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With Kevin Durant on radio silence, Warriors said to be ‘scrambling’ to get some return

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Kevin Durant, his leg cast, and his business manager Rich Kleiman are in a virtual bunker in New York, plotting out the superstar’s next move.

The only official news out of that bunker: Durant is opting out of the $31.5 million final year of his contract with the Warriors. Which made headlines but was not a surprise, there are 6.7 million reasons he would do that even if he were staying in the Bay Area.

Aside from that, there is no news. Complete radio silence. That’s something reported in a number of places, including by Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Durant has given his top four suitors — the Warriors, Nets, Knicks and Clippers — no indication of where he plans to sign, according to league sources. Now that he has declined his $31.5 million player option with Golden State, Durant is preparing to mull over his choices with his business manager, Rich Kleiman, in New York.

There is no timetable for a decision. What is known is that, after nine months of being recruited through the media by various teams, Durant is intent on not being swayed by boardroom pitches.

Durant may well not take meetings and just make his decision, or only meet with the team where he plans to sign, as LeBron James did last summer.

The Warriors are “scrambling” not to have Durant leave for nothing, something  ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “Get Up” Thursday (hat tip Real GM).

“I’m going to just be honest with you: my sense is that the Warriors are in a scramble mode to do anything that they can to either keep Kevin or not lose him for nothing.

“The last thing that the Warriors want is for him to just go sign with the Nets, or sign with the Knicks. So in addition to offering him the five-year contract and hoping he will either stay with them, or be willing to rehab with them and then be traded. The Warriors are wide open to considering sign-and-trade scenarios.

“Let’s say Kevin wants to go to the Nets. They would love to do a sign-and-trade with the Nets. You might say what would they get back? They could get back a trade exception where you would get a $35 million, basically gift certificate that they could then use to go get other players, which they’re going to need. They have no functional way to improve their team because they won’t have salary cap space if he leaves. The Warriors really want to work alongside Kevin Durant.”

The Warriors can offer Durant a five-year, $220 million contract, any other team can only offer four years, $164 million.

As Windhorst said later, there is no real motivation here for the Nets (or Knicks, Clippers, or anyone else) to play along here. The Warriors would likely ask for a future draft pick in the deal, why would a team give that up when they can just sign Durant outright?

The only hope here is Durant wants that guaranteed fifth year enough — and he is rehabbing from a torn Achilles — decides he wants that guaranteed fifth year (and the larger raises) so much he forces the Nets or whoever to do it.

If Durant were signed and traded on July 6, he can only do it for the four-years, $164 million, under the terms of the new CBA. Durant would have to sign the deal and stay with the Warriors for six months minimum, then be traded (think Blake Griffin and the Clippers, although that was not planned in advance). Since Durant is rehabbing his Achilles in that window anyway, it doesn’t really matter. However, if the move is a transparent attempt to circumvent the salary cap with a pre-arranged deal, the league office could step in. It could be done, but the timing and circumstances would need to be right not to run afoul of the league office.

Most likely, Durant just signs wherever he wants to play in the future, it’s on the Warriors to change his mind.

Juancho Hernangomez missing Timberwolves workouts to film Adam Sandler movie

Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez
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The Timberwolves, like the other seven teams not invited to the NBA’s restart at Disney World, are holding workouts.

Not in Minnesota: Forward Juancho Hernangomez.

Chris Hine of the StarTribune:

A team spokesperson said Hernangomez is filming Adam Sandler’s latest project in Philadelphia.

Netflix is producing the film, called “Hustle.”

And people thought LeBron James – also a producer of “Hustle,” which is about a basketball scout who finds talent oversees – prioritized Hollywood over hoops.

A Spain native, Hernangomez will be a free agent this offseason. The Timberwolves can make him restricted.

But how could anyone want a player who doesn’t respect the sanctity of voluntary workouts occurring several months before next season (besides his 3-point shooting, rebounding and defensive versatility)?

Buddy Hield fuels 76ers trade rumor

Kings guard Buddy Hield vs. 76ers
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A rumor emerged about the Kings trading Buddy Hield to the 76ers. It didn’t seem particularly credible.

But then Hield himself liked this Instagram post promoting a potential trade and apparently made a pro-Philadelphia comment on Instagram:

Hield previously laid the groundwork for an offseason trade request. He seemed unhappy at times in Sacramento this season, losing his starting job and even riding the bench when the Kings needed a 3-pointer.

The 76ers could use more shooting – especially if they hire Mike D’Antoni. Hield would definitely add value. A lineup where Hield and Josh Richardson defend guards and Ben Simmons plays point guard offensively and defends a frontcourt player is intriguing.

Hield is set to earn $24,931,817 next season in the first year of a four-year extension. That’s in the range of Tobias Harris ($34,358,850) and Al Horford ($27,500,000).

However, Horford’s trade value is at rock bottom. Tobias Harris would add only so much value to Sacramento, which already has Harrison Barnes.

Kings fans can hope for Ben Simmons ($28,750,000) or Joel Embiid ($29,542,010). But those stars are FAR more valuable than Hield. Besides, the 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Simmons or Embiid (though it’s unclear who exactly is running the show in Philadelphia).

Regardless of whether the Kings and 76ers could connect on a trade, Hield making these public gestures is an issue in Sacramento. It’s on new Kings general manager Monte McNair to manage this. After years of supporting Daryl Morey with the Rockets, this is a new challenge – being in charge while a player makes waves – for McNair.

Relatedly, McNair must also handle Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s impending restricted free agency. These look like warning shots from Hield as Sacramento determines its priorities at shooting guard.

Report: Philadelphia ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as next coach

Mike D'Antoni 76ers
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Philadelphia 76ers ownership (led by Josh Harris) reportedly has been very hands-on in picking the team’s new coach — even if that means a new direction for the roster. That hands-on style reportedly why ownership likes Elton Brand as GM and may balk at bringing in a big-name president of basketball operations — that person would want total control of basketball decisions. Right now, ownership is pulling a lot of those levers.

And ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as the next head coach in Philadelphia, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sources have been saying since last week that the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. They say he’s the guy the ownership group wants. One source even said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job.

The problem is that Brand is supposed to have a huge input on the hire. The ownership is only supposed to approve or deny Brand’s suggestion. Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Joel Embiid gave his blessing. In addition, there are reports that the Sixers will make trades if D’Antoni is hired. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.

With Billy Donovan taking over in Chicago, the list of top candidates for the Philadelphia job seems down to two: Tyronn Lue and Mike D’Antoni. Lue would be the conventional choice, a guy who would try to make it work with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Lue the idea would be making better use of the roster and style the 76ers have already built.

D’Antoni would be a radical change of direction — he is coming from a team that just started 6’7″ Robert Covington at center. The current 76ers roster would need changes to fit with D’Antoni’s freewheeling ways, and even then the coach would need to adapt what he wants to do. (No contract is untradeable, but moving the four-years, $147.2 million left on Harris’ deal, or the three years and $81 million on Horford’s contract, would require Philly to throw in a lot of sweeteners.)

D’Antoni would mean another change of direction in Philly, but that seems to be what ownership wants.

Bam Adebayo on injury: “I’m good,” expects to play in Game 5 Friday

Bam Adebayo injury
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In the final minutes of Miami’s Game 4 win, while Tyler Hero was knocking down shots and Jimmy Butler was getting to the line, Miami‘s Bam Adebayo was dealing with an injury, walking around holding his wrist, his arm dragging. He had gotten tangled up with Daniel Theis under the basket and clearly injured something.

The questions raised post game were about what happened, how serious it was, and could Adebayo be out for Game 5 on Friday? There was nothing official from the team but it looks like he will play, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4, and his play is critical to Miami’s game plan against Boston. His ability to protect the rim at one end, then come out high to set screens and pull Theis out of the paint on the other end, is at the heart of what the Heat want to do in this series. If he is even slowed in Game 5 it is an advantage for Boston.

This time of year, and with the Heat one game away from the NBA Finals, no chance he sits if he can at all play.