Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Durant’

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Led by Russell Westbrook‘s triple-double tear for the ages, the Oklahoma City Thunder fared quite well in their first season without former NBA MVP Kevin Durant, winning 47 games and advancing to the playoffs, though they did get bounced in the opening round.

Nonetheless, the Thunder are well equipped to return to prominence in the Western Conference in 2017-18 after acquiring Paul George. Along with Westbrook and center Steven Adams, Oklahoma City has an elite Big 3 at its disposal that Durant isn’t exactly looking forward to battling with the Golden State Warriors.

“But they got Russ and PG and Steven Adams to be their Big 3. I think if they feed off each other, it could be great,” Durant told The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “I’m a fan of the game. So I can see if something is going to work or not and I think that’s going to be a really, really great pairing. It’s going to suck for us and the rest of the league. But as a fan of the game, it’s going to be tight to see how they work that thing out.”

The West in general has undergone a major transformation in a short period of time. The Houston Rockets landed Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a huge splash to acquire Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap signed with the rising Denver Nuggets. That doesn’t even take into account the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers, who won’t be easy outs themselves.

Golden State won 67 games in 2016-17, and lost just once en route to its second title in three years. Durant realizes it’s going to be much more difficult to replicate that level of success in the revamped West, yet he’s ready to face that challenge head on.

“It is a new landscape. And I like it. I don’t know how it’s going to work together, but I can’t wait to see it all. It’s going to be fun every night,” he added. “You’re going to see what you’re supposed to be seeing, not a bunch of dudes you know aren’t good on the court. There’s going to be a bunch of talent on the floor, top to bottom.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo may have “loyalty inside his DNA,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean the 22-year-old phenom will remain in Milwaukee for the entirety of his career.

The Bucks forward was non-committal when asked about his future in Milwaukee, saying that many players have expressed their desire to stay in a particular city before bolting for greener pastures.

“A lot of people say they’re going to stay on a team and decide to move to a different team,” Giannis said at a recent event in Manila, Philippines. “But you guys got to remember: A guy might want to stay on a team, but the team doesn’t do the right things and the right moves for the player to become great.”

The 2017 All-Star added that Kevin Durant gave every indication that he planned to stay with the Thunder, but ultimately left Oklahoma City after the team failed to win a title.

“KD, the reason he wanted to stay in OKC was to win, right? So, they didn’t win the championship,” Giannis said. “That’s why he decided to leave. So do not hate only the player, because sometimes it’s not up to the player.”

While Giannis’ comments may be a little unsettling for Bucks fans, the 6-foot-11 forward still has four years remaining on his contract, and he won’t become an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2021.

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Golden State Warriors star and reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant is making his way to India next Thursday.

“I’m excited to travel to India to help promote the game of basketball and meet the prospects at the NBA Academy India,” Durant told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “I’ve wanted to visit India for a long time, and I can’t wait to experience the country’s unique culture and share my knowledge with the kids there.”

As part of his journey, Durant will arrive in New Delhi and donate two basketball courts to the Ramjas School on behalf of his charity, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.

He’ll then host a massive youth basketball clinic in Noida at the NBA Academy, with roughly 5,000 male and female kids from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program slated to participate.

“We are thrilled to host 2017 Finals MVP Kevin Durant in India,” said NBA India’s managing director Yannick Colaco. “Kevin is coming off a historic season with the Golden State Warriors. Having one of the very best players in our league interact with the basketball-playing youth of India will serve as great inspiration to the next generation of players here, especially the high-performing prospects at the NBA Academy India.”

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The cost of doing business has risen significantly for the Golden State Warriors this offseason, and it’s put the team over the budget that owner Joe Lacob set.

“Joe is good in that we had a number heading into free agency as to what the budget was, and we’re way over it,” general manager Bob Myers told the Warriors Plus/Minus podcast with Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson.

This had been expected for some time, however. The Warriors were fortunate enough to have Stephen Curry on a bargain contract the last few years, something that helped them sign Kevin Durant last summer.

Yet in the last few weeks the Warriors locked up Curry to a five-year super-max contract, inked Durant to a two-year, $53-million deal, and re-signed Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Zaza Pachulia. They’ve also added players in free agents Omri Casspi and Nick Young.

In all, approximately $335 million has been spent by the Warriors since July 1, putting their salary commitments for 2017-18 alone at about $136 million. That’s well into tax territory, with the luxury tax threshold set at $119.3 million next season.

Still, Myers says as long as the Warriors are winning, it’s worth it to Lacob.

“Here’s the thing to know about Joe,” Myers said. “He’s really competitive, and he wants to win. And so you have to balance that, like anyone does, with running a business. … you have to balance spending with running a business with trying to win championships.”

