Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, center, is congratulated by Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, left, and forward Blake Griffin after the Thunder won of Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won104-98, taking the series 4-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press

Rumor: Clippers would consider Blake Griffin for Kevin Durant swap this summer

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On the list of things that Kevin Durant will do this summer — and the clear frontrunner at the top of that list is re-signing with the Thunder,  followed by going to the Warriors or anyone else — this is close to the bottom. Because Oklahoma City would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to this deal.

But for a Clippers team that wants to win a ring and may be losing faith this core can accomplish that, it’s intriguing.

The idea is a Blake Griffin for Durant sign-and-trade swap, and it’s something the Clippers would pitch, reports Adrian Wojnarowski for The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Outside of those well-known suitors – Washington, Houston and Miami – there’s another California team determined to make a bid for Durant, league sources tell The Vertical: The Los Angeles Clippers. If the opportunity comes to move Blake Griffin and replace him with Durant, the Clippers won’t hesitate, sources said.

Teams are calling on Griffin trades now, but Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers seems determined to play the year out with Griffin and see how far the team advances in the playoffs. Eventually, the Clippers will determine how intrigued Durant might be in becoming a Big Three with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

Again, the Thunder are working to retain Durant, not trade him this summer. And I’m with the crowd that thinks they will succeed, and Durant will re-sign with the Thunder on a two-year deal with an opt-out after one. That way Durant sees if the OKC core can get it done for one more season, he waits until the cap spikes to an estimated $108 million, he waits until he has 10 years in the league so his max salary jumps even more, and he becomes a free agent along with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka (they can make a group decision on whether to stay or go).

However, if Durant came to Thunder GM Sam Presti and said “I’m gone, you can do this deal or lose me for nothing” then Presti would have no choice but to seriously consider it. Griffin’s Oklahoma City ties make this interesting as well.

There is another side to the Clippers in this — Griffin is their guy. He is the face of the team’s marketing program in L.A., he is the last player introduced, and he is the fan favorite. Griffin was the draft pick the Clippers didn’t screw up, he’s the guy whose talent and work ethic forced an organizational change from laughing stock to putting on its big boy pants (something Mike Dunleavy Sr. started to push for back in the day). That is not easy to trade away.

Although for Kevin Durant, Clippers fans would get over it.

Doc Rivers has admitted that he has wondered if this Clipper core can climb the mountain, especially when the Warriors have turned that mountain into Everest. He knows might have to rethink the big picture.

It’s just not likely to happen in the summer of 2016. Now, the summer of 2017 if the Clippers are in the same boat, that could be another story.

Report: If Kevin Durant leaves Thunder, Warriors leading candidate

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Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson — and Kevin Durant?

It sounds like a daily fantasy sports roster, or something you try to pull together with NBA 2K trades. However, it’s something the Warriors have been thinking about for some time as a possibility.

The smart money is still on Durant staying put with the Thunder when he becomes a free agent this summer (at least on a short deal). But if he changes his mind, the Warriors are at the front of a very long line, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The truth is that (the Warriors are) the most intriguing destination to him. If Durant leaves the Thunder, the Warriors are the significant frontrunners to sign him, league sources told The Vertical…

Make no mistake: Durant isn’t close to gone in Oklahoma City – no decision, no leaning, sources said – but the real threats on the summer market are beginning to reveal themselves. Durant is determined to win – to be an immediate championship contender at 27 years old – and that keeps bringing him back to the Warriors should he make the decision to leave Oklahoma City.

Durant has said he hasn’t even thought seriously about this summer, he’s focused on winning this season. No doubt there’s truth to that. But other teams have to start their planning now. And KD knows where he stands as of today.

Durant is at the legacy point in his career — he knows he needs rings to be thought of among the game’s all-time greats. It’s part of what lured LeBron James to Miami.

That need to win now makes the pitch from teams that would get an interview such as the Lakers and Knicks a hard sell. The Lakers, even with Durant, are a few years away from winning at best, plus there will be a coaching change and other organizational questions, and finally the Warriors and Spurs are still in that conference. The Knicks have a better foundation of players (with Kristaps Porzingis and Durant’s friend Carmelo Anthony), and they are in the East, but are they really in a better spot to win than the Thunder? Does that move get KD closer to a title? The same question is true for Washington, Houston, Miami, and every other suitor.

Except Golden State.

My guess is that this summer Durant signs a two-year extension with the Thunder that has an opt-out after one season — he stays put for one more season to see if OKC can win with this core, he also becomes a free agent in 2017 when the salary cap will be even higher (an estimated $108 million) and by the Durant will have 10 years in the league, so his max salary goes up. Durant makes a lot more money that way.

But a move to the Warriors this summer is possible. Not likely, but possible.

The Warriors would have a lot of salary cap dancing to do make this happen, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks lays out in another article at The Vertical. It involves trading Andre Iguodala, letting Harrison Barnes walk for nothing, and using the stretch provision to release Andrew Bogut, but it can be done.

If you’re Golden State — and especially if you win another title this June — you have to ask yourselves if breaking up this team after back-to-back titles is a smart move? It’s not a simple question.

But if the answer is Kevin Durant, the Warriors will make the moves.

 

Joe Johnson will not ask Nets for trade, unsure about buyout

Dallas Mavericks' Wesley Matthews (23) defends as Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson (7) drives to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Associated Press
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Come Feb. 19, the day after the NBA trade deadline, the smart money is on Joe Johnson still being a member of the Brooklyn Nets. Mainly because as of right now they don’t even have a general manager in place to set up and approve a trade. But even if they did, moving Johnson’s $24.9 million salary for a rental player (he’s a free agent after this season) is going to be next to impossible.

Johnson would love to be on a winning team — which is not the Brooklyn Nets, his current home — but don’t expect him to go pushing for a trade, he told Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record.

Of course, if Johnson publicly said he wanted to be traded, fines and the wrath of the NBA would rain down on him, so he will not say that publicly. If he pushed for a trade, it would be a back channel communication, but one that would be clear to the Nets. Of course, this brings us back to the Nets not having a GM.

If he doesn’t get moved, what about a buyout? He takes less of his money owed and is released as a free agent, where there would be a demand for his services from contending teams (just not at his current price).

A buyout is a possibility if Johnson and his agent get word that a playoff bound team (a high level one) would snap him up. And if Johnson was willing to take less cash to get out of Brooklyn. None of that is certain.

What is certain is Johnson doesn’t want to walk away from the game.

Johnson is averaging 11.3 points a game and shooting 39 percent from three, his skills are declining, but he still has value. As a veteran role player off the bench, he could help a quality team, he’s going to get offers. Just at $20 million or so less than he made this season.

Johnson becomes a guy to watch after the trade deadline. If the Nets get a GM.

Tony Parker could miss Olympics because of wife’s pregnancy

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PARIS (AP) — San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker could miss the Olympics because of the expected birth of his second son.

Parker told French radio station RMC that his wife is due at the end of July, shortly after France’s Olympic qualifying tournament from July 4-10. The Olympic basketball tournament in Rio de Janeiro will be held from Aug. 6-21.

Parker says he has yet to decide whether his wife’s pregnancy will force him to cancel his commitments with the national team.

Parker says “this is big news. I will need to talk with the France team. And negotiate with my wife, too. The schedule is very, very difficult.”

French federation president Jean-Pierre Siutat and technical director Patrick Beesley both say they were unaware of Parker’s situation.

Dwight Howard suspended one game for contacting official; Bickerstaff fined

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In the fourth quarter of the Rockets/Wizards game Saturday, Dwight Howard shoved Nene after the two squared up. The referees stepped between them (as is their job) and in moment Howard swiped away the arm of a referee, contacting the official. That earned him a technical, his second of the night, and Howard was ejected. (Nene also got tossed from the game.)

Players can’t push/shove/touch an official like that, so Dwight Howard has been suspended one game because of it, something first reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and since confirmed by the NBA.

This may seem like a relatively minor infraction, but the NBA (and all sports leagues) draw a hard line when it comes to touching an official.

The Rockets host the Heat on Tuesday. Clint Capella will get the start in Howard’s place.

After that Saturday game (a Wizards’ win), Rockets’ coach J.B. Bickerstaff said:

“We don’t like to blame referees. Tonight, there were too many calls that were critical missed and they went the other way,” Bickerstaff said. “There was a phantom Pat Beverley foul. There were our plays getting to the rim. Tonight, the referees had a lot to do with the outcome and it shouldn’t be that way. Referees should be invisible. These weren’t.”

That’s going to cost him $10,000.

Bickerstaff has been around, he knew the price when he said it. But he stuck up for all the “dirty” play against Howard, which is what a coach is supposed to do.