HoopsHype rumors


April 1, 2015 | 09:09 AM ET Update

Kevin Durant made some of his strongest comments yet about his future free agency, going as far to say he wants to have his jersey retired in Oklahoma City. "I love it here, man. I love my teammates, I love the city, I don't really think about anywhere else," Durant told Revolt TV in a recent interview. "I hear it all the time, don't get me wrong, and once you hear it you're kind of like [looks up, thinking]. But for me, I love staying in the moment, and I'm one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career. ESPN.com

Several teams — including the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets — have already set up their salary structure to make a run at Durant next summer, when the league will be overwhelmed by significant increase in the cap. And Durant has been constantly pestered by fans, reporters and even associates about his future plans. “I hear it all the time, don’t get me wrong, and once you hear it you’re kind of like,” Durant said, looking up and thinking. “But for me, I love staying in the moment, and I’m one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career.” Washington Post

“We give these people hope here, because when you think of Oklahoma City before us, it was the Oklahoma City bombing, natural disaster,” Durant said. “If we ever win a championship, I feel we’ll be heroes. I feel like we’d resurrected a city that was down and that felt like nobody cared about them. It’s beautiful because they don’t take us for granted… I got confidence because our fans are going to back us and I’m never going to take that for granted.” Washington Post

Clarkson plans to play on the Lakers’ Summer League team in hopes of fine-tuning his scoring and accelerating his learning curve as a playmaker. The Lakers have a team option on Clarkson for the 2015-16 season, though it seems inevitable he will return because of his potential and relatively inexpensive $845,059 salary. That all prompted Lakers coach Byron Scott to predict Clarkson “has a chance” to become an NBA All-Star. “The more he gains experience, he will learn the pace of the game, how to slow it down and use his speed when he has to do so,” Scott said. “His ceiling is pretty high.” Los Angeles Daily News

Clarkson’s dad and stepmom left their San Antonio home on Feb. 1, 2014 to visit Clarkson at his apartment following his breakout game against Kentucky. They informed him that his father had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his lower back. “It was alarming to me, but I had a stoic look on my face and I stayed calm,” Clarkson’s dad, Mike, recalled. “I figured he would accept it easier and he wouldn’t be worried as much.” Jordan Clarkson tried to show the same confidence he has displayed on the court. “I tried to stay strong at the time,” he said. “I told him he was going to be good and all right.” Los Angeles Daily News

The Clippers currently are seeded fifth in the Western Conference and are fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but Blake Griffin doesn't believe home court will be much of an advantage if Tuesday night's 110-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors is any indication. "Home-court advantage is just not there for us," Griffin said after the game. "If that's how it feels in the playoffs, it's not looking good." ESPN.com

Warriors fans made Staples Center sound more like Oracle Arena on Tuesday night. They loudly cheered every made basket by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and chanted, "M-V-P" when Curry was at the free throw line, causing several Clippers players to look up into the stands and shake their heads. "I don't know what we could do, but it would be great if it wasn't that way," said Griffin, who had 40 points in the loss. "It's kind of like when we play the Lakers. I don't know, maybe worse. It's one of those things where it would be great if it wasn't like that." ESPN.com

Warriors center Andrew Bogut said he didn’t have a good live look of the memorable move Stephen Curry put on Chris Paul, but figured the Internet would help him out with that one. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of memes,” Bogut said. “So I’m looking forward to getting on Instagram and Twitter and seeing exactly what they’re doing on the Photoshop because there’s a lot of antics that were going behind the bench when it happened, and it was a hell of a play by Steph.” Contra Costa Times

"I feel like we're giving the season away, one game at a time," said George Hill, who led Indiana with 28 points. "We've got to forget about it now, focus on tomorrow, bring it tomorrow and try to get a win tomorrow. You've just got to bring it more, and take away the loss and how bad it feels." USA Today Sports

During the beginning of his career, Knight read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success. Through his struggles in Detroit as a Piston, to his success in Milwaukee, Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule resonated with Knight. “I read that a couple of years ago and kind of thought it reminded me of myself a little bit, as far as you’ve got to put in the hours to be great at a certain event or certain sport,” Knight said. “Whatever it is, you’ve got to put the time in. Of course you’ve got talent, but in order to reach that potential, you have to put that time in to be as great as you want to be.” Triangle Offense

