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.

Report: Monty Williams to accept role on Spurs coaching staff next season

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Another smart move by the Spurs.

Monty Williams is one of the better assistant coaches in the NBA right now, and he was available (remember he understandably left Oklahoma City last season after the tragic death of his wife). He’s part of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff with USA Basketball this summer — watch him in practices at age 44 and he’s a better defender plenty of players in the league — and he wanted to get back on the bench.

San Antonio has snapped him up, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that Williams — who left the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench in February after the tragic death of his wife, Ingrid — has been urged by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take as much of a role with the organization as he feels comfortable for the 2016-17 campaign.

The specifics of what role Williams would fill and how much time he could commit have not yet been determined, but sources say San Antonio has opened the door to either a coaching and player-development role or a front-office position (or a hybrid), depending on what he prefers.

One source close to Williams told ESPN that the 44-year-old “absolutely” intends to be a head coach in the league again after his expected stint with the Spurs. The source also said numerous teams, including Oklahoma City, have made similar offers to Williams for next season.

Williams will get another shot in the big chair down the line. In the short term, this is a smart move — nothing looks better on a resume than “Spurs” around the league right now.

Team USA has sing-along on plane leaving Chicago. Well, except for ‘Melo.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States Men's National Team looks on during player intro duction prior to playing the China Men's National Team in a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Team USA had their “Tiny Dancer” moment.

Like “Stillwater” in Almost Famous, Team USA’s Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving were leading a sing-along of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” on the team plane out of Chicago to Houston for the USA’s final exhibition game. Hat tip Alysha Tsuji who pulled the snapchats.

Everyone was loving it… except for Carmelo Anthony, according to DeMar DeRozan.

Melo ain't having it…😂

A video posted by DeMar DeRozan (@demar_derozan) on

Watch Kyle Lowry’s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler in USA win

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There were a lot of ugly things for Team USA in its exhibition win over Venezuela — the 4-of-25 shooting from three comes to mind. There was more, it was not a strong offensive performance from Team USA.

But like usual, we can overwhelm teams with athleticism, and that means wins and highlights. Like Kyle Lowry‘s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler.

Or DeMar DeRozan‘s late-game windmill dunk.

Kyrie Irving helps USA to ugly 80-45 win over Venezuela

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Kyrie Irving #10 of the United States Men's National Team looks to make a move with the ball against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, DeMarcus Cousins powered a dominant performance in the paint, and the United States pulled away from Venezuela for an ugly 80-45 exhibition victory Friday night.

Coming off three straight flashy victories in Las Vegas and California, the United States shot 42.4 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers in by far its worst offensive performance of its five-city tour in preparation for next week’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the Americans used their superior athleticism to limit Venezuela to 24 percent shooting and owned the interior with a 54-29 rebounding advantage.

Returning to Chicago for the first time with the U.S. national team, Bulls star Jimmy Butler was cheered every time he was announced at the United Center. He had four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes in his first start with Team USA.

Butler had one of the few electric plays for the U.S. when he ran out on the break and dunked Kyle Lowry‘s tip pass in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan also had a vicious dunk off a lob from Kevin Durant, and DeMar DeRozan drew chants of “USA! USA!” with a windmill jam in the final minutes.

Klay Thompson also scored 13 points, and Cousins finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Durant had nine points of 3-of-9 shooting.

John Cox scored 14 points for Venezuela, which will play the U.S. again on Aug. 8 in the Olympics.

Irving and company were greeted with a round of hearty cheers when they came out for pregame warmups. Fans lined the side of the court where the Americans had their layup line, and Anthony and Durant posed for pictures with a couple of eager boys.

Before Butler’s introduction drew the most applause of the night, former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau received a thunderous ovation when he was announced with the U.S. coaching staff. Thibodeau took a year off after he was fired by the Bulls in May 2015, and then was hired as Minnesota’s coach and president of basketball operations in April.

The star power also extended to the sideline near the U.S. bench, where former Olympians Scottie Pippen and Dwyane Wade watched the action attentively. Wade was joined by his wife, actress Gabriel Union, hours after he held his introductory press conference for his new contract with his hometown Bulls.

Pippen played on the 1992 Dream Team that rolled to gold in Barcelona, and also helped the U.S. win gold in 1996. Wade was on the Americans’ gold medal-winning teams at each of the last two Olympics.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap