David Atkins

Latest On Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is unlikely to sign with the Wizards this summer because he doesn’t want to deal with the pressure of being surrounded by family, friends and hangers-on from his native Washington, friends of his tell Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Instead, the Warriors and Spurs will be in the mix for him with the Celtics a darkhorse, Mannix writes, reiterating his report from March, when he also cited Golden State, San Antonio and Boston.

Durant’s lack of fondness for the Wizards doesn’t have to do with Scott Brooks, who’s reportedly agreed to become the team’s next coach, as Mannix details, and indeed, Durant made a point of praising the former Thunder coach last week. The one-time MVP has largely been mum over the years about the possibility of joining the Wizards, despite rampant speculation, and he downplayed the idea when asked about it in 2014, as Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman notes.

Still, the Wizards will encourage Brooks to retain assistant coach David Atkins, who was a high school assistant coach for Durant, as TNT’s David Aldridge hears (Twitter link), and they’ll nonetheless make their long-planned effort to sign Durant this summer, according to Mannix. The Warriors instead have appeared to be significant front-runners to land the four-time scoring champ should he decide to leave the Thunder, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in February, though Mannix puts Golden State on equal footing with the Spurs in his latest report. It was widely believed the Celtics would move onto Durant’s radar, Mannix wrote last month, and the latest dispatch from the scribe who also works for CSN New England suggests that Boston would be Durant’s top Eastern Conference choice if he wants to escape the brutal competition atop the Western Conference.

People around the NBA sense that Durant is “very much in play” and that a decent chance exists he’ll leave Oklahoma City, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck said recently, though Durant’s mother this week cited his loyalty to the Thunder, at least in terms of maintaining focus on the playoffs.

Eastern Rumors: Boozer, Blair, Durant

Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report details how the Heat’s maneuvers to accommodate the Big Three back in 2010 are now proving costly with the departure of LeBron James. The Heat’s 2015 first round pick–given to the Cavs as part of James’ sign-and-trade to Miami–is still owed to Cleveland, and Miami is still paying Mike Miller‘s amnestied contract while the sharpshooter is on the verge of re-teaming with LeBron in another city. Here’s more from the East:

  • The Hawks, reportedly one of the favorites to place a bid on Carlos Boozer, took a step in that direction, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders confirms the team has officially slipped beneath the cap (Twitter link).
  • The Mavs promised DeJuan Blair that they would try to sign-and-trade him to give him a financial boost, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and indeed it appears Dallas is close to sending him to the Wizards via sign-and-trade,
  • The Wizards will bring University of Maryland women’s assistant coach David Atkins as an assistant coach for player development, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. A handful of rival executives see it as a sign that Washington has begun to position itself to make a run at Durant, a D.C. native, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link), since Atkins was one of Kevin Durant‘s high school coaches, fellow ESPN scribe Mark Stein notes (on Twitter).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.