After years of being underrated and overlooked, Knight is beginning to earn his due. To make room for Knight, Phoenix parted ways with point guard Isaiah Thomas as well as Ennis and Plumlee after sending Goran Dragic (and brother Zoran) to the Miami Heat. Suns officials said after the trade they believed that Knight was the best player involved. “A lot of people tried to put limitations on my game and say I wouldn’t be this, I wouldn’t be that,” Knight said. “I think I’ve proven a lot of people wrong. I don’t think a lot of people thought I would be here based on my first two years.” Triangle Offense

In Tuesday’s 95-81 win at Miami, the 32-year-old Parker joined Tim Duncan as the second Spurs player to appear in 1,000 NBA games. The 14-year veteran is the third-youngest player in NBA history to achieve that milestone, following Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant. “He was here when he was 19,” said Duncan, the Spurs’ career leader in games played at 1,323. “That’s a lot of years, a lot of games, a lot of seasons. I’m blessed to have had him for so long.” Having won 719 of those 1,000 games, Parker’s 71.9-percent winning clip ranks second to teammate Manu Ginobili (.722) among active players. San Antonio Express-News

Noel is flourishing with Smith, who was signed Feb. 22, at the point. “I want him back (next year),” Noel said. The Intelligencer

So Smith, a journeyman on his eighth team in five years, is the “first true point guard” even though Noel spent the first four months of the season with former AAU teammate/2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams? Noel repeated the line to a pair of reporters a few minutes later. Soon after, I approached Noel to see if he means he thinks his offensive development coincided with the Feb. 19 trade in which Carter-Williams was dealt to the Bucks for the Lakers’ top-5 protected pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. “I think there’s a lot more fluidity in the game,” Noel said. “I think there’s more balance. Guys are getting more shots. The ball’s not sticking and guys are having fun playing. When you’re out there having fun, you feel like you can do anything on both ends of the court.” The Intelligencer

Nikola Mirotic: "When I was playing with Real Madrid and watched NBA games, I thought you could get a lot of easy baskets there. But when you come here you realize these guys play fast and physical. No basket is an easy one. It's easier to make them in Europe. Marca.com

But if you ask Scott Brooks, or any teammate, the raw numbers don't tell the story. The development that draws the raves is his leap in maturity and leadership, stepping out of the shadows as a brooding loner whose competitive spirit sometimes got the best of him. Maybe it's because of a humbling 2013 in which the previously indestructible Westbrook went through three knee surgeries, missing the postseason and then 36 games the following season. Or maybe it's just natural maturation. ESPN.com

Jamal Crawford went through a full workout on Tuesday before the Los Angeles Clippers played the Golden State Warriors and is nearing a return to the court. Crawford will travel with the team this week during their two-game road trip to Portland and Denver but is not expected to play, sources told ESPN.com. If Crawford continues to progress the plan is for Crawford to return next week when the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers on April 7, sources said. ESPN.com

University of Houston guard Jherrod Stiggers will forego his final year of eligibility and turn pro. Stiggers, who led the Cougars in scoring in 2014 averaging 14.2 points, has already signed with an agent. At UH Stiggers scored 1, 077 points, 38th-best in school history. He became the 45th player at the University of Houston to score more than 1,000 points. Stiggers also ranks third in UH history with 243 made three-point shots. FOX 26 Sports

LSU sophomore Jordan Mickey announced Tuesday that he is entering the 2015 NBA Draft. The 6-8 forward was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection this season. He averaged 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds for the 22-11 Tigers. He will finish his college career with 219 blocked shots, second in school history behind Shaquille O'Neal's 412. He led the nation with 3.64 blocks per game in 2014-15. Sporting News

They’re the writers and broadcasters who cover Kentucky basketball, and they will face a unique void come springtime. The 7-foot human Willie Cauley-Stein will make off for the NBA after three seasons at Kentucky, and no longer may they stand at his locker and listen to him routinely. They tend to sigh about that. “I’ll miss covering him tremendously, and this is the rare instance when I think I can speak for everybody on the beat,” said Brett Dawson of rivals.com. “I’ve never covered anyone quite like him anywhere, and I doubt anyone’s ever covered anyone like him at Kentucky,” after which Dawson referred to Cauley-Stein as “a true individual,” “genuinely funny,” “thoughtful” with “no place” for cliches, a player who “rarely, if ever, fails to consider a question carefully before he answers it.” Washington Post