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Kevin Durant chose winning over money.

Durant will agree to re-sign with the Golden State Warriors at a significantly discounted price of $53 million over the next two years, sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

The second year of Durant’s deal will be a player option, Haynes added. Durant will likely sign a longer deal next summer when it is more advantageous for the Warriors.

This agreement falls well short of the $31-million per year maximum Durant could have signed for, but the discounted structure of his deal is by design. This reduced rate allowed the Warriors to retain Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala without going too deep into the luxury tax.

In that sense, Durant’s contract mirrors that of how the Big Three of the Miami Heat took discounts to preserve the supporting cast. But Durant is doing the Warriors a massive favor based simply on finances, since Golden State already had the ability to exceed the cap for Livingston and Iguodala. This move was strictly done based on saving the Warriors money.

That raises the issue of cap circumvention, and more importantly, it weakens the position of the players’ union which wants the most money for its athletes. LeBron James just last week mentioned how Stephen Curry should be paid $400 million if it weren’t for the salary cap. Durant taking less to save money for his team owner cuts directly against the position of the NBPA.

But from Durant’s perspective, gifting this discount allows his team to be stronger. Thanks to this, the defending champions were able to return all their core pieces while also keeping an eye toward their future finances. That gives Durant the best opportunity to add more rings to his resume, which is the main reason he went to Golden State.

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Kevin Durant has no intentions to host another nauseating round of free agency pitch meetings with desperate suitors in the Hamptons.

Durant is set to become a free agent once again this summer, but this decision will be fairly simple: He will remain with the Golden State Warriors.

“I haven’t even thought about it that much but I don’t plan on going anywhere else,” Durant said on the Warriors Plus Minus podcast.

The Warriors have been wildly successful in their first season as the supervillains of the league.

They weren’t able to replicate their 73-win performance from last season, but the ridiculously stacked Warriors remain the league’s most visible franchise and are heavy favorites to win their second title in three seasons.

The only possible reason for Durant to even consider leaving is the issue of money.

Durant, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston could all become unrestricted free agents this summer. Keeping all four at something near their market value would easily rocket the Warriors into the luxury tax.

The issue is further complicated by Durant’s lack of Bird rights. The Warriors can exceed the salary cap to retain longtime stalwarts in Curry, Igudoala, and Livingston, but the newcomer in Durant would most likely need to be signed using cap space provided that he receives a raise over his current salary. This scenario will most likely require for the four players to sacrifice for one another.

Durant sees the entire situation being resolved in the summer, where the Warriors’ key free agents can make a collective decision.

“Obviously you want to keep this group together, you want to see how far we can go. I’m sure once the season is over with we can figure out that stuff, everybody, and I’m sure it will all work out for the best.”

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After being jilted by Kevin Durant last summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder were faced with the task of constructing a new, entirely Russell Westbrook-centric team structure.

Thanks to Westbrook’s ludicrous, record-smashing season, the first phase of that project has gone about as well as anyone could’ve hoped. And make no mistake: Thunder general manager Sam Presti very much sees this season as phase one.

“I think he’s getting better,” Presti told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Sunday, after Westbrook recorded his 42nd triple-double of the year (breaking Oscar Robertson’s single-season record) and eliminated the Denver Nuggets from playoff contention with a game-winning 30-footer at the buzzer.

“I think he’s become a better player. With players at that level, it’s generally going to happen in these small, incremental ways unless the circumstances change around you. In this case, the circumstances obviously changed. The team is different. It’s been a season of discovery for our team and our organization.”

The Thunder had previously gotten a glimpse of what a team revolving around Westbrook’s incandescent star might look like. Durant spent most of the 2014-15 season on the shelf, and Westbrook produced some astonishing individual results after taking the reins, winning the scoring title and averaging 31.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 9.9 assists after the All-Star break. That team ultimately fell just shy of the playoffs, but it helped write the blueprint for how the Durant-less Thunder might thrive.

They are, by Presti’s admission, very much still honing that blueprint. While the front office has surrounded Westbrook with size, athleticism, and defensive mobility, the supporting cast still lacks depth and is woefully short on spot-up shooting threats, leaving the offense overly reliant on Westbrook. But the team didn’t have much time to adjust to their new reality in the wake of the Durant bombshell, and Presti is confident they’ll find the right alchemy as they continue to learn more about who they now are.

“There’s a discovery period for Russell that’s taking place, and we’re at the very front end of that,” he said. “We’re not making any bones about that. We haven’t had a tremendous amount of time to understand and to build. It’s going to take some time, but I will say that if this is the first year of that process and project for us, he’s made it very exciting.”