UPDATE #2 6:24 pm: It is official, Durant is going to sit out the Celtics/Thunder Friday night matchup due to a sprained ankle suffered Wednesday night against the Rockets. An MRI showed no structural damage, but it’s too much to play through. The Oklahoman had a quote from the man.
“After the game, I think it got worse,” said Durant, the league’s leading scorer at 28 points per game. “Maybe I should have come out in the first quarter. But I just wanted to help my team win. And I felt if I was on the floor I was helping my team.”
James Harden will start in Durant’s place against Boston. Durant played in all 82 games for the Thunder last season — their luck with injuries was one of the secrets to them getting 50 wins. Jeff Green also will sit out this one for OKC.
UPDATE 2:58 pm: Durant told Lisa Saulters of ESPN that he is “50/50” for tonight. Which sounds a lot like questionable or game time decision. Phrase it however you wish, the result is the same.
12:32 pm: Two nights ago the Boston Celtics took on a Brandon Roy-less Blazers team, catching one of those breaks of the schedule. Friday night they may pick up another.
Kevin Durant is officially questionable but more likely is out for tonight’s Thunder/Celtics matchup due to a sprained ankle, according to a tweet from Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. That means James Harden will start in his place. I like James Harden, quality player. He’s no KD.
Jeff Green also is out for the Thunder, with Serge Ibaka starting in his place at the four (which helps the Thunder defense out).
Without those two, it’s Russell Westbrook against the Celtics defense. In hostile Boston Garden. That’s a rough one. Maybe they get a Ewing Theory bump, but a lot of things need to go right for the Thunder now.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.