Durant should get a max deal this summer

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durant.jpgJuly 1 is the first day the Oklahoma City Thunder can offer to extend the contract of their rising superstar Kevin Durant. They can offer a contract that kicks in after his rookie deal, potentially locking him up for five years beyond the one he has left (plus a potential qualifying offer).

And if they give him a max deal, one of the game’s biggest stars will stay in one of the NBA’s smallest markets. That’s what he told FanHouse.

Yeah, that’s what I want to do,” Durant said about signing an extension when he first is eligible, which would be after negotiations can start July 1 and until Oct. 31. “I want to be here. I want to be part of this organization.”

If the Thunder this summer offers Durant a maximum contract extension, which would be in the neighborhood of $80 million over five years, Durant will reach quickly for a pen.

“If they did offer that, that would be something that nobody could turn down,” Durant said. “I would be blessed and privileged and honored. But, at the same time, I’ve got to keep working. … It would be good (to sign this summer). To know that I can be with a team for a couple (more) years will be cool.”

There are only a handful of players in the league who truly deserve a max deal. Players who not only deliver on the court, but fill buildings to see them play, who sell jerseys, who draw free agents in to play with them and sponsors to the building. Durant is entering that elite group.

When you have one of those players in the organization, you do anything and everything to keep them and keep them happy. The hardest part of building a championship team is getting that key piece — finding the Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade or Tim Duncan. There simply are not many of those players. When you have one, you hold on tight.

You do not wait a year to sign them because a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011 might well save you a few bucks on this deal. You do not just extend the qualifying offer then see what the market will bear. You do not insult him that way — and it would be an insult.

Durant, even with a max contract, is going to make the Thunder money. He drives the television ratings that lets the franchise charge more for local deals. He drives season ticket sales and renewals. He is the one team sponsors want to be associated with. He sells jerseys. Save money by not offering the role players around him oversized deals. There are times and places to be smart with your money.

But the smart money is offering Durant a max extension on July 1.

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.

 

 

Video of Kawhi Leonard struggling to board team plane concerning

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The San Antonio Spurs have been very tight lipped about how serious Kawhi Leonard‘s ongoing quadriceps issue is. He hasn’t played in the preseason or now the start of the regular season, with no timetable for his return. Part of that is the nature of the Spurs organization, but it leads to the feeling there is something more there.

Now surfaces this video of Leonard gingerly, slowly making his way up some stairs to the team plane, and it’s concerning.

To be fair, there is a real lack of context here, but according to the San Antonio Express-News, he had just come out of a rehab session. That means he might have been especially sore (and could have been iced up for the flight).

Still, this video makes one think it could be a while longer before we see Leonard back on the floor for San Antonio. (By the way over the past three seasons, including this one, the Spurs are 15-4 when Leonard sits. They will be fine short term.)

Nike “very concerned” after LeBron James’ jersey rips on opening night

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In the team’s first preseason game, the jersey of the Lakers’ Tyler Ennis was torn in the back with a tug from an opponent. Everyone made tearaway jersey jokes and moved on, thinking it was a one-off situation.

Then LeBron James‘ jersey ripped down the back on opening night, on national television.

Now Nike is looking into the issue, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

Nearly three days after one of its jerseys tore in the first regular-season game of its new deal with the NBA, Nike released a statement Friday expressing worry about the issue, without offering insight as to what happened or what will be done.

“The quality and performance of all our products are of utmost importance,” the company said in a statement. “We are obviously very concerned to see any game day jersey tear and are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”

This is the first year Nike has the NBA apparel contract, having just taken it over from Adidas. They made the jerseys similar to what had been done for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where there were no issues, but these jerseys are lighter than the former Adidas ones. It’s unclear what, if any, changes could be coming.

Like many of the jerseys from opening night, LeBron’s ripped one is being auctioned by the NBA to raise money for hurricane relief.