Dan Feldman

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder holds the ball in front of Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during the game on November 23, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Paul Pierce on Kevin Durant: ‘You don’t go join the team that just put you out,’ but new generation less hungry

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Paul Pierce didn’t seem on board with Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors:

Now, we can be clear: Pierce isn’t on board with Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.

Pierce on SiriusXM NBA Radio:

I’m an old-school guy. I’m a competitor. I never believed that – when you want to be the best, you’ve to beat the best. That’s always been something that’s driven me. Today’s day and age, a lot of these guys are friends. That’s like if Bird decided to go play with Magic or something. These guys, I think the competition makes the game what is.

And Oklahoma, I felt like, was a contending team. They had Golden State on the ropes. I understand when you have great players on losing teams who are tired of losing, struggling in the playoffs every year. You’re the lone star. I’ve been in that position. I could have left Boston years ago, but I stuck it out. I just feel like when you’re that close, as a competitor, you don’t go join the team that just put you out.

That’s just me personally, but we’re living in a day and time where there’s a new generation. Guys I don’t think they are as hungry or competitive as my generation was, and that’s why you’ll probably see more of that.

Pierce asked the Mavericks to trade for him in 2005 so he could play with Dirk Nowitzki on a team one star away from contending. In 2007, he reportedly told the Celtics to trade him if they didn’t add a second star. Boston, of course, traded for Ray Allen and then convinced Kevin Garnett to waive his no-trade clause. In 2013, Pierce helped engineer a trade to the Nets. He and Garnett joined Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez in Brooklyn and Pierce said, “We’re all about winning a championship and Brooklyn, we feel, gives us the best opportunity.” After stints with the Nets and Wizards, Pierce signed with the Clippers, which he described as a super team.

Yes, Durant did something slightly different by joining the team that knocked him out of the playoffs. But does that lone factor really demonize Durant and absolve Pierce for his own career of using his power to join with better teammates? Not to me.

But something, something millennials.

Dwyane Wade says he, LeBron James eyed Bulls in 2010 free agency until Heat made room for Chris Bosh too

MIAMI, FL - MAY 24: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls walks up court as LeBron James #6 (C) and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat look on in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 101-93 in overtime. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Chicago, like many teams in 2010, pushed hard to sign LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The difference between the Bulls and everyone else outside of Miami: They nearly got LeBron and Wade.

So says Wade.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

This is where Pat Riley deserves a ton of credit.

LeBron and Wade joining Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago could’ve been special. But the Bulls would’ve had to trade Luol Deng just to fit two of LeBron, Wade and Bosh.

The Heat cleared enough cap space for all three, making a bigger splash and appealing more to the free agents. Riley expertly positioned Miami to win this competition.

But it still leaves the great “what if?” of LeBron and Wade in Chicago.

Rumor: NBA could open expansion bidding this season

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver shot down expansion earlier this year.

But with a revised Collective Bargaining Agreement in the works, could that open the door?

Kevin Nesgoda of Sonics Rising:

I’ve heard that once the CBA is finished, the expansion bidding could be announced as soon as December or as late as the All-Star Game in February. There are going to be numerous other cities competing with Seattle to get the expansion franchises as well.  I do not know if there is just going to be one slot or two.  Other cities I’ve heard that are going to be making a play for expansion are Louisville (they have all their affairs in order and ready to go), Pittsburgh, Omaha, Las Vegas, Vancouver, BC, and Mexico City.

I’m pretty ambivalent on expansion.

Would it be cool for Seattle to have a team? Yes. Should Seattle taxpayers contribute a large amount of money so a billionaire can bring a profitable (for him or her) business to town? No.

Would it dilute the talent pool? Yes. Is the talent pool too weak already? No.

And that’s just as an outsider. The current 30 owners would need a lot of money up-front to turn their 1/30th shares of profit into 1/31st shares.

Perhaps, someone will pay to enter the league. There’s a lot of money to be had.

But I’m more skeptical something gets done so quickly.

Russell Westbrook on Kevin Durant calling Warriors selfless: ‘Cute,’ apparently Thunder are selfish

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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It’s hard to hear anything Kevin Durant says about the Warriors and not take it as an insult to the Thunder. See this Durant quote, via Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:

You can feel it when you walk in the door, in the practice facility, everybody is just together. That’s something that I can appreciate as a basketball player and someone who values relationships. You can tell that that’s what they stand on, that’s what we stand on. I feel really grateful to play for a team like that and play with a bunch of players who are selfless and enjoy the game in its purest form. They make it about the players, they make it about the environment, so it was really an easy choice.

Is Durant implying the Thunder weren’t selfless?

Russell Westbrook seems to think so.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

That’s cute, man. That’s cute.

My job is to worry about what’s going on here. We’re going to worry about all the selfish guys we’ve got over here, apparently. So, we’re going to figure that out.

Not every compliment Durant gives Golden State is a knock on Oklahoma City. Durant is clearly fond of the Warriors, and their selflessness is a reason. But Durant has also repeatedly said he enjoyed his time with the Thunder. Their selflessness might also be a reason. Multiple teams can be selfless.

That said, Durant didn’t get himself the benefit of the doubt with a report right after he chose Golden State that said he was frustrated with Westbrook’s offensive style.

After initially downplaying a personal rivalry, Westbrook is slowly escalating it. Some of the perceived disrespect might be in Westbrook’s head – but some of it is probably rooted in reality.

The time Kobe Bryant lit up a hung-over Luke Walton at Lakers practice

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Luke Walton #4 talk during the game against the Detroit Pistons at the Staples Center on January 4, 2011 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)
Harry How/Getty Images
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Kobe Bryant has genuinely and sarcastically praised Luke Walton’s coaching ability.

Now that he’s coaching the Lakers, Walton explained the influence Kobe had on him when they were teammates in Los Angeles. Walton brought up one practice in particular.

Walton on the Open Run podcast:

I probably had too much to drink the night before. So, I came in. I was a rookie. I felt good. And they could smell some alcohol on me, and Kobe informed the rest of the team that nobody was allowed to help me on defense and that I had to guard him the entire practice.

And I was laughing at first, like, “Oh, this is funny.” But in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, it was like, “No. I see and smell weakness. I’m going to destroy you today.” And he taught me that lesson. He taught me that lesson. I mean, he probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I’m begging for help. None of the teammates would help.

But his killer instinct and his work ethic, they’ll stick with me forever.

Sounds about right.