Kevin Durant

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.

Kevin Durant Discusses Rival Teams’ Offseason Moves

The NBA had one of its most unpredictable offseasons in recent memory and Kevin Durant, who joined the Warriors last offseason before re-signing with them this summer, believes Golden State’s moves have caused other teams to be more active. Durant was particularly impressed with the Rockets’ acquisition of Chris Paul, as he tells The Ringer’s Bill Simmons.

“I think it was a great move,” Durant said. “You put two guys together that — crafty with the ball like that — they’re going to get everybody shots, and they’re going to get each other shots, so it was a ballsy move to pull off by [Daryl] Morey. And I don’t think nobody would have thought to do that, because especially when you’ve got James, who basically plays your point guard, you really have to have some type of clarity when you’re making a decision like that. Because it’s just like, you played well last year, but this — he cannot sustain this. You gotta know that. You can’t; just look at the numbers. So you can tell that he’s actually seeing some stuff within this team. He’s paying attention.”

The move gives James Harden, who played alongside Durant for three seasons, an opportunity to play alongside a future Hall of Famer and it gives the team an opportunity to compete with the Warriors this season. Harden isn’t the only former teammate of Durant’s who received help this summer, as Oklahoma City added Paul George from the Pacers. According to Durant, Indiana made a foolish trade.

“[The trade] was shocking because Indiana just gave him away,” Durant said before adding that he envisions George playing significant minutes at the four spot this season. The 2013/14 continued to discuss OKC, telling Simmons that his former team needs one more addition. “They need another wing,” Durant opined.

Durant went on to talk about another one of his former teammates—Dion Waiters. The 2013/14 MVP believes Waiters, who re-signed with Miami on a four-year, $52MM deal this summer, could have received an even larger deal had the shooting guard been more dedicated earlier in his career. Waiters previously discussed how he didn’t get in “world-class shape” until he inked a deal with the Heat last offseason.

Kevin Durant Weighs In On Cavaliers’ Situation

It may seem like the Cavaliers have a unique problem on their hands with Kyrie Irving requesting a trade. However, Kevin Durant tells Chris Haynes of ESPN.com that trade requests routinely occur behind the scenes without the media learning of them.

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant said. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

Having a deal in place by the time training camp begins would avoid a potential distraction. However, if Irving isn’t moved by then, Durant believes Irving and LeBron James would eventually work out their differences.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Earlier in the week, Durant played pickup basketball with James and Carmelo Anthony among others. The 2013/14 MVP downplayed the event.

“If somebody wants to hoop, we just hoop. We just went out there and played, bro. Nothing too serious,” Durant said.

Durant Says He Will “Never” Sign With Knicks

Last offseason, Kevin Durant was a free agent and the Knicks hoped to get a meeting with the 2013/14 MVP. They didn’t get one and it appears they won’t in the future should he hit the market again, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News explains.

A fan asked Durant when he was going to play for New York’s team during a portion of the star’s promotional video, which was filmed in the Big Apple. Durant was direct in his answer, telling the New Yorker “never.”

It appears the Knicks are still recovering from years of reputational damage even after exiling Phil Jackson and ushering in a new regime. The franchise hasn’t had much luck attracting top talent to play for the team since it re-signed Carmelo Anthony to his current deal back in 2014.

In 2015, LaMarcus Aldridge scheduled a meeting with New York during the opening week of free agency only to cancel it later after Jackson told him that the organization wanted Aldridge to play “strictly” center. Dwyane Wade, who met with New York last summer before signing with the Bulls, represents the last free agent fresh off an All-Star appearance to sit down with the club.

Several stars, such as LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Paul George, can hit the free agent market next offseason and it’ll be interesting to see which, if any, of the league’s marquee players will schedule a meeting with the Knicks. It seems likely that Durant, who has the ability to hit the market for the third consecutive offseason should he opt out after the 2017/18 campaign, will not headline that list.

Warriors Notes: Durant, George, G League

After taking a pay cut this year to help the Warriors keep their roster intact, Kevin Durant cited Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki as other players who have been willing to accept less over the years in order to help their respective clubs build winning squads. Speaking to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Durant suggested that outside observers wanted the rising cost of the Warriors’ roster to break up the team, and he wanted to do his part to make sure that didn’t happen.

“They were all underpaid and I knew at some point they’d want to get what they deserve,” Durant said of teammates Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry, and Shaun Livingston. “So I just took a step back and let the chips fall where they may. Then I took it in my hands. I wanted to keep the team together and I thought it was going to help the ownership bring all the guys back. And on top of that, it’s my money. It’s my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it.”

