Kevin Durant has a reputation of being not only one of the best basketball players in the game, but also as one of the most genuine human beings to be associated with the league today. And he keeps doing things to solidify that image.
After a devastating tornado ripped through parts of Oklahoma, Durant personally donated $1 million to relief efforts. This was by no means mandatory, but his sparkling gesture moved the Thunder organization to match the donation with another million, and the NBA teamed with the players union to kick in a million more.
But Durant didn’t stop there. He asked his biggest sponsor to help with the relief efforts as well, and they came through just as you’d expect.
Reached out to my @nike fam to see if they could help Oklahoma.They’re in. gonike.me/OKC
“Nike will donate footwear and apparel valued at approximately $1 million to assist those communities most in need via Good360, a nonprofit organization that will distribute the product to prequalified charities. In partnership with Kevin Durant, we will also donate all profits from the sale of his signature shoe, the KD V Elite, sold on nike.com between May 23 and June 15 in equal amounts to Kaboom, a national non-profit that rebuilds playgrounds, and the Moore Public School Foundation, an Oklahoma organization that supports the Moore Public School District.”
In addition to the financial commitment, Durant personally spent time touring the damage and interacting with those affected. The NBA has an entire program set up which encourages teams and players to participate in a minimum number of charitable functions each year. It’s much nicer, however, when one one of the game’s biggest stars recognizes a need and decides to take care of it himself.
Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) —LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.
James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.
Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.
James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.
James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.
“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”
It looks like Denver will ride with the younger Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay at point guard — a risky proposition. Nelson stabilized the position in the event Murray or Mudiay weren’t ready for bigger roles. The Nuggets aren’t hedging their bets now, which puts plenty of pressure on Murray and Mudiay.
Murray should be fine eventually. Mudiay’s promise is far less certain. But this is a team trying to reach the playoffs now, and it might have to ride out growing pains from its point guards without Nelson as a safety net.
Richard Jefferson became a late entrant into free agency when the Cavaliers traded him and the Hawks waived him.
But the forward is landing on his feet.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Free agent forward Richard Jefferson is closing in on a one-year, $2.3M deal with the Denver Nuggets, league sources tell ESPN.
Jefferson could help the Nuggets, who look primed to end a four-season playoff drought. They were set to squeeze backup small-forward minutes behind Wilson Chandler out of the undersized Will Barton and oversized Juan Hernangomez. Jefferson is far more comfortable at the position.
He’s 37 and doesn’t offer long-term upside, but he’s a savvy defender and still pretty athletic. He picks his spots well enough offensively to help on that end, too.
But Denver also has a deep roster that already had 15 players on standard contracts. There’s not an obvious cut to make room for Jefferson, though the Nuggets clearly have something planned.
Sixers to keep Joel Embiid’s minutes in teens to start season, he’s not happy
Joel Embiid wants to get on the court, he wants to unleash himself on the NBA this season. After three seasons of being bottled up — even in the 31 games he has played there was a minutes restriction — Embiid wants to impose his will on the league.
He’s going to have to do that in less than 20 minutes a night, at least to start the season.
“I don’t really know if there’s a solid number,” Brett Brown said Monday after practice. “I can tell if you were to choose a number, it’s somewhere in the teens.”
“I didn’t know about that, but that’s very disappointing,” Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. “I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice.”
The Sixers being cautious with Embiid is about as surprising as the last Transformers movie sucking.
That said, if any particular game is close going into the fourth quarter don’t be shocked if Embiid breaks his minutes limit — this is a team that wants to start winning, and that means keeping their best players on the court longer. If Saturday night against the Raptors Brett Brown thinks giving Embiid 22-23 minutes helps get them the win, he will. The goal will be to get him up to the high 20s by the end of the season.
The real test for these Sixers will not be how the offense fairs with Embiid sitting — they have guys that can create and knock down shots if needed, such as Ben Simmons or J.J. Redick – instead it’s how well they can defend with him resting.
Report: Spurs signing LaMarcus Aldridge to two-year, $50 million contract extension
Piecing this together, Aldridge is exercising a $22,347,015 player option for 2018-19. That means his extension is worth $50 million over two years will carry him through age 35. All in all, Aldridge is now under contract for four more seasons.
Aldridge is a borderline All-Star, and he raises San Antonio’s floor. His back-to-the-bask mid-range games remains reliable, and he’s a willing defender. Him signing this deal should end pining for greener pastures, but it certainly won’t force him into diligent acceptance of his role forever. Players can become discontent whenever they please.
This extension significantly limits the Spurs flexibility the next two summers and maybe even in 2020, depending on Aldridge’s guarantee in the second year of his extension. They seem fine with that, perhaps believing they already have enough to topple the Warriors if Kawhi Leonard is healthy.
With Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Patty Mills all under contract for the few years around Leonard, San Antonio should remain stably good. But will these deals for aging veterans limit the Spurs’ ceiling? That’s the risk for an organization that has built its identity on championships and already has a young, in-his-prime superstar who has proven capable of being the best player on a title team.