Warriors GM credits Kevin Durant with keeping team together

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant helped the Warriors win an NBA championship during his first year with Golden State. General manager Bob Myers is also crediting the Finals MVP with keeping the core of that team together.

Myers met with reporters Friday for the first time since a parade in downtown Oakland celebrating the Warriors’ second championship in three years. During the 20-minute session, Myers touched on several topics but repeatedly turned the conversation to Durant’s decision to take a pay cut and sign a team-friendly two-year deal worth approximately $53 million rather than go for a max deal.

That, Myers said, was the instrumental move in Golden State’s ability to re-sign key veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

“His gesture of taking less gave us the ability to be very aggressive in pursuing Sean and Andre,” Myers said. “I can pretty much unequivocally say without it, we’re not looking at the team we have right now. What Kevin did shows who he is, shows what he’s about and I think it’s clear that that’s winning.

“Without him doing that it would have been a different roster, and clearly to me, a roster that wasn’t as good as the one we have right now.”

Durant, 28, had been adamant about his desire to keep the heart of the Warriors roster together after he left Oklahoma City to sign with Golden State a year ago. His new contract will net Durant $25 million in 2018, with a player option for 2019. Durant is expected to decline the option and sign for the max then.

A seven-time All-Star, Durant could have earned as much as $36 million had he signed a max deal this season. As it is, Durant will earn even less next year than he did this year.

That opened the door for the Warriors to bring back 2015 Finals MVP Iguodala (three years, $48 million guaranteed), Livingston (three years, $24 million) and David West (one year, $2.3 million).

Additionally, Golden State signed shooting guard Nick Young to a one-year, $5.2 million contract.

All of it made possible, Myers said, because of Durant.

“He did it on his own volition, which makes it that much more impactful and impressive to me,” Myers said. “He’s a max player for the foreseeable future forever. For him to do something like that is commendable. Without him doing that other sacrifices as far as roster would have had to be made.

“That’s why people enjoy watching our team, the selflessness of the way we play on the floor. But that’s also the selflessness of who our team is as witnessed by what Kevin did and what other guys have done. That’s what people love seeing. Nobody likes seeing greed and individuals grab attention.”

Myers noted the rapid player movement in free agency as teams maneuvered to try to keep up with Golden State.

“That’s why it’s so important to keep our team together and stay as strong as we can,” Myers said. “I was worried, to be honest, that we would not be able to bring back the same guys. My thought was we were likely to get worse. I thought we were not going to come back as strong, and if we hadn’t, people are coming for us.”

Young gushed about joining the reigning NBA champs after spending the past four seasons with the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers. Young’s decision came after he met with Durant, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Draymond Green during a recruiting trip in Los Angeles.

Green followed up with numerous text messages before Young signed.

“At first I was like, `Y’all don’t need me, y’all got too much,”‘ Young said. “He said, `Ain’t no such thing as too much. We need all the firepower that we could get.’ I thought that was pretty cool.”

 

Video: Carmelo Anthony says he’d have won 2-3 titles if drafted by Detroit

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In an Instagram Live chat with friend Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony said he’d “have won 2-3 championships if drafted by the Detroit Pistons:

Anthony was drafted third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. LeBron James went off the board first to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons then drafted Darko Milicic with the second pick. Chris Bosh was drafted fourth by the Toronto Raptors, and Wade was selected with the fifth pick by the Miami Heat.

James, Wade and Bosh would famously team up in Miami seven years later. Those three and Anthony all put together Hall of Fame careers. Milicic was another story entirely.

Detroit had that second overall pick by virtue of a 1997 sign-and-trade with the then Vancouver Grizzlies for forward Otis Thorpe. Vancouver didn’t even keep Thorpe for one full season, as he was shipped to the Sacramento Kings at the 1998 trade deadline. By the 2003 draft, the team had moved from Vancouver to Memphis.

