During a recent ESPN/Grantland Bill Simmons podcast, Kevin Durant sang the praises of his former teammate Kevin Ollie — “[Ollie’s] mindset, his professionalism, every single day. And we all watched that, we all wanted to be like that, and it rubbed off on Russell [Westbrook], myself, Jeff Green, James Harden.”
That would be Ollie the head coach of the UConn Huskies, your NCAA national champions.
Now let’s play a hypothetical game: Say you are one of those teams that in 2016 is going to try and pry then free agent Kevin Durant out of Oklahoma City, and for fun say you are in the next couple years hiring a coach to lead that team…
You can bet NBA teams are going to knock on Ollie’s door. Starting this summer.
NBA GMs were (anonymously, of course, otherwise they get a massive fine) telling Jeff Goodman of ESPN that the league will come after Ollie soon.
“It’s just a matter of time,” said one NBA general manager. “The league will come calling. He’s a great communicator and has a calm demeanor. This win alone, however, doesn’t just tilt the scale. It breaks it.”
“He would be excellent,” another GM said following Monday night’s victory. “He’s a stud. He understands the NBA, he’s a leader, has faced adversity and fought through it.”
One NBA executive told me that whichever team (or teams) makes a run after Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent, “will throw the whole ATM after [Ollie].”
Money is one thing NBA teams can offer — Ollie will make $1.3 million next season at UConn (without bonuses) and a number of NBA teams can and would crush that offer.
That doesn’t mean Ollie wants to leave UConn, a place that as an NBA player he would say he wanted to return to, calling it “home.” It does mean that UConn would be wise to give the man a raise and put some healthy buyouts in his next contract.
But that is not going to stop the NBA from calling. The question is what does Ollie want? Right now he is the guy with all the leverage. And an NCAA title.