Tag: Kevin Durant

2014 Summer Classic Charity Basketball Game

Report: Kevin Durant considering Knicks, being recruited by Carmelo Anthony


When Carmelo Anthony was a free agent last summer, Kevin Durant recruited him to the Knicks.

Durant reportedly pitched Melo on the virtues of New York coach Derek Fisher, who was previously Durant’s teammate with the Thunder.

Now, Melo – who re-signed with the Knicks – is reportedly returning the favor.

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:

I know for a fact that Carmelo Anthony has been and will continue to recruit Kevin Durant until the cows come home. I’m also hearing that Kevin Durant is giving the New York Knicks consideration.

For what it’s worth, Melo strongly denied Smith’s last major report about him, that the star forward was upset about the Knicks drafting Kristaps Porzingis. That doesn’t mean Smith was wrong, but it’s something.

To the matter at hand, I believe Durant is considering the Knicks. I also believe he’s considering the Thunder and Wizards and…

I doubt Durant has made up his mind about 2016 free agency. Why would he this soon?

But outside Oklahoma City and Washington – the two major favorites for Durant – New York would be my pick to land him. That’s still a small chance, though.

First, the Knicks must prove they have a legitimate chance of winning. I believe the New York market still appeals to players, maybe including Durant. But that’s not enough. Seventeen wins in Phil Jackson’s first full season – especially when he appeared to be targeting a playoff berth – is concerning.

The Knicks should be better this year, though. Melo will likely be healthier, and the roster has improved around him. Free agent center Robin Lopez is a significant upgrade.

Respectability on the court won’t be enough, though. New York also needs to clear cap room.

The Knicks have $67,964,567 committed to eight players. With roster charges, that puts New York $18,861,549 below the projected salary cap of $89 million.

Durant’s starting salary projects to be $25,136,700.

Player options for Arron Afflalo ($8 million) and/or Derrick Williams ($4,598,000) could clear more room. If Durant wants to come, the Knicks would surely do what it takes to dump Jose Calderon ($7,708,427), Kyle O’Quinn ($3,918,750) and/or Jerian Grant (   $1,643,040). The salary cap could also land higher than projected, though that would also raise Durant’s max salary.

Clearing cap space is an obstacle, not impossible.

New York’s market can open the door for free agents considering the Knicks. Durant’s fondness for Fisher only helps, and Melo’s recruiting could help lay the groundwork. But it ultimately falls on Jackson – the team he assembled this season boosting New York’s credibility and his ability to clear cap space and sell Durant on his vision for the Knicks.

Report: Heat fully guarantee Hassan Whiteside’s salary for next season

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat

It was a formality that they’d do this eventually after the year he had, but the Heat have fully guaranteed Hassan Whiteside’s salary for next season. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports that, although Miami had until December 1 to make a decision, they’ve taken that uncertainty off the table several weeks before training camp.

Whiteside is an interesting case from a salary-cap standpoint. In the short term, he’s maybe the best value in the entire league: a legitimate starting-caliber center, dominant at times, making less than $1 million ($981,348 to be exact). But next summer, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, and the Heat won’t ave his full Bird rights, which means they will have to dip into their cap space if they want to re-sign him, and if Whiteside has anything close to the out-of-nowhere success of last season, he’s going to be in line for a massive raise, maybe even a max deal. That’s cap space that the Heat will need if they hope to chase Kevin Durant next summer, which all indications are that they will. Shedding some salary during the season (if they can find a taker for Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen and maybe even Josh McRoberts) would be smart. It will be fascinating to see how Whiteside’s situation plays out next summer, but for now, the Heat have an incredible bargain on their hands.

Report: Wizards, Bradley Beal still not progressing toward contract extension

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six
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Bradley Beal is a guy poised to take a leap forward this season — if he can stay healthy. He wants to prove he can do for season what he did in the playoffs last season when he lead the Wizards in scoring at 23.4 points a game. He’s an elite sharpshooter and two guard, and he and John Wall proving they are the best backcourt in the East is key to Washington making it to the conference finals or beyond.

Does that make Beal a max player?

He wants a max extension; the Wizards haven’t been ready to give that up. The two sides have until Oct. 31 to get a deal done, but there has been no progress of late reports J. Michael at CSNmidatlantic.com.

While talks remain open, CSNmidatlantic.com was told, there hasn’t been any movement. Beal, who believes he’s worth a max deal, just returned from Taiwan and president Ernie Grunfeld had been on vacation.

The lack of reaching a compromise isn’t an indication of any greater problems, but the Wizards aren’t in a position in which they must commit to a four-year deal fully guaranteed right now with so many moving parts ahead in free agency in the summer of 2016.

There are two key reasons for the Wizards not to give Beal a max deal right now.

