Rumor: Kevin Durant could sign with Warriors

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The Warriors are 30-2 and atop the NBA world.

They could get even better next season.

Golden State didn’t extend the contracts of Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, and the salary cap is skyrocketing. Those factors will give the Warriors plenty of flexibility.

They might use it to try signing Kevin Durant.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

At this point, everything is speculation.

When you talk to some executives, a name that has been thrown will shock people – Golden State.

Now, this is not something coming out Durant’s camp.

There are those around the league that think Golden State is a possibility.

Klay Thompson‘s dad, Mychal Thompson, said last spring the Warriors would pursue Durant. Perhaps, that alone has driven the speculation Durant could sign with Golden State. Or maybe the executives Broussard cites have additional information.

Either way, it certainly seems possible.

The Warriors have eight players under contract for next season: Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut,Andre Iguodala,Stephen Curry,Jason Thompson,Shaun Livingston andKevon Looney. Add a first-round pick (which we’ll pencil in at No. 30) and roster charges, and that’s a team salary of $84,501,199.

With a projected salary cap of about $90 million and Durant’s max starting  salary around $30 million, that won’t cut it.

Livingston ($3 million guaranteed) and Jason Thompson ($2.65 million guaranteed) have partially guaranteed contracts. But waiving those two would still leave significant outlays on the books. Golden State would probably need to trade those two and Bogut to clear enough cap space to sign Durant outright.

If they trade Bogut, Livingston, Jason Thompson and their first-round pick without taking any salary in return and renounce all their free agents, the Warriors would likely have about enough cap room to offer Durant the max (though it’s close enough that it depends exactly where the cap lands).

That’d leave a stripped-down roster of Durant, Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Iguodala, but that’d be an incredible lineup. Golden State would happily start there and figure out the depth and center questions later.

The Warriors could also try swapping Barnes for Durant in a dual sign-and-trade. That’d trigger a hard cap, but that’s the least of the complications. Durant, Barnes and the Thunder would all have to agree. But at least that route could allow Golden State to re-sign Festus Ezeli.

If the Warriors want to keep Barnes while adding Durant, they could ask Oklahoma City how many draft picks they’d have to attach to a sign-and-trade package of Bogut, Jason Thompson and Livingston. Again, that’d leave Golden State hard-capped, but it’d at least be possible – depending on the exact luxury-tax line – to re-sign Barnes.

The Warriors have been down this road before. They made a strong impression on Dwight Howard in 2013, when they didn’t come close to having enough cap space to sign him. They ended up trading substantial salary to the Jazz and signing Andre Iguodala.

Golden State has the ambition necessary to make this happen.

But that’s a long way from saying Durant is interested, and that’s really what matters most.

DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91

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With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.

The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.

It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.

Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors

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Golden State is in Philadelphia, and so are the celebrities.

Kevin Heart — a Philly native — was on hand and he got to ring the bell pregame (a Sixers tradition).

Having him on hand seems to help as the Sixers were hanging around through the middle of the third quarter with a team looking for its 50th win.

Bucks’ Michael Beasley has to be helped to locker room after apparently hyperextending knee

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04:  Michael Beasley #9 of the Milwaukee Bucks in action against Mindaugas Kuzminskas #91 of the New York Knicks during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 4, 2017 in New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Let’s just hope this is nothing too serious.

Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.

The team is calling it a sprain for now.

Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.

Kevin Durant on return to Washington D.C. that never was: “I really just didn’t want to play at home”

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 07:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on December 7, 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 conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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A year or two ago, there was a palpable buzz among Wizards fans — they had a shot to get Kevin Durant. LeBron James had just returned like a prodigal son to Cleveland, and there seemed to be a sense from fans that other stars wanted to go home to play. The Wizards needed another star, they had the cap space, so some saw a path for Durant to return to his native D.C.

Except, a lot of players don’t want to go home again. Not to play.

Durant was one of them, as he confirmed to the Washington Post.

“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.

“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”

Not every Wizards fan will see it this way, but that’s an entirely reasonable thought process. Sometimes in life, we need a change of direction, and for Durant this would have been a step back into the past. The one he made to go to Golden State has worked out pretty well for him so far.

KD is not alone in this. Players see a lot of added stress returning home, both in terms of expectations and the demands of family and friends (asking for tickets, etc.), and some are just not into the idea of a return. The idea that Blake Griffin wants to return to Oklahoma and play for the Thunder may not fit with who he is right now. Russell Westbrook seems to like it in OKC and isn’t itching to get back to Los Angeles (but Paul George might be). Each player is a different case — how they view their hometown, whether they would want to play for the team there  — and each will make his decision.

Durant made his and is comfortable with it.