

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Kevin Durant‘s decision to take a one-plus-one contract with the Warriors kept his options open beyond the upcoming season, as he explained to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Durant will make $30MM the first year with a $31.5MM player option for the 2019/20 season. “The [one-plus-one] was the perfect thing for me to do, to keep things open for me — financially and what I want to do,” he told Charania. “It’s just one of those things.”
  • The Celtics offered at least two of the first-round picks they own from other teams for Kawhi Leonard, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Those picks, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes, include the higher of the Kings’ and 76ers’ pick next summer, unless it’s the top overall pick; the Grizzlies’ first-rounder, which is top-eight protected next summer and top-six protected in 2020; and the Clippers’ pick, which is lottery-protected the next two summers and then converts to a second-rounder. The Spurs instead decided to take another All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, in a package for Leonard. The way the Spurs organization treated Leonard may have had more to do with his departure than any issues with his teammates, Feldman notes in a separate piece, relaying reporting from Lowe and ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
  • C.J. Williams is a perfect waiver claim candidate, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Williams, who was waived by the Clippers on Friday, is on a $1.4MM non-guaranteed contract with $125K in protection if he’s not waived by opening night, Marks continues. His $1.6MM salary in 2019/20 has a $200K guarantee if he’s not waived by the first game, Marks adds.
  • The Nuggets’ second unit will likely be led by Mason Plumlee, Isaiah Thomas, Trey Lyles and Torrey Craig, Chris Dempsey of the team’s website predicts. Dempsey dispenses his views on recent developments involving the club in his latest mailbag.

Pacific Notes: McLemore, Davis, Curry, Durant, Knight

Shooting guard Ben McLemore and power forward Deyonta Davis probably won’t stick around with the Kings, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area speculates. That duo was acquired, along with a future second-rounder, from the Grizzlies on Tuesday for veteran guard Garrett Temple. Adding a draft pick and clearing a little more cap space attracted Sacramento to the deal, Ham continues. McLemore joins a crowded backcourt and he could be waived or his $5.4MM contract could be bought out. Davis has a team-friendly $1.5MM salary but also doesn’t have an obvious role with the current roster.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Temple trade gives the Kings more than $20MM of cap room, making it a smarter move for them than the Grizzlies, in the eyes of Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Sacramento can use that additional wiggle room take on bad contracts or chase a restricted free agent, Pelton continues. The 2021 pick it acquired could very well wind up being at or near the top of the second round if Memphis goes into rebuild mode, Pelton adds.
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry has decided to skip next week’s USA Basketball mini-camp, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports. Curry wants to spend more time with his family. Golden State forward Kevin Durant will take part in the mini-camp, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets.
  • The Suns will head into the season with Brandon Knight as the starting point guard unless they make a trade, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic declares in his latest mailbag. If Phoenix strikes a deal, the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley would be an obvious target because of Los Angeles’ backcourt logjam, Bordow adds.
  • The Clippers will promote their G League coach, Casey Hill, to Doc Rivers’ staff with coaching associate Brian Adams replacing Hill at Agua Caliente, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). Natalie Nakase will be promoted to Clippers player development staff, Wojnarowski adds.

Kevin Durant Re-Signs With Warriors

JULY 7: The Warriors have made it official, announcing that the team has re-signed Durant.

JUNE 30: Kevin Durant will inform the Warriors tonight that he prefers a one-year contract with a player option for 2019/20, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Durant intends to sign a contract for those terms sometime after the moratorium ends, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes (Twitter link). It will provide the maximum that Durant can receive on a one-year deal based on his 2017/18 salary, giving him $30MM next season with a $31.5MM option for 2019/20 (Twitter link).

The move saves some money next season for the Warriors, who will be well into the luxury tax, and it sets Durant up for a possible five-year contract with full Bird Rights next summer, when the cap is projected to rise to $109MM.

Golden State currently holds Early Bird rights on Durant, which would permit him to sign for a salary starting at $35,654,150. However, an Early Bird contract can’t span fewer than two guaranteed years, so the team will have to use his Non-Bird rights to honor Durant’s request. That will mean a 20% increase, taking him from $25MM to $30MM.

That savings of about $5.6MM will be huge for the Warriors, who face a significant tax bill for every dollar they spend. They may now be more inclined to use their taxpayer mid-level exception, which starts at $5.337MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.