The Knicks clearing double-max cap space for next summer sparked a firestorm of speculation. Will New York sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? Draft Zion Williamson? Trade for Anthony Davis?
Amid the rumors, Durant went more than a week without speaking to the media. After the Warriors’ win over the Spurs on Wednesday, he sort of explained why.
NBC Sports Bay Area:
Earlier this season, Durant said he was prepared to handle the drama associated with him nearing free agency. Apparently, his limited patience for questions about his future has already worn out.
This can’t be easy for Durant. He’s a human being who faces an extreme amount of infamy – probably far more than he ever anticipated. That’s especially tough for someone who loathes being psychoanalyzed.
But a lot of people care where Durant plays next season. That isn’t a media creation. It’s the reality of being a great player in a popular sport. That immense interest is what drives players’ salaries so high.
If Durant wants to influence the conversation, he can talk publicly. Otherwise, that invites people to fill in the gaps themselves. Plenty of credible reporters try to do that responsibly, but it’s difficult when the primary source stays quiet.
To an extent, that’s Durant’s right. Forcing him to talk publicly when he doesn’t want to will advance little. But the NBA generally requires players to be available, because that generates publicity – read: money – for the league.
Durant should and will try to focus on basketball. Continuing to play great will make everything easier for him. As loud as the noise is now, it will only grow louder if he or Golden State slumps.
He can’t win these other battles. Interest in his free agency will not subside. He must find a way to live with that inevitability.
Mike Budenholzer came in with a plan — an offense built around the fact no one man on the planet can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It worked. The Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Budenholzer picked up Coach of the Year hardware for his efforts.
Now Antetokounmpo has won the NBA MVP award, edging out James Harden (who chose not to attend the NBA’s awards show in Los Angeles Monday). He was emotional in thanking teammates for helping him reach this point, then talking about his father.
Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, but it was his ability to destroy any defender one-on-one that made the Bucks offense work. Either the Greek Freak got to the basket and finished, he drew a foul, or he drew so much attention the shooters that surrounded him on the floor had clean looks of their own. He also was the Bucks best defender, a guy tasked with tough assignments nightly.
Antetokounmpo was the best player on the best team.
Antetokounmpo won the award handily with 941 points to Harden’s 776. The Greek Freak had 78 of the 100 first place votes.
James Harden — who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game — finished second in the voting, Paul George of Oklahoma City was third. Harden has finished first or second in the voting for four of the past five seasons. Harden believed he deserved to win and was frustrated with another second.
Antetokounmpo is the first player from Europe to win the MVP award since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.
Nikola Jokic came in fourth in the voting, Stephen Curry was fifth. Here are the full results:
Rudy Gobert owns the paint for the Utah Jazz.
And he owns the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
Gobert won his second straight DPOY award Monday night, beating out the other 2019 finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George.
The Jazz had the second best defense in the regular season and it is completely built around Gobert and his abilities in the paint, which is what separated him for this award. Utah’s defense was 20.1 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert was on the court and gave up less than a point per possession with him as the anchor.
This was a deep field with players such as Myles Turner of the Pacers, Joel Embiid of the 76ers and others getting votes as well.
Mike Budenholzer unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo and from the start that made him the Coach of the Year favorite (and maybe Antetokounmpo MVP).
It was a wire-to-wire win for Budenholzer, who was the frontrunner for this award from early on and was named the NBA Coach of the Year Monday night, the second time he has won this award (Atlanta in 2015).
Budenholzer was the favorite with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games than the season before and had the best record in the NBA, they improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. To be fair, part of Budenholzer’s success was a contrast to how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.
He beat out Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mike Malone of the Nuggets in what was a very deep field for this award.
The Clippers bench play this season was the reason they made the playoffs (and pushed the Warriors to six games in the first round). Montrezl Harrell blossomed into his own as part of that.
However, it was Lou Williams who made it all work, which is why he won his second straight (and third overall) Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday night. He garnered 96 of the 100 first-place votes.
Williams spoke from the heart about second chances and his faith in himself.
“Four years ago, I thought I was done, like I was coming to the end of my career,” Williams said.
Williams averaged 20 points a game and he is still one of the better bucket getters in the NBA, an isolation master. What he did better this year, however, was playmaking, dishing out 5.4 assists per game. His teammate Montrezl Harrell — the NBA’s best energy big off the bench last season who finished third in the Sixth Man voting — was the biggest beneficiary of those passes.
Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis came in second in the voting, with Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets third and Terrence Ross of Orlando fifth. Here is the voting breakdown.