Kurt Helin

FILE - In this April 15, 2015, file photo, New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams reacts after the team's victory in an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in New Orleans. Williams' wife, Ingrid Williams, is second from right. Oklahoma City police say Ingrid Williams died Wednesday evening, Feb. 10, 2016, at a hospital. Capt. Paco Valderrama says the 44-year-old's SUV was struck Tuesday night just outside downtown Oklahoma City when an oncoming car crossed the center line. Monty Williams is now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Thunder assistant Monty Williams will not return to team


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams will not return to the team.

Thunder head coach Billy Donovan made the announcement Wednesday morning.

Williams left the team after his wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car crash. On Feb. 9, an oncoming car crossed the center line and hit Ingrid Williams’ SUV near downtown Oklahoma City. She died the next day.

Williams was in his first season with the Thunder. He was head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans the previous season and led them to the playoffs.

Donovan said he would talk to his current assistants to help figure out how to go forward.

As expected, Clippers’ Austin Rivers and Wesley Johnson will opt out of contracts, become free agents

Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers yells at a referee before being ejected during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Almost every player that could become a free agent this summer should — the salary cap is about to spike by $22 million per team and the average player salary is about to jump with it. Opt out and it’s an almost guaranteed raise.

Austin Rivers made $3.1 million last season for the Clippers and averaged 8.9 points per game. Wesley Johnson made $1.1 million and averaged 6.9 per game. Big holes can be pointed out in both their games, but they both could expect raises on the open market this summer. Welcome to the new NBA.

So, they are opting out.

Clippers’ coach and GM Doc Rivers said he wants to bring all his free agents back, but it will depend on cost. It also depends on if he is serious about keeping the Clippers’ core together, or if he will explore making a bold move for a team that hasn’t been able to get out of the second round in the deep West.

I’m not sure Rivers will be in more demand anywhere else than with his father and the Clippers. They overpaid him a little last year and it wouldn’t be a shock to see it happen again.

Johnson will tempt some GM and land on his feet again, but likely on a short deal.

Stephen Curry takes Uber to get around Bay Area


Much like living in Manhattan, if you live in the heart of the Bay Area owning a car can be a luxury. You don’t need it to get around — mass transit and taxis/Uber — can get you where you want to go, and without the challenge and expense of finding parking.

But if you have money — say, you’re Stephen Curry and making “just” $11.4 million this season, plus what Under Armour and other sponsors pay him — you can afford a car or three.

Curry, he still Ubers around town.

Wednesday during media availability Curry was asked about the buzz in the Bay Area with NBA Finals (starting Thursday), the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals, and the big Copa America soccer tournament going on in Santa Clara, all this weekend. His answer turned heads.

“… I was in an Uber yesterday, and the guy was talking to me about all three different things going on, and just the excitement over that ten-minute drive that he had, that in a nutshell speaks volumes about how much sports means to the fans around here and excited to be a part of that and obviously on the court here at Oracle, but I’ll be watching the other two events as well.

Did you just say you were in an Uber?

“Of course (smiling).”

Curry is arguably the most recognizable face and biggest star in the Bay Area, or at least on par with Sergey Brin. So what is the reaction when he gets in the Uber?

“The Uber driver, I can’t really reenact it, but it was pretty funny,” Curry said. “I just kind of laugh and chuckle, because they are surprised that I’m getting in there too.”

Does Curry use Lyft too?

Just add this on to the “things that make Stephen Curry relatable” list, the one that makes him the biggest crossover star the game has today.

Watch Kevin Durant talk free agency, Game 7, Billy Donovan

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Kevin Durant had his exit interview with the media Wednesday. You can see the highlights of that above.

In it, Durant:

• Says he’s still in Game 7 mode, not free agency mode.

• Praises first-year Thunder coach Billy Donovan.

• He expresses his pride in Oklahoma City the franchise and the city, calling it home.

• And, of course, he talks free agency priorities, “If I’m enjoying playing basketball, that’s the thing I really want to center everything around.”

Since apparently nobody can get enough “What is Kevin Durant thinking about free agency?” here are longer quotes from his exit interview on the topic:

It’s kind of hard to talk to one of my teammates. Obviously, we’ve been through a lot. We know each other very, very well. But it’s one of these things where I just, I’ve just got to hear from me and hear what I want and talk to myself on what I need and how I can make this thing work for myself and just try to be selfish a bit.

Obviously, I want to ask for advice. But also, I want to make the decision that’s best for me. I’m sure at some point, me and Russell will sit down and talk.

But he’s put no pressure on me. He’s been just great in this whole thing and just being my friend, and I think that’s one thing I needed throughout the whole year, throughout this whole process, is just people to be my friend and worry about me as a person.

Twenty-nine teams would love a chance to pitch Durant on why he should leave OKC and play for them instead, but this entire process starts with one very simple question:

Is Durant even going to listen to them?

Or is he just going to re-sign with Oklahoma City? Unless he opens the door most of this discussion is moot.

And if he does stay put — which is what the buzz around the league is will happen — then the question becomes does he sign a two-year deal with an opt-out next summer (the most likely option) or does he take the five-year deal?

Could Paul George be on the NBA 2K17 cover with Kobe Bryant?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 06:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 6, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.   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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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It was announced last April that Kobe Bryant would be on the “Legends” cover of NBA 2K17 next fall. Which makes sense, because Kobe still sells.

The question is what current NBA player would join him?

Could be Paul George, if you believe a pre-order listing for NBA 2K that was on the Sony site (which has since been taken down).

This is a leak, not something official, obviously, but with the announcement expected to drop on Wednesday an accidental leak onto a website seems like the kind of thing that could happen.

George had a great story last season, returning to be near the top of the NBA’s best two-way players list, and carrying the Indiana Pacers to the playoffs, just a couple years removed from a gruesome leg injury. He was an All-Star and All-NBA third team averaging 23.1 points and 7 rebounds a game.

George re-established himself as one of the biggest stars in the NBA last season, so this seems fitting.

But we were going to buy the game anyway.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)