Author: Dan Feldman

Gordon Hayward, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant playing against Jazz tonight

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When will Kevin Durant return from injury?


This will be no easy re-introduction for Durant. The Jazz have multiple adequate wing defenders – Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Joe Ingles – who can take turns guarding the star forward. And whenever Durant attempts to drive into the paint, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors will greet him.

But the Thunder have high goals, and they’ll have to go through teams like Utah. If Durant is healthy, better start getting used to it now.

Cruel fan leaves Jose Calderon hanging on fist bump (video)

Jose Calderon

Jose Calderon is trying to give back to the Knicks. Young teammates like Kristaps Porzingis and Langston Galloway have credited him as a mentor and role model. Calderon has said he’d be fine coming off the bench (though, to the chagrin of many, Derek Fisher continues to start him).

Calderon’s reward?

This fan – in Oklahoma City after a New York win – leaving Calderon hanging on a fist pound. And it doesn’t look like the first time this has happened.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer fined $25,000 for bumping ref (video)


Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer got kicked out of Atlanta’s loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday.

But wait. There’s more.

NBA release:

Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has been fined $25,000 for making incidental contact with a game official during live action, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Budenholzer was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred with 6:27 remaining in the second quarter of Atlanta’s 109-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The video is pretty clear. Budenholzer earned this one.

LeBron James: Warriors are ‘most healthy team I’ve ever seen in NBA history’

LeBron James, Draymond Green

The Cavaliers took the Warriors to Game 6 in the 2015 NBA Finals despite injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Flash forward to this season, and Golden State is healthy and rolling. Irving, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and Mo Williams are sidelined for Cleveland.

That has someone else – intentionally or not – sounding bitter about the Warriors’ success.

LeBron James, via Joe Vardon of

“They’ve been the most healthy team I’ve ever seen in NBA history and they have great talent,” James said Monday following Cavs’ shootaround, in preparation for tonight’s home game against Orlando.

“They’ve just been consistent,” he said. “Think the most impressive thing is the way they just they’ve been playing at a high level for so long. I think it comes with a lot of health.”

Important: The Warriors health is not luck.

They’re proactive about monitoring fatigue and resting players. There’s no foolproof way to ensure players remain healthy, but Golden State gives itself a better chance than many teams.

To be fair, LeBron isn’t necessarily insinuating the Warriors are lucky. He praised their talent and spoken highly of their drive. It’s just that many view health as a matter of chance.

Regardless of LeBron’s intent, you can bet the Warriors will use this as motivation.

Report: Evan Fournier rejected four-year, $32 million contract extension from Magic

Evan Fournier
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Evan Fournier said it’d be “awesome” to sign a contract extension with the Magic before the Nov. 2 deadline.

But he and Orlando didn’t reach a deal.

How much security did Fournier sacrifice?

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Fournier rejected a four-year, $32 million offer from the Magic, league sources told Yahoo, deciding to test restricted free agency in July. Ultimately, the NBA’s projected salary cap increase in 2016 and his upside produced an easy decision for Fournier.

“To be honest, I did not even expect to be extended,” Fournier told Yahoo. “I had no pressure about that. If there was something good, I will take it. If not, I can wait until the summer. I don’t have to worry about it and make the wrong decision. I have confidence in myself and the season that I’ll have. The contract will take care of itself.

“You can’t go on the court and think about a deal. You must be focused and you must have the right mindset.”

Fournier should make much more than that in free agency this summer.

He’s leading the Magic with 19.2 points per game, shooting 45.4% from the field and 37.6% from beyond the arc. At just 23, he has plenty of room to get better. His driving ability lends itself to better distributing and foul-drawing, though Fournier has not yet capitalized.

But Orlando was fine to lowball Fournier in extension negotiations for a couple reasons:

1. Fournier will be a restricted free agent, so he can’t unilaterally leave next summer. If the Magic want to pay him, they can do so in the offseason. There was no rush to do so before Fournier showed better production.

2. Victor Oladipo and Mario Hezonja give Orlando quality wing depth beyond Fournier. Again, that makes locking into Fournier less important.

If a team makes a big offer sheet sheet, perhaps the Magic let Fournier leave and commit to Oladipo and Hezonja. Or Orlando values his mix of production and potential and wants to hedge its bets on wings and keep him.

Either way, Fournier is playing himself into a much bigger contract than his extension would have paid.