Kurt Helin

Associated Press

What beef? Kevin Durant says he and Stephen Curry all good

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When you live in the fishbowl of the Golden State Warriors, things can get blown way out of proportion.

Kevin Durant was on the Bill Simmons’ podcast recently and said (when talking about Maryland getting an Under Armour shoe deal): “… Nobody wants to play in Under Armours, I’m sorry. Like, the top kids don’t because they all play Nike.” Obviously, Durant’s teammate Stephen Curry is the face of Under Armour.

This led to speculation about friction between the Warriors two stars, something Durant shot down talking to Rachel Nichols of ESPN.

“We was never in a bad place when I said that. So it’s like we didn’t have to patch anything up. … Me and Steph, we talked about that. He had a conversation with me about it, and I understood. We moved on….

“Everybody trying to figure out a way to break us up, so they gonna use that too.”

Curry said he called Durant up and had a talk about perception and how Under Armour has evolved. He also said there was never an issue.

Teams — even the most successful, popular teams — love the “us against the world” narrative. They thrive on it. So KD can slam his teammate’s shoes then say “what beef, you guys are just trying to break us up” with a straight face. The reality is the Warriors are under the NBA’s biggest magnifying glass, and everything they say and do will be dissected and debated. Everyone wants to inject a little more drama into the NBA season because, as Jeff Van Gundy said, if they stay healthy the Warriors are going to run away with another title.

Paul George on MVP: “I’m going for it”

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Could the Thunder have back-to-back MVPs?

Paul George, the All-Star forward who was traded to the Thunder this summer, was at the unveiling of the new Thunder statement jerseys Friday (I like the OKC ones).

While there he spoke to NBATV and was asked about the MVP.

Can George put up the numbers it would take playing next to Russell Westbrook? Possibly. How well those two stars mesh will determine if George has a shot at postseason awards (and how good the Thunder are in general). Goerge says he is there to help Westbrook.

All that with the “is he going to the Lakers next summer?” question hanging over his head all season. It’s going to be an interesting season in Oklahoma City.

At least the new uniform look is sweet.

Report: Dwyane Wade waiting for Bulls to make first offer on buyout

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Dwyane Wade will be bought out by the Chicago Bulls. That’s not in doubt. The only two questions are when and for how much of the $23.8 million Wade is owed?

The two sides have not talked about a number yet, and everyone seems to be waiting for the other side to make the first move. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times had this non-update update:

After fellow guard Jimmy Butler was dealt to Minnesota in a draft-night trade, Wade — who had exercised his $23.8 million option for the 2017-18 season — made it known in his circles that he wanted a buyout. According to one source, however, he has not gone to the front office with that request.

Don’t expect that to change. According to the same source, Wade is hoping the Bulls approach him first — with a suitable monetary amount.

It’s a simple game of chicken, with both sides thinking the other will blink first and come in with a more favorable number.

Eventually, they will start talking. Will it be before training camp opens in 10 days, or will it be after? Wade is a veteran who is happy to be patient, he’s not eager to go through another training camp, especially for a team he will not be playing for much longer. I’d say the Bulls’ front office wouldn’t want the distraction of this around, but they seem plenty good at ignoring distractions and problems.

There are a number of teams — the Cavaliers, Heat, and Lakers are known, there will be others — who will be interested in Wade once he is bought out. Right now, they are waiting like everyone else.

 

Minnesota goes bright, bold with new “statement” jersey. Warriors do also.

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Nike — which has taken over the NBA’s uniform and apparel contracts starting this season — has rolled out some good new looks. Such as bringing back the original teal in Charlotte.

Friday Nike rolled out the 30 “Statement” jerseys for each team — and a few teams are making a real statement with them.

None more so than the Timberwolves.

That’s some 1980s neon throwback fashion there. I just hope on the nights the team wears these coach Tom Thibodeau has a matching tie. Where did that look come from? Well…

While most teams went with a fresh variation of their existing uniforms, a few went out of the box. The Warriors did, not in the color scheme way of Minnesota, but it’s a different look for Golden State.

Here’s a group shot where you can see a number of the “statement” jerseys.

A few of these I really like, such as the Thunder’s statement.

But Minnesota… damn.

Report: “Little resistance” to Commissioner’s player rest plans

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It’s possible NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is not going to get his way on lottery reform. He most likely will, a majority of owners voted for it two years ago (but it needed a two-thirds supermajority), and now Silver is selling this new, less drastic version as something the league needs from a public relations standpoint. But once those owners of small and mid-sized market teams get in a room, they may be hesitant to vote for something that hurts them more than big markets.

What we know those owners will vote for is to give Silver real power to fine teams who sit multiple star players for a game, or who give a healthy scratch to a player in a big nationally televised game. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN put it this way.

And make no mistake: Silver will be aggressive in making sure he gets the two-thirds majority of the owners’ votes needed to fine teams for sitting healthy star players in national television games or multiple healthy starters in regular-season games, and for failing to make a star player sitting out visually accessible to fans on the bench…

While yes, the NBA is sensitive to the ticket-buying public losing out on the chance to see LeBron James or Stephen Curry on a once-a-season trip out of their conference, this is ultimately a television-revenue issue. The network games on ABC, ESPN and TNT were punctured when the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs turned national appearances into split-squad spring training games. Silver has been hellbent on a solution…

The resting rules have been met with little resistance. Silver has mostly sold it to owners as an economic issue. He has warned that the NBA’s future revenues and growth are directly tied to solving the resting issue, because that problem ultimately threatens regular-season and playoff ratings — never mind the cumulative cost of eroding interest in the sport.

We can debate if regular season player rest would impact postseason playoff ratings, but the rest of high-profile players in high-profile games is legit. I’m fortunate enough to be a guest on a number of sports talk radio shows around the nation during the NBA season, and the issue of resting players is a constant topic and black eye for the league. I can make the case for why teams are smart to do it — multiple studies have shown rested players both perform better on the court and are less likely to be injured — but in a star-driven league, it just looks bad when fans can’t see who they paid or tuned in to watch. With the schedule spaced out more, Silver has leverage to push teams not to sit guys for the most high-profile games. This is not a cure-all — if a team wants to rest a player they still will, they will just say the player has a sore ankle or back and needs the night off — but it’s a good step.

Resting players is a much bigger PR issue than tanking, and on this one Silver will get his way.