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Knicks color commentator Walt Frazier: Kevin Durant will have asterisk by name

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The Clippers ousted Bruce Bowen as TV analyst after he ripped Kawhi Leonard, a player the Clippers want to sign.

Where does this leave Knicks color commentator Walt Frazier and Kevin Durant, a long-rumored Knicks target?

Frazier, as transcribed by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

“Durant, as great a player he is, I would still hold back (giving him credit) because he joined a team that really didn’t need him,” the Knicks legend told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday. “He’s right there with LeBron, probably would’ve surpassed LeBron as the best player in the game soon, but for him doing that I still don’t give him the full credit that he probably would’ve deserved if he stayed in OKC and won a title with that team.”

Asked where Durant will land on his rankings, Frazier said, “He’s going to be down the list for me because of that. There will be an asterisk next to his name.”

Frazier is far more entrenched in New York than Bowen was in L.A. Frazier’s job is probably safe.

But these comments likely won’t endear the Knicks to Durant. His business partner – Rich Kleiman, a Knicks fan who’s often the connecting link in Durant-New York rumors – certainly took notice:

I doubt Durant would have signed with the Knicks, anyway.

That said, I could also see Durant relishing the opportunity to prove he doesn’t care about criticism. I don’t think he’d sign with the Knicks just to own the haters, but it could be a positive rather than a deterrent.

To Frazier’s point: He’s mostly wrong.

All championships have varying degrees of difficulty. Durant leading the Thunder to a title would have been more impressive than winning with the Warriors. Even if it wasn’t his primary motivation, he did take the easy route by joining Golden State. But that doesn’t invalidate Durant’s championships. He still earned those. Deciding whose championships have asterisks gets plenty problematic in a hurry, as the discussion would have to extend far beyond Durant.

And Durant wasn’t LeBron James, anyway. Durant is an all-time great. LeBron is in the running as the all-time greatest.

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

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After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.

Charles Barkley addresses Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dynamic (video)

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Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.

Trae Young: I’ll be better than Luka Doncic

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Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.

The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.

Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.

So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.

Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.

Markelle Fultz’s new free throw stroke is… different.

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Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz is in his own head with his free throw stroke now. (And, likely much more than that, but we’ll stick with the free throws for now.)

Earlier this week Fultz double-clutched a free throw attempt and his stroke was a mess.

Each game that stroke seems to change and the latest one is… different. Very different.

As Vecenie notes, this is actually an improvement in terms of the release, but that doesn’t make it good. Fultz was 1-of-2 in his one trip to the stripe (as of this writing).

Still, I have never seen someone pass the ball back-and-forth between their hands as they go into their shooting motion like that. Very, very odd.