Slater’s Q&A with Durant, which is worth checking out in full, also included a discussion of some revamped Western Conference contenders, the recruitment of Nick Young, and an offseason trip to India.

Here’s more out of Golden State:

  • After suggesting recently on Tim Bontemps’ podcast that he expects the Warriors to pursue Paul George in free agency next summer, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic does a little damage control, writing that he has no inside information on Golden State’s interest in George. As Kawakami explains, the Warriors are simply the type of franchise that will go after virtually any top free agent that fits their style of play, and George’s two-way skill-set and expiring contract fit that bill for 2018. The odds of the Dubs actually landing George are probably slim, Kawkami notes.
  • The Santa Cruz Warriors – Golden State’s G League affiliate – have named former University of Kansas standout Aaron Miles as their new head coach, the club announced in a press release. “Aaron has stood out as a leader at every stop in his playing career and as a collegiate assistant coach,” GM Kent Lacob said in a statement. “We are confident that he will be a tremendous fit for our team and our organization as we look toward the 2017/18 season and beyond.”
  • For more news, notes, and rumors on the Warriors, be sure to check out their team page.

Players Who Can Veto Trades In 2017/18

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but one such provision has been the subject of much discussion so far in 2017, with Carmelo Anthony making use of his NTC to block the Knicks from sending him to an undesirable destination. At this point, Anthony is focused on joining the Rockets, and is reportedly unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to go to another team.

Anthony is one of just three NBA players whose contract includes an explicit no-trade clause, but there are still several players each year who have the ability to veto trades. A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who signs an offer sheet and has that offer matched by his previous team. Players who accept qualifying offers after their rookie deals expire can also block deals, though no restricted free agents have signed their QOs so far this year.

Taking into account that list of criteria, here are the players who must give their consent if their teams want to trade them during the 2017/18 league year:

No-trade clauses

Players whose offer sheets were matched

  • Otto Porter (Wizards)
    • Note: Even with his consent, Porter cannot be traded to the Nets during the 2017/18 league year.

Players accepting qualifying offers

Players re-signing for one year (or two years including an option)

In addition to the players listed above who can veto trades through the 2017/18 league year, there’s another small handful of players who can’t be dealt under any circumstance until at least next July. The following players signed a Designated Veteran Extension this season, which precludes them from being traded for a full calendar year:

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.

Stephen Curry Asked Warriors About Taking Discount

The Warriors are bringing back just about all of their key free agents involved in last season’s championship run, and Kevin Durant‘s willingness to accept a discount on his new deal helped the team to make those moves. Stephen Curry, who received the largest contract of Golden State’s offseason, tells Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic that he also asked the Warriors about the possibility of taking a discount to accommodate other players.

“I actually asked [GM] Bob [Myers],” Curry said. “If I were to take a discount — at any number, I don’t know what it would be — how much of a difference would that make for us to be able to sign other guys. It wasn’t like [Durant’s] situation. His had a direct impact on us being able to sign Andre [Iguodala] and Shaun [Livingston]. And it was just an unbelievable sacrifice by KD. But mine didn’t matter.”

It’s true that it made much more sense for Durant to accept a discount than Curry. The Warriors held Curry’s Bird rights, meaning the team could make him a five-year maximum salary offer without affecting other free agents. If Curry had taken a discount on the first year, it would have impacted his earnings in all future seasons as well, since raises are limited to 8% annually. Durant, on the other hand, is likely to opt out of his new deal in 2018, so he’ll likely trade a few million dollars this year for a larger – and longer-term – payday a year from now.

If Durant had wanted a max deal of his own this offseason, the Warriors probably would have had to renounce both Iguodala’s and Livingston’s cap holds to make it happen, since the club didn’t hold KD’s full Bird rights.

Still, Durant accepted an even more significant discount than he needed to, allowing the Warriors to avoid going as deep into the tax as they otherwise might’ve. That aspect of Durant’s discount didn’t technically have an impact on the amount the Warriors could offer their free agents by CBA rules — it simply reduced the club’s projected tax penalties, perhaps making ownership more willing to spend on other players.

When considering Curry’s and Durant’s new agreements, it’s also worth noting that Curry was underpaid for the last several seasons, having just finished up a four-year, $44MM contract. He won two MVP awards and two titles during the life of that contract, so it made sense for the Warriors to reward him with a full max deal.

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