First is Kevin Durant. The Wizards want him to return to his hometown, and believe they have a legitimate shot to land him when he becomes a free agent next summer.But that is going to take boatloads of cash. If Beal and the Wizards do not reach a deal, Beal’s cap hold next summer will be $14.2 million; if he signs a max extension he would cost  $20.9 million against the cap. That’s $6.7 million would come in handy landing Durant (or another free agent).

Second is Beal needs to prove he’s worthy of a max. When he’s on he certainly is — he shot 40.9 percent from three last season. But also last season he was inconsistent, and he has missed time for three straight seasons due to a stress reaction in his leg. Do the Warriors want to bet big on that now?

If no extension is reached, Beal becomes a restricted free agent next summer, and if Beal has earned a max the two sides can reach a deal — or even if another team offers him one the Wizards can match. The Wizards can afford to wait. Beal may have no choice.

Will Miami make a run at Kevin Durant?

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant isn’t going to talk about the rumors swirling around his free agency, and he doesn’t want you to believe what “sources” say about his plans. That’s fair, Durant doesn’t know for sure what he will do next summer yet, why would anyone else?

But if you’re the GM of a team, especially one that has a semi-legitimate shot to land him, you have to plan for taking a run at Durant. There are only a handful of true franchise changing players in the league and when they become free agents — even if it is most likely they don’t move — you have to be ready. The reward is too great not to take the risk.

Enter Pat Riley and the Miami Heat.

They may be a long shot to land KD — would he want to follow LeBron James’ path? — but there is no better big game hunter in the league than Pat Riley. Zach Lowe at Grantland says expect Riley to at least take his best shot at Durant.

One star changes everything, and Riley gets stars. Next summer, Miami could open up nearly $40 million in cap room, and as much as $45 million if it moves McRoberts for extra cap space. That’s a ton, but if Whiteside has even a solid season, it’s not enough to bring back both Whiteside and Wade while signing an outside star; the Heat will not have full Bird rights on Whiteside, meaning they will have to dip into cap space to re-sign him.

Consider one example: Durant’s max salary for 2016-17 will be about $25 million, leaving $15 million or $20 million to split between Wade and Whiteside. That won’t do it, unless Wade takes a massive hometown discount. (By the way: Rail against the Durant rumor mill if you want, but you’re kidding yourselves if you don’t think Riley will set Miami up to make a run at him.)

Miami will be a fascinating team this season — they could be the second best team in the East, they could be sixth, they are hard to read — but they are not ready to compete with Cleveland. They need more talent. Obviously, Durant would be that guy.

Before the people from OKC start emailing/commenting, I’ll try to be clear once again — this does not mean Durant is going to the Heat, or even leaving the Thunder. It is just an example of how a number of teams — the Wizards, Lakers, Knicks, and the list goes on — are lining up to take a run at KD. That means some financial jockeying for some these squads.

Pelicans strength coach says Anthony Davis is “stronger than he’s ever been”

Anthony Davis

Who’s excited for #MuscleWatch? Every year, as training camp approaches, you hear about players being in the best shape of their lives, or putting on 10 pounds of muscle. Sometimes it translates into results, and sometimes it doesn’t.

If this latest entrant turns out to be the real deal, that could be scary for the rest of the league. Pelicans strength coach Jason Sumerlin says Anthony Davis has put on 12 pounds of muscle, bringing him up to 253 pounds.

Via Pelicans.com:

“Our first phase was portion control,” said Sumerlin, taking over for Carlos Daniel, who left to further his education in the training field. “I wanted Anthony to eat more than he does, actually, because that’s the only way to gain weight. You have to get more protein, more calories. He’s never going to cut out pizza, but I finally got him to eat seafood, for the first time ever. He had salmon. He also has a chef now, so he’s become more adventurous when it comes to food and his diet. Changing his diet is a huge thing and probably half the battle.”

The second aspect of Davis’ muscle increase came from spending extensive time in the weight room with Sumerlin, getting on an uninterrupted lifting routine.

“He has been lifting consistently, doing all the small things perfectly and efficiently,” Sumerlin said of Davis’ regimen. “We are more consistent in his lifts and his corrective exercises. He’s lifted a lot more weight – he’s stronger than he’s ever been.”

The additional strength should allow Davis to hold his ground better against bigger frontcourt players he faces, some of whom have outweighed or outmuscled him in the past.

“He’s going to be stronger, faster, quicker and more explosive this year,” said Sumerlin, who has also emphasized core strength. “He talks about it all the time. He feels it. His trunk stability is a huge thing. Whenever he has been down low with the big guys, he kind of collapses (at his midsection). He’s starting to understand how to use his body more efficiently now.”

You obviously have to take any August reports about the shape a player is in with a sizable grain of salt, but the idea of a stronger but still agile Anthony Davis is absolutely terrifying. He’s going to be playing a lot of center in Alvin Gentry’s offense, so the added strength will come in handy for banging with opposing bigs. Davis is already in line to be the next generational superstar; this might be the year he overtakes LeBron James and Kevin Durant and becomes the best player in the NBA.