Kevin Durant earned the right to be a free agent. He fulfilled his contract, he spent nine years in Oklahoma City. Durant wanted a change, and he found a working environment he wanted more in Golden State, so he jumped at it. He made a change we all have the right to make.
But the spin that came out of it — from Oklahoma City, from fans around the nation that have never met Durant — was that he was weak. That he was easily influenced by the people around him. That he was taking the easy way to a title. As if there is an easy way to a title. Like LeBron James going to Miami, it’s amazing how some people flip out when players use their power and assert control over their own destinies — nobody complains about the superteams that were the Showtime Lakers or Michael Jordan’s Bulls because white guys in suits put those teams together, but if players do it…
Durant was on Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons on HBO this week and pushed back against the narrative that he is weak, saying it was a no-win situation for him to try and fight it, he’d get called thin-skinned if he did. Durant knew he’d just have to roll with it. Watch the clip with him and Nas above to hear it in KD’s words.
With a push for more social activism among NBA players, with the situation they want to talk about not getting any better, you can be sure that some NBA players will follow the lead of the 49ers Collin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem.
You can be just as sure the NBA league office and teams have discussed how to handle all of this.
Thunder GM Sam Presti was asked Wednesday about his team’s response to potential protests, and his answer likely echoes what the entire league will say when games start. Via Royce Young of ESPN:
“Our viewpoint on it is obviously we’ve had players and staff stand for the national anthem over the past eight years. We’d love to see that continue. At the same time, our players have the opportunity and ability to express themselves as people, and we respect that above all.”
Politically, the NBA is the most progressive of the major sports leagues in this nation, and it’s core demographic — younger and more urban than other leagues — is more sympathetic to the cause kneeling players want to discuss than those others. Which means it makes more sense for the NBA to stand back and let the players do what they want than other leagues — the NBA faces less of a backlash.
This issue is not going off the front burner for professional sports anytime soon. Certainly not in this election cycle.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chris Bosh kept up the public relations end of his campaign to get the Heat to clear him to play again by releasing a self-directed video talking about his love of the game and how the blood clots that ended his last two seasons have rekindled that. He also said he felt like the Heat had written him off.
Later in the day, Bosh took to Facebook for a live video streaming event where he again talked about his situation with Miami. Here is what Bosh said, via Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel:
“It’s been a very, very difficult time,” he said on the webcast. “It’s been long, it’s been tedious, and I think that’s kind of the part of the process that makes it special and frustrating. It’s just this huge emotional rollercoaster.”
There also was a telling comment about the ongoing uncertainty.
“Really,” he said, “we’re just in the process of making sure that I can get back on the court.”
While Bosh is invited to the Heat training camp that opens next week, he has not yet been cleared to play by team doctors. Bosh underwent a physical with the team in the past 48 hours, but no results or details of those are yet available.
Bosh missed the end of the last two seasons with a blood clot issue that can be life threatening if untreated. The traditional treatment — which includes a regular dose of blood thinners — would make it impossible for him to play professional sports. Bosh is proposing a specific drug and regimen that would have the medication out of his system by game time. On top of all this Bosh is owed $75 million and, if the Heat can get an independent doctor to say he is permanently disabled and unable to play, they could petition the league to take that money off the books. (Two notes on that last strategy idea: First Bosh would still get paid, the money just wouldn’t count against the salary cap; second this backfires on the Heat if another team signs him and Bosh proves he can play — then the money counts against their cap and they don’t have the player.)
One way or another, this is all coming to a head in the next week or so as the Heat get ready to head to camp.
Last season the Indiana Pacers needed depth at the point guard spot and to sign Ty Lawson they waived Chase Budinger. Phoenix rolled the dice on Budinger and signed him after he cleared waivers, but he struggled there as well shooting just 23.5 percent from three.
Now the Brooklyn Nets are going to bring him into training camp and give him a look, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Nets have 15 guaranteed contracts already, the maximum number they can carry into the season. Budinger only makes the roster by beating out one of those guys so badly that the team is willing to waive said guaranteed player and eat his salary.
Budinger was once a quality NBA rotation player, but a lot of what he could do was based on his spectacular athleticism. A couple of knee surgeries robbed him of that bounce and he’s never been quite the same player.
Last season the Lakers signed Metta World Peace not for his stellar play — he only got on the court in 35 games for a 17-win team, although he’s convinced he could have contributed more — but to be a mentor to the team’s young players. In particular, he had a bond with Julius Randle.
Now the Lakers are bringing him back, at least for training camp, to fill that same role, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Metta World Peace has reached agreement on a deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told The Vertical.
World Peace, 36, has been working out daily with the Lakers, and the two sides finalized a contract for training camp on Wednesday.
The Lakers also are bringing in Thomas Robinson for training camp.
It’s unlikely World Peace (or Robinson) sticks around for longer than training camp. The Lakers have 14 guaranteed contracts already plus the very team friendly deal of Yi Jianlian, who almost certainly makes the roster. That makes 15, the max the Lakers could carry into the season. Meaning World Peace likely isn’t on the opening day roster barring a trade or if the Lakers decide to cut Anthony Brown and eat his salary (which is unlikely).
But World Peace made the Laker roster last season out of a non-guaranteed deal.
Last season was World Peace’s return to the NBA after having played two seasons in China and Italy. There’s a reason he was over there. If you think the Lakers are getting the lock-down defender that World Peace once was, you didn’t watch him last season — his lateral quickness isn’t the same, and he’s now a physical but average defender. He took 47.5 percent of his shots from three last season but hit just 31 percent of them. He shot 31.1 percent overall. His PER of 8.3 was well below the league average.
It’s tough to see where MWP fits in this Lakers’ roster and future direction. But he’ll get his chance in camp to prove me wrong and make this team.