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March 21, 2015 Updates

The cap boom that will help the rest of the league will also help the Thunder. Re-signing Kanter this summer would take them out of the bidding for top free agents in the summer of 2016, but Oklahoma City could still either have a slice of cap room or the full midlevel exception to add a quality piece. The cap could jump from $90 million in 2016-17 to as much as $105 million the year after, per league sources, giving the Thunder a chance to add again without going into the luxury tax. This depends on a bundle of variables, including whether Ibaka gets the max on his next contract. Again: The Thunder are right to be confident of their place in pole position of the Durant sweepstakes, even with Durant’s hometown Wizards hoarding cap space. But Durant is now effectively an expiring contract, and impending free agency at that late stage can take unpredictable turns. You just never know. This season was Oklahoma City’s last grasp at certainty, and it’s gone now. Grantland

The Thunder will put on a brave face. They will say they are confident, that they look forward to the opportunity — how’s that for reframing? — to show Durant that they’re the team for him. But don’t let the false bravado fool you. They know Durant leaving is in play. They know the cap landscape. They were the loudest non-Philly voice against lottery reform, whipping up a frenzy of small-market panic. Grantland

They traded future first-round picks for Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter in separate deals, and though those players are young and the picks protected, those are the sort of win-now moves the Thunder hadn’t engaged in until this season. They are the mark of a team that knows time is precious — that failure today carries a scary downside that is no longer so far in the distance. And as rival executives note, those moves — especially the acquisition of a low-post scorer like Kanter who has a nice pick-and-pop chemistry with Westbrook — provide the road map for a post-Durant team in the worst-case scenario of his departure. Grantland

The stuff about Durant and his connection with the Oklahoma City community is not just rhetoric. It's a real factor in his situation going forward, a unique relationship between a city and its team's players that will no doubt be on display during the Thunder's final home games that will come without him. He'll be hurting in ways that go beyond the pain in his foot, just like every other elite athlete who's so miserable when they can't take part in their craft. The Thunder faithful will support him in street clothes just like they have all the others who fell victim to such physical setbacks — Westbrook through the meniscus tear and multiple knee surgeries, Ibaka with his torn calf and so many others, too. USA Today Sports

March 20, 2015 Updates

When asked if Durant was being shut down for the season, Presti said, "Essentially, that's the direction we're headed right now." Durant was held out of practice Thursday as he was "experiencing a little bit of soreness," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Thursday. ESPN.com

Mark Woods: No timetable for return. “When he’s happy” says Presti. Could be before play-offs or not. “Most important thing is his health" Twitter @markbritball

March 19, 2015 Updates
March 18, 2015 Updates

LeBron James remains the biggest endorsement star in the sport with estimated earnings of $44 million this year off the court, and he is still the king when it comes to moving product. Nike sold $340 million worth of James’ signature shoes in the last 12-months through January, up 13% from the prior year, according to SportScanInfo. It is nearly double the amount of the NBA’s second best seller, Kevin Durant. Durant’s KD signature line of sneakers had sales of $195 million in 2014 for Nike, up 11% from the prior year. This follows a meteoric 400% rise in 2013 when Nike flooded the market with the popular KD VI. The low-top version of the this season’s KD7 in flashy colors like teal and pink is a bit hit with female teens, according to SportScanInfo footwear analyst Andy Annunziata, who compiled the sales data for Forbes. Nike made a huge bet on the NBA’s reigning MVP last summer when it inked Durant to a 10-year contract extension that could pay as much as $300 million, including royalties. It is the richest player endorsement deal in the history of sports. Forbes.com

March 16, 2015 Updates
March 14, 2015 Updates
March 11, 2015 Updates

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