On other occasions, he said it would thrill him if his team ever got a mention from anchorman Tom Tucker on “Family Guy;” spoke of Kentucky as “not the villains” and said the black hat he once wore was only “my John Wayne;” professed to prefer Batman over other superheroes because he accomplishes his feats without superpowers. He once drew laughs by saying he could tweet about “hot dogs” and get deluged with responses about how he wasn’t working on his game. Speaking of a Cincinnati player over whom Cauley-Stein dunked ferociously in the round of 32, he said, “I was already on the way down dunking it and the dude slid over . . . I mean, I just remember seeing his head, like that [underneath], ‘What is this guy doing?’ It was more confusing. Normally I know what I’m doing. I didn’t really know what he was doing for real. I’m looking down at his hair, like, ‘Dude, you really jumped on this.’ ” Washington Post

“‘What? How is that a question, just because I’m interested in other things?’ You got to be interested in other things. If you focus on one thing, you’re going to eventually like – you’re going to get bored with it or you’re going to get burned out on it. My grandparents have taught me that since I was younger, just to be involved in a whole bunch of different things so you don’t get burnt out and you know what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. I couldn’t imagine not playing this game.” Washington Post

After missing last year’s FIBA World Cup after undergoing offseason rotator cuff surgery, Spurs guard Patty Mills says he plans to resume work with the Australian national team in this summer’s Olympic qualifier. “It was rough sitting out last year,” Mills said. “It was a major tournament, and it was hard knowing that I wasn’t there. Having sat out last year, I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing with the guys.” San Antonio Express-News

The whole thing is worth a listen, but I'd like to draw your attention to one particularly illuminating anecdote regarding David Blatt's play-calling duties. Here's Windhorst: The Princeton offense that David Blatt installed in the preseason, they just threw that out. What typically happens—and this has been happening for like three months now—is LeBron will take the ball, and LeBron will call the play. David Blatt will see what play LeBron calls, and he will repeat it to the team. That happens on a regular basis. Deadspin.com

The latest bit of verbal jousting came before the Clippers fell to the Warriors 110-106 on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Rivers, the second-year coach of the Clippers, said he could understand why Draymond Green, who has inflammation in his shins, wasn't playing in the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams. "That was pretty predictable; they didn't want to take the risk of going 2-2 [in the season series] with their regular guys," Rivers said. "You could pretty much predict they weren't going to play everybody." ESPN.com

"Oh, is that right?" Kerr, in his first year as Warriors coach, said with a chuckle when Rivers' quote was relayed to him. "Either that or we have a nine-game lead and a couple guys banged up. Somewhere in there." ESPN.com

Stefan Bondy: Lionel Hollins says he doesn't believe in resting players: "I don’t think managing your minutes lengthens your career by one minute." Twitter @SBondyNYDN

If his actual effect on the game is debatable, consider that during the first half of Friday’s 106-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Reznick was asked by security and Brett Yormark, the CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center, to return to his nearby seat, which is not nearly as visible to his target audience. “He complained about me,” Reznick said of Cavaliers star LeBron James. Wall Street Journal

A Cavaliers spokesman denied Reznick’s claim and declined to comment further when asked if another member of the team had made the request to security. “He’s the only one that ever complained about me,” Reznick continued. “All the time, players, they smile at me and we talk before the game, and I wish them good health and good luck, and that they should be very successful with no injuries. The only thing that I require is that they miss the foul shot.” Wall Street Journal

At the moment, Reznick isn’t sure if he’s allowed to return to his post (he didn’t attend Tuesday’s 111-106 win over the Indiana Pacers). But it seems as though the Whammy Era of Nets basketball may have come to an unceremonious end. On every NBA court, two 4-foot-wide “escape lanes” abut each basket stanchion, and according to a league spokesman they must remain open for safety reasons and so players can enter and exit the court. Reznick says he was asked to leave the spot last season, but ultimately returned. Wall Street Journal

Now playing basketball on film in this, you have to convincingly look like a player but you also have to deal with camera setups and all of that. What is the different discipline of playing basketball for a TV show, for the TV camera? Baron Davis: You know it’s kind of like playing basketball for Mike Dunleavy. He tells you to do everything out there anyway. You feel like a robot. So I was pretty much used to it. So when we did get in the arena and the cameras were on I was like, "Oh, I’m used to being told what to do every time I dribble the ball so this won’t bother me at all." HitFix

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