The initial fears about Kevin Durant‘s knee injury might not be realized.
This intentionally vague update still leaves many questions, the most important of which: How healthy will Durant be for the playoffs?
Durant is so skilled, even hobbled, he probably deserves a spot in the Warriors’ rotation if he can get on the court. But the degree to which he’s healthy could play a large part in whether Golden State wins a championship.
However much time Durant misses in the regular season, the Warriors can get by by leaning more on Andre Iguodala and signing Matt Barnes. Golden State is up four games for the No. 1 seed, a big advantage with a little more than 20 games remaining — especially considering the Warriors still have Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Plus, there’s a chance Durant returns to get acclimated before the playoffs — and maybe help Golden State
All in all, this is great news for the Warriors. They might not be the overwhelming favorites they were before Durant got hurt, but they’re still the most likely team to win the 2017 title.
That said, there’s still enough uncertainty about Durant’s recovery to leave the door open for the Cavaliers and a deep pool of Western Conference challengers.
The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report for the Raptors’ 92-91 win over the Knicks on Monday included three incorrect calls.
All three were Toronto guard Cory Joseph getting away with a foul.
He got away with an offensive foul on a possession where the Raptors didn’t score anyway. He got away with a loose-ball foul going for a rebound New York secured anyway and while the Raptors weren’t in the penalty.
But let’s focus on the missed call of consequence.
Joseph should have been called for committing an offensive foul on Lance Thomas with 33.3 seconds left, per the league:
Joseph (TOR) is not in a legal screening position and continues moving into Thomas (NYK).
A correct call would have ended Toronto’s possession with a turnover.
Instead, DeMar DeRozan came around Joseph’s screen and drove for a layup. That helped set the stage for DeRozan’s game-winner with 1.9 seconds left.
Kevin Durant hyperextended his knee last night, and the early indications look bad for him and the Warriors.
Golden State is reportedly waiving not-yet-signed Jose Calderon to add Matt Barnes, another forward. And now comes this leak.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Durant underwent an MRI late Tuesday night to survey the knee damage, and team officials and members of Durant’s inner circle were expressing fear early Wednesday morning that the severity of Durant’s injury could preclude a return to the Warriors lineup before the start of the Western Conference playoffs in six weeks, league sources told The Vertical.
Some close to Durant feared the damage could sideline him even longer, league sources said.
Durant missing part or all of the postseason, or even not being fully healthy for it, would have major ramifications in the NBA’s balance of power.
A team led by Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson would still be pretty good. Remember, the Warriors also have Andre Iguodala at small forward.
But Durant’s injury could elevate the Cavaliers into championship favorites. It opens the door for the Spurs, Rockets, Jazz and Clippers in the West.
Perhaps the Warriors and Durant’s camp are just being pessimistic. Maybe this injury won’t turn out as bad as feared.
But the stakes are extremely high here, and Durant being sidelined long-term could be legacy-defining — in Golden State and beyond
Knicks president Phil Jackson isn’t always reachable.
But those complaints have come at lower-stakes moments, like when the team’s biggest star is upset, in the middle of the season and during a coaching search.
Surely, Jackson was available in the lead up to the trade deadline, right?
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
One NBA general manager told me last week in New Orleans that his team “can’t get a hold of Phil. It’s crazy.”
Jackson makes $12 million annually to delegate to Steve Mills. And their boss, Knicks owner Jim Dolan, says he’ll keep this arrangement in tact.
On one hand, good for Jackson bilking Dolan. Wouldn’t we all love a high-paying, barely-show job if we could get one?
On the other hand, this is just getting sad for the Knicks. They made no trades before the deadline then released Brandon Jennings. No-trade-clause-holding Carmelo Anthony, whose value is diminishing, can’t get on the same page as Jackson, because Anthony doesn’t even know what book the franchise reading. Joakim Noah is likely out for the year, and the aging injured big man still has three more costly years remaining on his contract.
Just a few years of Jackson’s negligence could cost the Knicks deep into the future.
But at least he drafted Kristaps Porzingis.
So much for a last-day contract renegotiation-and-extension between the Jazz and George Hill.
Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah can technically sign Hill to a contract extension through June 30, but without it tied to a renegotiation, available only before March 1, that’s unfeasible.
Hill will become an unrestricted free agent. The Jazz will hold his Bird Rights and can pay any amount up to the max to keep him.
But he’ll be 31, and four- or five-year contract could be be burdensome on the back end. Hill rejecting a renegotiation-and-extension — which could have given him a $13,644,808 raise this season and three additional years for $75,039,844 — suggests he wants that longer deal.
And maybe the Jazz will give it to him. Hill has been exceptional, and their window to win is open. Making Dante Exum the starting point guard would present huge risk.
First, letting the renegotiation window pass has ramifications this season. Not only do the Jazz have $13,644,808 in cap room, they’re $4,230,508 below the salary floor. That money to the floor must get used one or another. Perhaps, Utah plays the waiver wire. Unfortunately, it’s too late to claim one player who could have fit reasonably well: Deron Williams.