Draymond Green called Kevin Durant the night of Game 7 loss to Cavaliers in 2016 Finals

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The Golden State Warriors are just one game away from an NBA championship. This time around, it feels more secure. This time, the Warriors have Kevin Durant.

But as we ponder inevitabilities and what could have beens, the Warriors are just happy they get a chance for redemption. Surely, after Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 due to an incident with LeBron James, they have to breathe a sigh of relief.

This plan has been the works for some time. But on Thursday, a story from ESPN’s Zach Lowe showed just how soon the Warriors put the gears in motion after the Cleveland Cavaliers raised the Larry O’Brien at Oracle.

Via ESPN:

“I look at it as we lost the Finals, but we ended up with KD,” Green said. “That’s a helluva consolation prize.”

Green was already working on that as he left Oracle Arena after that gutting Game 7 loss. Green sat in his car in the parking and called Myers, telling him he had to sign Durant. “It’s on you,” Green told Myers.

Green hung up, stayed in the parking lot, and made another call — to Durant. “That was my very next call,” Green said. Two weeks later, Durant signed a maximum contract that put him in a Golden State uniform for at least one season, with several more seasons likely to come.

“If we win the championship, I’m like 99 percent sure we don’t get him,” Green said. “There are silver linings to everything.”

Whoo, boy. That is real quick.

Lowe’s article is worth reading, as there are other nuggets in there including quite a bit about how the Warriors felt about Green after his outburst at LeBron.

Green has since said he feels responsible for the Finals loss but would not do anything differently.

Hey, it got them Durant and an easy path to more likely Finals appearances. Looks like it all worked out for Golden State.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.