Dan Feldman

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Did Russell Westbrook direct another outfit at Kevin Durant?

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This is Russell Westbrook‘s fondness for fashion at its most delectable.

In one of his infamous third-person tweets, Kevin Durant explained his problem with the Thunder’s supporting cast beyond Westbrook: “Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.”

Well, Westbrook showed up for a preseason game in an “ADPOT A CAT” shirt.

Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

Coincidental? It’s technically possible, but after Westbrook wore a photographer’s vest to another game in an apparent shot at Durant, you’ll never convince me this shirt wasn’t also directed at the Warriors star.

Whether or not Westbrook and Durant are truly feuding, Westbrook appears to enjoy making understated public statements at Durant’s expense. So, that’s fun for all of us.

Jeff Green flushes down on Ian Mahinmi (video)

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Jeff Green grew up in Maryland, went to Georgetown then returned to Washington to play the Wizards yesterday.

The Cavaliers forward dazzled in his homecoming with fantastic dunk over Ian Mahinmi.

Via NBC Sports Washington:

Nearly as good as the dunk? The Cavs bench’s reaction.

Becky Hammon coaches Spurs in preseason

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Becky Hammon, the NBA’s first female full-time assistant coach, has broken another barrier.

After coaching the Spurs’ summer-league team to the 2015 title, she coached the main squad in a 122-100 preseason win over the Nuggets on Sunday.

Hammon, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“It’s an amazing opportunity for me,” Hammon said. “But we’re a teaching program, and that comes directly from [Popovich]. So for him to give us this opportunity and the guys here a different voice, that’s what his [coaching] tree is kind of all about. It’s mentoring and bringing people along.”

Similar to how he rests his stars and occasionally empowers lesser players with big roles, Gregg Popovich has sat himself during the preseason. After Hammon coached the first half against Denver, another assistant, Will Hardy coached the second half. Assistant Ime Udoka coached an earlier exhibition.

It’s a nice opportunity for everyone involved, but it’s especially noteworthy for Hammon, who could become the NBA’s first female head coach. Her track is being watched a little more closely, and this is another step toward history.

Thunder give big minutes to stars, still barely escape Melbourne United

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Russell Westbrook (28 minutes), Carmelo Anthony (31 minutes) and Paul George (39 minutes!) set personal preseason highs for playing time… and the Thunder still nearly lost to Melbourne United.

Oklahoma City escaped with an 86-85 victory over the Australian team in an exhibition game on Sunday, but not until withstanding a dicey closing. Melbourne United had the ball down one with the shot clock off and got off two shots, both blocked by Josh Huestis.

NBA teams can look far from themselves in preseason games, resting rotation players and relying on end-of-roster scrubs. But that mostly wasn’t the case here. Steven Adams and Andre Roberson also started and played big minutes. Patrick Patterson and Alex Abrines were the only notable absences, and Terrance Ferguson got minutes off the bench.

Still, Westbrook (3-for-10), Anthony (6-for-19) and George (5-for-17) all shot poorly. Melbourne United – led by former NBA players Casper Ware and Josh Boone – played competitively and physically. An upset lurked.

The Thunder avoided that embarrassment and maybe learned a few lessons in the close call. Because of the win, this will soon fade. And maybe they’ll be better for the experience.

But, today, this result certainly raises eyebrows.

Three questions the Brooklyn Nets must answer this season

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The NBC/ProBasketballTalk season previews will ask the questions each of the 30 NBA teams must answer to make their season a success. We are looking at one team a day until the start of the season, and it begins with a look back at the team’s offseason moves.

Last Season: 20-62

I know what you did last summer: The Nets traded for D'Angelo Russell, leveraging a willingness to absorb an overpaid Timofey Mozgov. The same strategy also netted DeMarre Carroll (plus draft picks) and Allen Crabbe. Brook Lopez departed in the Russell trade, but Brooklyn drafted Jarrett Allen to groom at center.

THREE QUESTIONS THE NETS MUST ANSWER:

1) How will D’Angelo Russell develop? Russell is now the Nets’ most valuable asset, at least until they can finally use their own first-round pick again in 2019. He wasn’t ready for prime time, on or off the floor, with the Lakers. But he’ll get an opportunity to grow in Brooklyn. He’s just 21. His future remains largely uncharted.

Russell has shown flashes, but he must ease into a more efficient offensive role. He can accomplish this by tightening his shot selection or, ideally, successfully making more plays in his high-usage role. It’d also help if he became a better defender, though plenty of guards skate by on that end if they excel offensively.

Brooklyn is fortunate to have such a promising player. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson is known for his player-development abilities. Russell will be his most important charge yet.

2) How will Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Allen develop? Russell gets his own section, but the Nets have wrangled a few other players on rookie-scale contracts who could contribute to a winning team some day. From hiring Atkinson to its playing style, Brooklyn is seemingly emphasizing player development. If these players progress nicely, the light at the end of the tunnel becomes a little brighter.

LeVert must turn his promise into steadier production. Hollis-Jefferson must improve his jumper or become more comfortable as a small-ball power forward. Allen must learn to handle contact.

The Nets should give all three plenty of opportunities to work through their shortcomings.

3) Can Jeremy Lin, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Timofey Mozgov, Trevor Booker and Quincy Acy make Brooklyn respectable? The Nets will probably be bad. But with their first-round pick going to Cleveland and their second-round pick going to Philadelphia or Charlotte, they have no incentive to be.

Brooklyn has the aforementioned veterans, players capable of contributing to winning teams. Lin was mostly injured last season. Acy was a mid-season addition. Crabbe, Carroll and Mozgov are newcomers. The Nets will miss Lopez, but they’re now far deeper with productive veterans.

The No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference isn’t the highest bar. It still seems extremely unlikely Brooklyn seriously enters the playoff, but there’s no reason not to try. Even winning 30-something games and being more competitive would be worthwhile considering the lost draft picks. Again, even that might be too lofty, but the Nets will give it their best.