Report: Magic ‘targeting’ Thunder, Spurs executives

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Now this is more like it.

No more Shaq nonsense. No more ridiculousness. The Magic are reportedly in pursuit of interviews for three members from the Spurs-Thunder tree for their open GM position. From Yahoo! Sports:

Thunder vice president and assistant general manager Troy Weaver and Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey have been targeted, and Orlando has been granted permission to talk with Weaver, sources said. The Spurs’ OK of permission for Lindsey is imminent, sources said.

Orlando has also been granted permission to speak with Oklahoma City’s assistant GM Rob Hennigan, who came into the league with the Spurs.

via Thunder, Spurs executives among strong candidates for Magic’s GM – Yahoo! Sports.

The hiring of any of those targets would be a move in the right direction for the Magic, who need to move past temporary solutions and desperate maneuvers to keep Dwight Howard and establish a culture of winning in Orlando. Weaver has worked in the past with the Thunder’s D-League team, helping to develop young talent which have gone on to play for OKC and in some cases start elsewhere.

It would be interesting if Lindsey were hired and Dwight Howard traded, if for no other reason than it would make two former Spurs front office members hired within two years who wound up having to trade their superstar. Former Spurs assistant GM Dell Demps joined the Hornets in 2010 and wound up having to move Chris Paul.

But this is the kind of move that the Magic are desperately in need of. They want to win now. But that’s not really feasible, given conditions. Better to put themselves into a long-term position by establishing a culture that can succeed. Hiring members of the two organizations to most successfully do that over the past five to ten years is a good way to do that. The Spurs have won because of Tim Duncan, the Thunder because of Kevin Durant. But they’ve also won because management hasn’t acted imprudently, has drafted well, and built a culture of sustained success.

This is the way you rebuild.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

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LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.