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Report: Kevin Durant to opt out of contract, restructure deal with Warriors

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Kevin Durant is going to be a free agent this summer.

That is just a technicality, however. Unlike LeBron James or Paul George or DeAndre Jordan — free agents whose landing spots this summer are to be determined — Durant isn’t going anywhere. He wants to stay a Warrior.

However, after doing the team a favor and not bleeding them dry last summer in a new short-term deal (allowing the Warriors to retain Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston), Durant now is going to opt out negotiate something longer-term and for more cash, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

A nine-time All-Star and the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Durant will be turning down a salary of $26.2 million, a figure well below that for a player of his caliber, in order to restructure a new deal with the Warriors, sources said.

It has yet to be decided what contractual route Durant will take, sources say, but there are no real incentives — for himself or for the team — to take such a drastic reduction in pay this time around.

Maxed out, Durant can make north of $35 million next season, with his contracts going up from there. The Warriors will pay him whatever he asks, the only question is how deep it will take the Warriors into the luxury tax. Even without Durant on the books, Golden State has about $102 million in salary locked in for nine roster spots. The salary cap is estimated to be about $108 million, with the luxury tax line at about $130 million — with Durant the Warriors will be into the tax, and they will still have to round out the roster with four or five (likely at a minimum salary). Their free agents include David West, Kevin Looney, Zaza Pachulia, Nick Young, and JaVale McGee.

Durant could get a four-year deal worth around $158 million (final numbers will depend on the final salary cap number), or take a shorter deal that gets him out sooner and into the free agent market again. As a third option, he could sign four-year with player options after the first two or three years, which would let him jump back in the market sooner.

He also could take less money again, but don’t bet on it. KD has earned the right to get paid.

Mitch Kupchack hopes to make Hornets winners with Jordan’s help

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Mitch Kupchak is confident Michael Jordan’s Hornets will become an NBA playoff team again soon, possibly even next season.

But just how he intends to help Charlotte get there remains unclear — for now.

The Hornets new general manager and president of basketball operations said during his introductory news conference Tuesday this is a job he coveted. But the 63-year-old Kupchak was vague when it came to pressing questions surrounding the futures of the franchise’s top player Kemba Walker, eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard and coach Steve Clifford – as well as whether the team needs to undergo a complete rebuilding process.

“I’m limited in my knowledge other than what I have seen on TV and learned in the last 48 hours,” said Kupchak, who accepted the job on Sunday. No details have been released about the terms of his contract.

He helped the Los Angeles Lakers win seven NBA titles and has spent 30 years as a front office executive, including 17 as the Lakers’ general manager.

He hopes to build a winner in Charlotte too – with Jordan’s help.

“I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek out his opinion,” said Kupchak, adding that Jordan is arguably the greatest player ever to play the game.

Kupchak said Jordan is still very passionate about not only the NBA game, but the college game as well – and keeps up on the talent.

“I hope that most of the time we are on the same page and there may be a couple of times we are not,” Kupchak said. “He may look at me and say, `You know Mitch, we don’t see eye-to-eye on this but you do what is best.’ Or he maybe he will look at me and say, `Mitch we don’t see eye-to-eye on this one but this is my decision.’ And that is his right as an owner.”

In Los Angeles, Kupchak inherited a roster from Jerry West where he acknowledged “the cupboards were full.”

Behind Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers became a dynasty.

Things are little different in Charlotte, which lacks the glitz of a big market like Los Angeles, the talent of a Golden State and the history of a franchise like Boston.

Kupchak inherits a team with 10 players under contract next season leaving the Hornets close the luxury tax threshold – making turning over the roster a little difficult.

Charlotte’s most tradable commodity is Walker, who has played in the last two All-Star games and is making just $12 million a year with one season left on his contract before becoming a free agent.

Walker is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, but he’s also stated that he would prefer to win playoff games rather than go through a rebuilding process.

“I like a player that doesn’t want to be somewhere where they’re going to lose,” Kupchak said. ” … I know he’s had an All-Star year. It’s tough to answer the question with any certainty.”

He said the same goes for the 32-year-old Howard, who rebounded from two lackluster seasons in Houston and Atlanta with a solid campaign this season for the Hornets averaging 16.7 points, 12.4 rebound and 1.6 blocks in 80 games played.

Howard played for Kupchak in Los Angeles when he was GM there, and Kupchak said he didn’t want the big man to leave for Houston as a free agent.

He said he’s watched Howard play recently and likes what he’s seen.

“He is as lively and energetic as I have seen him play in years and years and years,” Kupchak said. “I know next year is the last year of his deal so there is some uncertainty with some of the players going forward.”

There is also uncertainty surrounding Clifford’s future.

Charlotte has made the playoffs twice in five seasons under Clifford, but has never advanced out of the first round. Clifford missed a large portion of this past season dealing with headaches related to sleep deprivation.

Clifford spent one season with the Lakers and Kupchak felt at that time he had head coaching potential.

But when asked directly about Clifford’s future with the Hornets, Kupchak struck a popular refrain, saying he just got the job two days ago, “so in all fairness I have not had the time” to assess.

As for whether the Hornets need to rebuild, Kupchak said, “I don’t know if that is the right word or not. I think our actions in the next three months might answer that question.”

 

Boban Marjanovic so tall he teases Anthony Davis with ball like child

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Please allow me a small personal aside: When you cover the NBA for a living and attend a lot of games in person, you become desensitized to height in that context. A 6’8″ guy, a full eight inches taller than me, doesn’t phase me. I don’t look twice at a 6’10” player, you just become numb to the height. But every once in a while a guy comes through the locker rooms and gyms where you double take and think “they make human’s that big?” Shaq is that way. Yao Ming had that effect.

Boban Marjanovic is one of those guys.

The Clippers 7’3″ Serbian center is not just tall but thick and with a long wingspan. How big is he? Watch him treat Anthony Davis like I treat my 9-year-old daughter when I don’t want her to get a piece of candy.

You have just watched the latest NBA meme be born.

The best part is the way Davis laughs at it, as do Rajon Rondo and the rest of the Pelican team.

PBT Podcast: NBA Awards breakdown including Simmons or Mitchell?

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James Harden or LeBron James for NBA MVP? Okay, not a lot of suspense there, how about…

Donovan Mitchell or Ben Simmons for NBA Rookie of the Year?

Out of a crowded field who should be the NBA Coach of the Year?

The NBA end-of-season awards are always an interesting debate, and while the NBA will not officially name the winners until June 25 (at their awards show) Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports give you their picks and debate all of them in this podcast. They agree in some areas but differ on Rookie of the Year, and there are difficult questions about who should be on the second and third team All-NBA, as well as second team Rookie of the Year. Kurt and Dan get into them in detail.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Rajon Rondo with off-the-backboard alley-oop to Anthony Davis (VIDEO)

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This is fierce.

During the Pelicans playoff-clinching win over the Clippers Monday night, Anthony Davis had the dunk of the night, with an assist off the glass from Rajon Rondo.

@rajonrondo tosses, @antdavis23 FINISHES!

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Damn.

We’ll see if Davis can continue the MVP-level play he has had since DeMarcus Cousins went down into the postseason.