The Pistons went on to win the championship in 2003-04, despite relatively limited production from rookie Milicic. The seven-footer played in just 34 games as a rookie during Detroit’s title run. Milicic then appeared in just 62 games over the next two seasons before he was traded to the Orlando Magic at the 2006 trade deadline.

Despite never living up to his draft position, Milicic did carve out a 10-year NBA career. On the other hand, Anthony blossomed into a 10-time All-Star.

Anthony went on to make six All-NBA teams over the course of his time with the Nuggets and New York Knicks. He holds a career average of 23.6 points per game, but has yet to win that elusive title.

Detroit passing on Anthony is one of the more interesting  what if’s in recent NBA history. The Pistons only got the one championship, but made the Finals back-to-back years. They had a multiple year run of contention behind a core of Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamiltion in the backcourt. The frontcourt was anchored by Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. The one thing that group struggled with on occasion was scoring, which Anthony would have provided.

Had Anthony been drafted by the Pistons, he’d likely have a ring and Detroit would have a fourth banner. Who knows? Maybe they’d each have a couple more beyond that.

Former NBA player OJ Mayo to sign in China

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When the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association return to play, they’ll have a familiar face to NBA fans suiting up for them.

Liaoning announced they are signing former NBA player O.J. Mayo to a contract for the remainder of this season.

Mayo has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2015-16 season. The scoring guard was banned from the NBA due to a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He was eligible for reinstatement at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Since being banned from the NBA, Mayo has signed to play with various clubs in Puerto Rico, Taiwan and with a team in China’s second division.

During his eight-year NBA career, Mayo played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. The 32-year old guard holds a career average of 13.8 points per game on 43/37/82 shooting splits.

With Liaoning, Mayo may suit up alongside former NBA players Lance Stephenson and Brandon Bass. The club announced that Mayo will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, after which they expect him to back up Stephenson.

Neither Stephenson nor Bass have returned to China following the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unclear when either player will return, as the CBA has delayed their return to play until May.

Alabama’s Herbert Jones declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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University of Alabama junior forward Herbert Jones announced via Instagram that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft:

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All Glory to God 🙏🏽

A post shared by Herb Jones 🛸 (@yung.ch0) on

Jones says he’s declaring while maintaining his eligibility, meaning he could get feedback and choose to return to school.

In his third campaign with the Crimson Tide, Jones turned his best collegiate season. The six-foot-seven forward scored 7.9 points on 48.4% shooting. He also grabbed 6.4 rebounds per game. Jones was also one of Alabama’s best defensive players.

Alabama has also seen starting guard Kira Lewis and John Petty Jr. declare for the draft.

Lewis is expected to be a first-round pick, while Petty and Jones are considered to be late second-round talents.

Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji, DePaul’s Paul Reed declare for NBA draft

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Nobody knows when the NBA Draft is going to take place — like everything with the NBA calendar, it is up in the air — but for college players whose season has ended now is the time to declare and throw their hats in the ring.

Two possible draftees did that Saturday.

Arizona center Zeke Nnaji was one.

The 6’11” Nnaji averaged 16.1 points per game on 57 percent shooting, plus grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game his freshman season at Arizona. In a good sign, he shot 76% from the free throw line, meaning he should be able to space the floor and hit midrangers (and maybe someday threes). He brings a lot of energy to the court, but is considered raw still on both ends of the floor and not an elite defender.

Nnaji is a bubble first-round pick.

The other player coming out is DePaul forward Paul Reed.

A projected first-rounder is a generous description by Charania, Reed is seen more as a second-round pick (and without a Draft Combine or workouts with teams it will be difficult to move up). He’s a 6’9″ power forward who averaged 15.1 points and 10.7 rebounds a game this season. Reed shot the three well as a sophomore (40 percent) but regressed this past season. He’s athletic but needs to get stronger, and he needs to be able to fit into a role at the NBA level to last.

That said, he will likely get a chance somewhere to prove he belongs.