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Kevin Durant rewards Stephen Curry’s ‘childlike approach to the game’

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CLEVELAND – Then the reigning back-to-back MVP, Stephen Curry texted Kevin Durant nearly two years ago. Curry told Durant he didn’t care who’d be the face of the Warriors, who’d receive more recognition, who’d sell more shoes. Curry said he just wanted to win titles and that Durant would help.

That’s why after shooting 3-for-16 from the field and 1-for-10 on 3-pointers – his worst field-goal field-goal percentage (19%) and 3-point percentage (10%) in a playoff game – Curry said, “This moment is great.”

It was great because Durant posted 43 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists – a trio of marks nobody had ever hit in an NBA Finals game during the modern-postseason era (since the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff in 1984).

It was great because Golden State beat the Cavaliers 110-102 in Game 3.

And it was great because the victory put the Warriors up 3-0 and on the cusp of their second straight title.

“We all have an opportunity to do what we do and do it well and put ourselves in position to win championships,” Curry said. “…Tonight was not my night offensively. It was his night.

“You encourage each other along the way, and we appreciate what we bring out of each other. We could talk about him all night. He was amazing.”

Curry showed his amazement after Durant scored in the first quarter, skipping and air-kicking along the sideline:

And again in the fourth quarter, howling in Durant’s face after he made the dagger 3-pointer:

“A lot of yelling, unnecessarily, Curry said. “Just enjoying the moment. He was so stone-faced that somebody had to yell and show some emotion.”

Said Durant: “We all just support each other with a real childlike approach to the game.”

Of course, there’s nothing childlike about the Warriors’ production. LeBron James called Durant an “assassin” – for good reason. Durant shot 15-for-23, including 6-for-9 on 3-pointers, carry Golden State on off nights by Curry and Klay Thompson (4-for-11).

“Holding Steph to 11 points and Klay to 10, you would think you would win that game,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.

Even Curry’s high-volume, low-efficiency game alone would sink most teams.

Other teams are 0-15 in the NBA Finals with a player who shot 20% or worse on at least 14 field-goal attempts in the modern-postseason era. The Warriors with Durant are 2-0.

Thanks to Durant scoring 38, Golden State also beat Cleveland in Game 1 last year despite Klay Thompson shooting 3-for-16.

“This is the beauty of this team and the luxury that we have,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Durant didn’t come to Golden State just to soak up the positivity. He has ingrained himself in the Warriors’ culture and become an active participant.

Curry didn’t make a 3-pointer until late in the fourth quarter, and though Durant received far more praise for his clutch 3-pointer, he called Curry’s the biggest shot of the game:

It certainly mattered to Curry, who fell even deeper into a mindset of a more innocent time.

“Me and my brother, we always – growing up shooting and playing, we always said you’ve got to make your last shot before you leave the gym,” Curry said. “Got it done tonight.”

Then, Curry smiled slightly. It didn’t matter that was his only make on 10 3-point attempts. He was satisfied.

Orlando Magic to build new practice/health facility

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Last week, before the NBA world headed off to Chicago for the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Orlando City Council voted to approve the sale of a plot of land to the Orlando Magic.

That land, located between the Amway Center (home of the Magic) and Exploria Stadium (home of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club) will become the site of the Magic’s new practice facility. The building will also house a community health center an orthopedic center. The Magic hope to have the facility ready in time for the 2021-22 NBA season.

When the Magic moved into the Amway Center in 2010, it was a state-of-the-art building. Not only is the Amway Center the home of the Magic for games, it’s the center of their entire basketball operation. The backside of the building is entirely dedicated to the Magic practice facility, including weight room, therapy and training space, and offices for the basketball staff.

The challenge with this setup is that there is little to no room to expand. For example, there is just one full court, as was seen during the Orlando Summer League, which ran from the building’s opening through 2017. In addition, there are two shorter courts, which run horizontally across the main court.

Magic CEO Alex Martins said the Magic and AdventHealth (who will run the community health center and orthopedic center) “will build a world-class practice and health facility”. Martins and Magic President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, have toured other facilities around the NBA to gain insights and ideas in what Orlando should be looking for in a new facility.

The new building is expected to include at least two full courts, and likely additional baskets for drills and shooting work. In addition, as NBA teams invest more in health and physical science, the new facility will have space for equipment related to those advances as well. That type of addition to a facility allows a team to keep all of it basketball training and medical rehabilitation all under one roof.

When Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, he commented that one reason was the Nets practice and training facility. Multiple players have commented that Brooklyn went all out when building the facility and regularly uses it as a recruitment tool in free agency. While facing a lengthy rehab from a torn Achilles’, Durant is able to work out and get treatment in the same building as his active teammates. In recent years, the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and others have upgraded their facilities.

NBA players desire simplicity when off the court. By keeping medical and practice facilities in the same building, it allows for them to go to one location. Where the Magic will build their new facility is right around the corner from the Amway Center, which allows players to commute to the same general vicinity as they do today.

The Orlando Magic already have some built in advantages when it comes to recruiting players. Central Florida has beautiful weather year-round, there is no state income tax, plus there are major players in the entertainment business and a growing technology sector in the Orlando area.

The Magic have used those benefits in the past to lure free agents like Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady. Adding a shiny new practice facility to the list, just as a banner crop of free agents hits the market, is something Orlando hopes can get it back in the superstar mix once again.

Report: Villanova coach Jay Wright not reciprocating Knicks’ interest

Villanova coach Jay Wright, rumored Knicks target
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A report of the Knicks being interested in Jay Wright and Wright emphasizing his happiness at Villanova.

Let’s do it again.

Adam Zagoria of Forbes:

League sources say Villanova coach Jay Wright could become the next head coach of the Knicks.

“There is a strong possibility that Jay Wright in New York could happen,” one league source said.

Dana O’Neil of The Athletic:

The Knicks are reportedly hiring Leon Rose to run their front office. Presumably, he’ll choose New York’s next coach.

Despite the Knicks’ denial, Steve Stoute let the cat out off the bag: The Knicks aren’t keeping interim coach Mike Miller. Perhaps, Miller can rally late in the season and change their minds. But it seems unlikely.

So, we’re in a limbo period where many candidates will emerge. Getting reported as a possibility is a great way for a coach to get publicity and maybe even gain leverage in contract negotiations at a current job. It can be difficult to tell which rumors are real.

But when a credible reporter like O’Neil states something with such certainty and attributes it to only a single source, that carries major weight.

Rockets to add Spurs buyout DeMarre Carroll, free agent Jeff Green

Spurs forward DeMarre Caroll
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that DeMarre Carroll and the San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a buyout. Carroll will then sign with the Houston Rockets:

ESPN’s Tim McMahon added in a subsequent report that the Rockets will bring in free agent forward Jeff Green:

Green will first sign a 10-day contract with the Rockets, so he can get used to their system and see if there is a fit, Woj reported.

Carroll signed a three-year, $20.65 million contract as part of a sign and trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Spurs this past summer. That agreement was part of a three-team trade that saw San Antonio send forward Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards. The 10-year veteran is owed $7 million for this season, $6.65 million for 2020-21 and $1.35 million guaranteed for 2021-22. San Antonio will incur a cap hit for each of the three seasons as part of the buyout process with Carroll. How much of a cap hit will depend on how much money Carroll gave up as part of the buyout agreement.

Carroll was added via sign and trade after Marcus Morris spurned the Spurs in free agency. Morris had originally agreed to sign with San Antonio, but backed out after the New York Knicks offered him $15 million as a free agent. The Spurs moved on to Carroll as a backup plan, but he was never able to crack the rotation. He’s played only 135 minutes over 15 games with San Antonio.

Green was with the Utah Jazz earlier this season, before being waived to create a roster spot for Rayjon Tucker. The 11-year veteran Green averaged 7.7 points per game in 30 appearances with Utah. The Rockets will be the ninth different franchise Green has played for.

In Houston, Carroll and Green will join Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball crew as big man depth. Carroll and Green will likely back up P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington up front. Their experience at both forward spots will give the Rockets additional depth for their playoff run. Carroll and Green are also likely be to asked to play some center, as Houston has downsized dramatically at that position, including trading Clint Capela at the trade deadline.

NBA players’ union votes to support formation of G-League union

Kyrie Irving
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Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.

The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The G-League players are expected to support this. Sources have told NBC Sports that team and league officials will not oppose the players unionizing, they believe there will be benefits, too.

The primary issue will be pay. Most players in the G-League earn a $35,000 salary, unless they’re an elite high school prospect, or on a two-way contract (which means they are tied to an NBA team and can be called up for 45 days a season). Some players make more through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G-League team.

Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.

The NBA continues to push toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets do not. As the G-League grows, it’s understandable the players want a larger voice in how things are run.

In other news out of the players’ union meeting, Kyrie Irving was voted in as vice president, replacing Paul Gasol. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Chris Paul remains the union president.