Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard silly season opens up. The Thunder? Will not happen.

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With all Dwight Howard trade action — to the Rockets, to the Lakers in a three-team deal with Cleveland, to anyone — in a holding pattern, speculation is starting to run wild.

Not rumors. Not “hey, GM X talked to the Magic to put in a bid.” But rather random, rampant speculation from the media and fans about things that are never going to happen.

Case in point, some fans and media are running with what John Rhode of the Oklahoman wrote.

OKC could throw its name into the Howard hopper and offer Kendrick Perkins, James Harden and Eric Maynor in a Howard sign-and-trade with Orlando, but doing so would abandon the Presti Plan and give the perception he had gone about things all wrong.

Then again, it potentially could result in an NBA title or two with a starting lineup of Howard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka, not to mention a season record for blocked shots and a high-dollar existence above the league’s luxury tax. Presti is booking that slow and steady eventually will win the race to the NBA crown, which is why the Thunder is a tortoise in a league filled with hares.

Rhode’s piece is just saying that the Thunder have stuck to their plan — a plan that has worked out pretty well. If there are  Thunder fans not happy with how things are set up in Oklahoma City I know 28 other fan bases who would trade spots with you. Tomorrow. Sorry if it wasn’t fast and sexy enough for you, but what you have now is the model most teams try to build on — smart drafting of a powerful core. Each year they got better and this time made it to their first NBA finals.

OKC, you have not had a team for that long, so let me give you some advice — enjoy the journey. If your mentality is “title or bust” you’ll come off as arrogant, entitled Lakers fans. You have as good a young core as there is in the game, good players and good people who are fun to watch. Savor that, it is too rare. The titles will come. They will. Let them and enjoy the journey because that is the fun part, not the end result.

As for the people who want to jump on this idea, know there is no way this happens. No. Way. It will not even be discussed. Because neither side would do it.

First, you have title chemistry in OKC and that is hard to get, and there is no way GM Sam Presti blows that up to go way over the cap to win. Does that mean you don’t get to play the game like the Knicks financially? So what, how has that worked out in NYC? The NBA is not the MLB — smart drafting and management wins, not buying a team. (And don’t say the Heat bought a team, they drafted Wade and took a huge risk stripping their payroll to make their play. Are you going to tell me Pat Riley wasn’t the smartest guy in the room?)

Secondly, the Magic wouldn’t do this.

What does Orlando want in a deal? Well, that’s been a little hard to tell, but apparently it is cap relief, young players and picks. OKC doesn’t have a lot of great picks. And while Harden is good and Maynor is nice, but the Magic are not taking Perkins back. And they want you to take on Jason Richardson and or Hedo Turkoglu in a deal. This isn’t about getting talent for Howard, it’s about stripping the team down to the foundation and rebuilding. Using the Thunder model. This deal doesn’t offer that.

We’re going to see a lot random speculation now as the Magic have let this drag on and on and on. I just hope it ends soon. I fear if the Mayans were right, the world could end before this saga does.

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

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For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.

Kevin Durant brushes off free-agency speculation: “Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision”

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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It goes without saying that with the Thunder and Warriors playing each other for the first time on Saturday night, Kevin Durant free-agency talk has been at an all-time high. The hot rumor this week is that the Warriors are the frontrunners to land Durant this summer, which would shake up the league like nothing since LeBron James going to Miami.

Obviously, all parties were going to be asked about it before the hotly anticipated game. And obviously, all parties were going to downplay it. That’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what Durant said, via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Rusty Simmons:

“Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out, but right now, I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level to lead every day at practices, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task. I can’t focus on anything else, other than that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also downplayed the speculation:

“I don’t know why anybody would talk about anything but the fact that we’re 45-4 and have a hell of a team,” said Kerr, who hasn’t addressed rumors about Durant favoring the Bay Area as a future destination with his players. “Why would anybody talk about some different team, future stuff and other players?

“Focus on our team. We’re pretty good.”

On both sides, that’s the appropriate way to respond publicly. Not that this is going to go away anytime soon. They play each other two more times this season, once in Oklahoma City and once more in Oakland, and this is going to get brought up then, too. And just like Saturday, nobody will give a definitive answer. Nor should they. Nobody will know anything until July 1. But until then, it will be impossible to quiet the chatter.