Kevin Durant lashes out at media (video)

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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 infamyprobably 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.

Jamal Murray throws himself off-backboard alley-oop in traffic (video)

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Jamal Murray‘s performance since signing a max contract extension? Uneven.

But this play during the Nuggets’ win over the Thunder yesterday? Brilliant.

Caught picking up his dribble and seemingly well-defended, Murray flipped the ball off the backboard then finished his own alley-oop.

That’s obviously a flashy move, but it’s also an effective one more players should use. The backboard can be an effective weapon for passing, especially for a player to himself, when he knows exactly where he’s putting the ball and can get a step ahead of the defense.

Brandon Clarke bullies Ian Mahinmi with monster dunk (video)

Brandon Clarke
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?

After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.