Fun video of Kobe Bryant making it a rough night for OJ Mayo and the Memphis Grizzlies. As he has done so many others. But watching him in slow motion — and the reactions of Mayo trying to stay with him — gives you a real sense of just how difficult he is to defend.
Despite the Warriors recruiting him throughout the season – to the point it reportedly bothered his Thunder teammates – Kevin Durant was widely expected to re-sign with Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison even reportedly left a dinner with Durant on the eve of free agency with the impression Durant would stay.
Did Durant deceive the Thunder in any way?
Donovan, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
I think Kevin on the front end was very, very honest.
When the season ended, he was going to go through this process, and he was going to take a meeting with us obviously first and then he was going to have some other teams he was going to meet with. And I think a little bit later on, after the season ended, they decided to do it out in the Hamptons.
But I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball. We talked about our team. We talked about direction, talked about obviously his leadership, his role – all those kind of things. And I think, leaving the meeting, it was very, very, I thought, positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides.
And the one thing I think with Kevin was that going through nine years with the organization, he was at a point in time where he was allowed obviously to be this free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting.
So, obviously, I think, being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously, after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind probably changed.
Durant looked at ease in his season-ending press conference. Many in Oklahoma City interpreted that as evidence Durant was content there. I saw someone with enough self-confidence to make any decision in free agency he desired.
I don’t know everything Durant said or implied to members of the Thunder organization. But from afar, it seems like there was a lot of wishful thinking in Oklahoma City entering free agency that turned into bitterness toward Durant once he left.
So, I appreciate Donovan’s candor. As a former college coach, his perspective is welcomed. Decommitments happen in a system where a decision can’t become binding until a later date – and I’m not sure Durant ever committed to the Thunder or indicated he would. And if he did, so what? They knew they still had to get past that Warriors meeting.
The organization continues to take the high road publicly, as it should. If Durant lied along the way, I haven’t seen credible evidence – and Donovan is vouching to the contrary.
The NBA permits teams to begin the regular season with 15 players.
The Celtics are the only team with 16 players who have guaranteed 2016-17 salaries.
So, it’ll be an intriguing preseason in Boston, where the early battle lines are already being drawn.
Several league sources have indicated that second-year guard R.J. Hunter, third-year forward James Young, 27-year-old wing John Holland, and rookie forward Ben Bentil will compete for the last roster spot. Young and Hunter have guaranteed deals, Bentil has a partial guarantee, and Holland is nonguaranteed.
This probably comes down to Hunter (No. 28 pick in 2015) or Young (No. 17 pick in 2014). I’d be surprised if Boston keeps Holland or Bentil.
Hunter and Young, both shooting guards, have failed to make a dent in the NBA. Young has had more time, but he’s also nearly two years younger than Hunter. Both deserve patience the Celtics can’t afford to give due to their roster constraints.
Other teams should be monitoring this competition with the intent of scooping up the loser – maybe even trading for him to preempt the waiver wire and free agency.
The Celtics would have little leverage in a deal, and they know it. They went down this road last year and waived Perry Jones III, who was still on his guaranteed rookie-scale contract. Maybe the lesser of Hunter and Young will hold more value, but it still won’t be much.
Now, his ownership stake could be tied up in court.
Collapsing oil prices in late 2014 strained the new oil-and-gas empire he had assembled, and he struggled in his final year to raise more cash to keep it afloat.
Oklahoma records show he had pledged assets as collateral for loans, including his roughly 20% stake of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, fine wine, investments in tech startups and antique boats.
Lawyers for Mr. McClendon’s creditors have said they think Mr. McClendon, who during his Chesapeake heyday was a billionaire, left behind more debt than assets. The entrepreneur’s debts so far amount to about $500 million, according to Oklahoma probate records.
But Martin Stringer, a lawyer for Mr. McClendon’s estate, said claiming it is insolvent is “incorrect” because “nobody has the facts,” according to a transcript of a May probate court hearing. The value of many assets “depends on commodity prices,” he added.
Mr. McClendon’s creditors, which so far range from Wall Street banks to a former employee to a farm-equipment maker, have until Sept. 16 to file claims.
Clay Bennett remains the Thunder’s controlling owner, so the team will likely remain stable. But there’s still potential for this to get a little messy.
What’s next for Marshall and Pleiss?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports on Marshall:
several league executives still believe there’s a spot in the league for him as a backup point guard.
Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:
If so many executives believe Marshall belongs in the NBA, he’ll get signed. I have some doubts.
Marshall was curiously undervalued when he was younger and healthier. Now, he’s coming off a dreadful season in Philadelphia. A 2015 torn ACL still raises major doubts about Marshall’s ability to play even tolerable defense. His outside shooting has also regressed after blooming with the Lakers and Bucks.
Still, he’s a plus passer and just 25. He has a chance.
Pleiss is also coming off a lousy year, and he’s even older. He’ll turn 27 in the season’s second week, though he has played only one NBA season – and most of it was in the D-League. The 7-foot-3 Pleiss has plenty of size and a little shooting touch, but the 76ers don’t have playing time behind Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid to develop him. Pleiss likely returns to Europe.