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Nick Collison says he got a text from Kevin Durant about move before it was announced

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There hasn’t been much communication between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the wake of Durant’s decision to head West — Westbrook reportedly deleted the goodbye text from Durant.

Things seem a little better between Durant and Nick Collison, who have been teammates longer than KD and Russ. Collison told Hoopshype that he got a text before the announcement went public. He wasn’t thrilled, but he understands — and took the news better than Westbrook.

“He texted me… Well, first I heard that he was leaning that way and then he texted me that morning before he announced his decision….

“I was disappointed, for sure. We played together for a long time, we came a long way from where we started. So yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s always tough when teammates leave, that’s the way the business works. It was a different thing with Kevin because of how much time we spent together, and obviously because of the great player he is.”

I think Collison speaks for a lot of players in Oklahoma City. They get this is a business, they understand Durant had the right to go where he wanted, but it still stings. (Fans don’t want to see sports as a business, so they take these things more personally.)

The question now is how good will the Durant-less Thunder be? And will Westbrook put up MVP numbers?

Searching for point guard depth, Cavaliers sign Toney Douglas for camp

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With Mo Williams making his retirement official, the Cleveland Cavaliers need point guard depth. They have Kyrie Irving, but after him it’s Kay Felder and then…

Maybe Toney Douglas. Monday Cleveland announced the signing of Douglas to a non-guaranteed contract, giving the veteran guard a chance to make the roster. Eric Moreland was waived to create the roster spot.

Douglas was with the Pelicans the last couple of seasons, he played in 61 games for them last season (starting 18) and averaged 8.7 points and 2.6 assists per game, he shot 39.9 percent from three (taking nearly half his shots from beyond the arc), and he played solidly for them. That was not enough for a team that needs point guard depth to keep him.

Douglas isn’t a traditional playmaker, he’s looking more for his own shot, but he plays decent defense and is enough of a veteran to know how to fit into a system on the court and in the locker room off it. While there are a lot of players vying for the last couple of roster spots in Cleveland — Jordan McRae and DeAndre Liggins are striving to make it as a reserve point guard as well — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Douglas make the cut.

 

Timberwolves add former NBA player Ed Pinckney to coaching staff

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Timberwolves have added Ed Pinckney as an assistant coach on Tom Thibodeau’s staff.

The Wolves announced the move Sunday. Pinckney coached with Thibodeau for five years in Chicago. He returns to Minnesota, where he was an assistant from 2007-09 under Randy Wittman.

Pinckney is highly regarded throughout the league for his work as an assistant and did receive several interviews for head coaching jobs while he was with the Bulls. He comes to the Timberwolves from Denver, where he spent one season under coach Mike Malone.

The Timberwolves have been holding training camp for a week, but it took some time to work through some contractual issues Pinckney had with the Nuggets in order to complete the deal.

Pinckney played in the NBA for 12 seasons.

Sixers work to see Ben Simmons injury as short-term setback

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This was the season where Philadelphia was going to start to turn the corner on “the process.” GM Bryan Colangelo brought in some veterans, plus the young core was ready to go — Joel Embiid is finally healthy, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor were a year older and more experienced, and now there was Ben Simmons to play point-forward and whip the ball around the court.

Except now Simmons is out with a broken foot, one that will require surgery. He reportedly will miss three months, bringing him back around the first of the year, but it could be more than that. You know the Sixers are going to go slow with pushing his return.

GM Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown characterized the injury as a speed bump — it will slow down the process for a little while, but it will not change the direction. Via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com:

They are right, the plan is not changing, just the timing in Philly. They should not rush Simmons’ return. Sixers fans hate the word “patience” at this point, but what else is there.

Brown did talk about spending the time Simmons is sidelined reworking the rookie’s jumper. Maybe that can be a positive.

Revamped Oklahoma City uses Spain trip to try to get players to bond

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MADRID (AP) The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t have picked a better occasion for a trip to Europe.

Needing to bring together a new group of players, the revamped Thunder play two preseason games in Spain this week, hoping the overseas trip will help create some chemistry in a squad filled with new faces and without Kevin Durant.

In Spain, practice and game results won’t matter as much as team meals, sightseeing tours or watching a soccer match played by Cristiano Ronaldo.

“This week is about how we utilize the trip to spend more time with each other, to connect, and to bond with one another,” coach Billy Donovan said Sunday. “When you are in training camp and you are home in Oklahoma City, guys are going home to their wives and family. But now as we’ve all left to come over here to Spain, it’s an opportunity for all of us to be together, so hopefully we can maximize this time together.”

The Thunder will play against nine-time Euroleague champion and 33-time Spanish League champion Real Madrid on Monday, and against 18-time Spanish League champion and two-time Euroleague champion FC Barcelona Lassa on Wednesday.

“It’s important,” guard Russell Westbrook said. “It gives us an opportunity to obviously be together, but not just that, an opportunity to learn about each other in different ways.”

Russell and most of his teammates watched Ronaldo and European champion Real Madrid draw Eibar 1-1 in a Spanish league game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday, in one of the group outings planned for the players this week.

“Chemistry is a big factor in sports, so with a trip like this it really does bring the team together,” said forward Kyle Singler, who played professionally in Spain early in his career. “We are doing things. Those shared experiences go a long way. We are in another country together, that alone is pretty cool.”

Singler said the new group has “gelled well together” but it will take time for the team to fully develop.

“I think it’s going to take time to build that chemistry, but once we’ve figured it out, we will be fine,” Singler said. “We are not the team that we are going to be at the end of the year, so we have to keep that in mind, and make sure that we take the entire season to learn what we need to get better at. We are going to be a playoff-contending team. That’s our goal.”

Singler is one of five Thunder members who played in Spain at some point, along with Ersan Ilyasova, Alex Abrines, Domantas Sabonis and Joffrey Lauvergne.

“It’s good to be outside Oklahoma,” Lauvergne said. “You are going to play against a different kind of basketball than what we are used to playing in the NBA. It’s something good.”

Last season, the Thunder made their fourth Western Conference finals appearance in six years.

Oklahoma City played a pair of European preseason games in 2013, against the Philadelphia 76ers in England and against Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey.

Also part of the NBA Global Games 2016, the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans will play preseason games in Shanghai and Beijing on Oct. 9 and Oct. 12, respectively.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni