Melissa Rohlin: Bob Myers on KD saying he’s coming back: “Maybe I’m naïve but I never felt like he was leaving.”
Yeah, the next thing. You have Klay and Draymond down the road, and KD this summer. But do you feel like the argument -- the fact -- that this group has gone to four straight Finals is kind of a trump card over any possible object that anyone might have? Bob Myers: Winning is the only time you don’t have to answer questions. It’s the only time. Twenty-nine other GMs, you have to answer, ‘what if?’ ‘why didn’t you?’ Every coach, every player. You only get to have this emotion once, and it means you have to win. It doesn’t mean, though, that you have a perfect team or that you have a perfect life by any stretch. But for me, it means that you appreciate these guys, you try to keep it together, you thank the people -- for me, my family, my wife, the people that went on the journey with you. The sacrifice, the things that nobody knows about. That’s the part you try to keep your eye on. And as far as the group, you value the guys that helped you do it, the players, the coaching staff, people I work with in the front office. I don’t know. I think you treasure each moment with these people. Like I said, I mean, you’ve worked with a ton of people. They change. People come and go, for whatever reason -- some good, some bad. It doesn’t matter. It’s life.
For the Warriors, that is going to start being a very expensive proposition as Durant, Thompson and Green are all in line for massive new contracts in the next few years. Lacob said Friday night that he intends to offer extensions or new deals to all of them this summer.
What’s your understanding about Durant’s thoughts heading into free agency this summer again? Lacob: My understanding is he’s extremely happy, from both Kevin and his manager. So we have full expectation that he’ll be back. Of course, you know how I feel about this for all these players — they’ve earned the right to be free agents and we can’t assume anything. It’s our job to convince them to want to be with us.
All-Star forward Kevin Durant told ESPN's Rachel Nichols on Thursday that he will re-sign with the Golden State Warriors this summer. Durant is finishing the first year of a discounted two-year, $51 million deal with the Warriors that included an opt-out clause for the 2018-19 season. "I'm planning on staying with the Warriors, and we'll figure the rest out," Durant said, before adding that only the "small details" remained to be figured out.
One of Durant's options in the offseason would be to sign a four-year, max contract valued at around $158 million. He could also sign another two-year deal with a player option, or a three-year-deal with a player option after the second year. He and business partner Rich Kleiman are expected to go over the scenarios in great detail at the conclusion of the Warriors' postseason run.
“Yeah, yeah,” Durant said when asked if he would be back for next season. “I feel as though (I am). Everything, the money and stuff that’s got to, the contract got to (be) worked out, but I plan on being here. I said that earlier this year. I didn’t plan on anything else. But this is the NBA, and anything can happen. And I know that anything can happen, (because) I’ve been a part of this league for so long now.”
Tim Kawakami noted he wouldn’t have thought Durant would take such a big pay cut last year. Durant: Me either. But I thought that, at that time, it was a good deal. But that’s not setting a good precedent for me if I’m like, “Man, I’m taking 10.” Now, they’re going to start taking advantage of me. You know what I’m saying? I know it’s a business, too. So, I’ve got a business to handle as well.
Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant plans to decline his player option for the 2018-19 season and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, league sources told ESPN. His time on the open market, however, will be brief.
A nine-time All-Star and the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Durant will be turning down a salary of $26.2 million, a figure well below that of a player of his caliber, in order to restructure a new deal with the Warriors, sources said. Last offseason, Durant inked a discounted two-year, $51 million deal that included an opt-out clause. He took close to $10 million less than what he could have earned on a max salary. Agreeing to such terms allowed the team to retain forward Andre Iguodala and backup point guard Shaun Livingston.
ESPN Front Office Insider Bobby Marks dissected Durant's options for this upcoming offseason. Option A: He can sign a two-year deal with a 2019-20 player option in which the first-year earnings would be $30 million and the option year worth $31.5 million.
Option B: He can sign a four-year max contract valued at around $158 million. His annual pay would be $35.3 million, $38.2 million, $41 million and $43.8 million. Option C: He can agree to a three-year deal with a player option after the second season.
But another Warriors name, a bigger, more influential star, is actually next up on the docket, yet he is always omitted from these discussions: Kevin Durant, who signed a two-year deal with the Warriors in 2017 with an opt-out this summer, is free to sign wherever he wants in four months. But no one across the league seems to even pretend like it's a possibility that he will leave Oakland. So it seemed wise, following the Warriors' shootaround in Atlanta on Friday, to approach Durant and check his pulse on the situation. The following is his conversation with The Athletic on this issue.
“Oh, you want to start this up?” Durant said with an eye-roll. Is this as foregone a conclusion as the rest of the league seems to believe it to be? “I'm not even thinking about that,” Durant said. “I'm here. I'm here. I ain't even thought about it.” To make it simpler: Is it 100 percent, in your mind, that you will be back with the Warriors next season? “Yeah,” Durant said. “Yeah.”
Ian Begley: Troy Williams on signing with NYK: "Great opportunity, great fit. Their interest level here was a little bit higher than everybody else’s." He's hoping for an opportunity to stick with NY: "Right now my main role is just being an extra athletic guy, run the court and defend.”
David Pick: Source: Former POR, HOU guard Tim Quarterman signed a one-month interim deal in China with Jiangsu Dragons while MarShon Brooks heads to U.S. for birth of his son.
The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have re-signed free agents Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia and David West to contracts, the team announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreements were not released. Curry, 29, averaged a team-high 25.3 points per game (10th in the NBA) in 2016-17 to go with 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.81 steals (seventh) in 33.4 minutes over 79 games, earning All-NBA Second Team honors. The two-time MVP led the league in three-point field goals for a fifth consecutive year, following his NBA-record 402 threes in 2015-16 with 316 triples in 2016-17, including an NBA single-game record 13 threes on Nov. 7 vs. New Orleans. Curry upped his averages to 28.1 points, 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds in 35.4 minutes over 17 games in the 2017 postseason, helping Golden State capture its second title in three seasons. In eight career seasons with the Warriors, Curry owns averages of 22.8 points, 6.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.79 steals and is the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point field goals (1,917, 10th in NBA history).
Bob Myers touched on several topics but repeatedly turned the conversation to Durant’s decision to take a pay cut and sign a team-friendly two-year deal worth approximately $53 million rather than go for a max deal. That, Myers said, was the instrumental move in Golden State’s ability to re-sign key veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“His gesture of taking less gave us the ability to be very aggressive in pursuing Sean and Andre,” Myers said. “I can pretty much unequivocally say without it, we’re not looking at the team we have right now. What Kevin did shows who he is, shows what he’s about and I think it’s clear that that’s winning. Without him doing that it would have been a different roster, and clearly to me, a roster that wasn’t as good as the one we have right now.”
“He did it on his own volition, which makes it that much more impactful and impressive to me,” Myers said. “He’s a max player for the foreseeable future forever. For him to do something like that is commendable. Without him doing that other sacrifices as far as roster would have had to be made.
Tim Kawakami: Durant took $6.8M less than he could've gotten from GSWs. Nick Young got $5.2M. Iguodala got $2M more per year more than last offer.
Kevin Durant will sign a two-year deal to return to the Golden State Warriors worth somewhere between $51 and $53 million with a player option in the second season, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been finalized. The irony? The rich get richer because Durant was willing to leave so much money on the table.
Durant, according to multiple sources, is not just passing on the new maximum contract he could get, which would start at $34.65 million. His plan is to also pass on taking the maximum raise he is eligible for, which would start his salary at $31.6 million.
Mark Deeks: EXTREMELY IRRELEVANT SIDE NOTE: Durant will now have the ability to veto any trade he is in.
Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Kevin Durant will agree to a two-year, approximately $53 million deal, league sources tell ESPN. Durant, who is an unrestricted free agent, will possess a player option on the second year, sources say. Sources say Durant would likely opt out again in the summer of 2018.
The 2017 NBA Finals MVP will be taking somewhere in the vicinity of a $9 million pay cut, being that he could have secured a max of $34 million. This act of selflessness is giving the Warriors every resource possible to recruit and retain talent.
Anthony Slater: Kevin Durant's $25 million salary is $9.5 million less than his max, $6.8 less than expected and $1.54 million less than he made last year.
Tim Kawakami: And the $31.8M salary for this coming season was a give-back itself, the 20% raise with non-Bird Rights, which is less than actual max.
Adam Lauridsen: Kevin Durant just gave up more than $10M to allow his Warriors teammates to re-sign at closer to their market value. Team first, period.
Albert Nahmad: Kevin Durant will be Early Bird next summer. Allows 75% raise (not over max). He’ll be eligible for max ($36M projection). Must be 2-4 yrs.
Chris Haynes: ESPN Sources: Kevin Durant will agree to re-sign with Golden State on a two-year, approximately $53 million deal, league sources tell ESPN.
Kevin Durant was drawn to the Warriors largely by the unselfishness he witnessed. In that spirit, his biggest assist might be coming this month. Durant, according to multiple sources, is not just passing on the new maximum contract he could get, which would start at $34.65 million. His plan is to also take entire raise he is eligible for, which would start his salary at $31.5 million.
Golden State now has $130M in guaranteed contracts that include the three-year, $48M Andre Iguodala contract and $31.8M projected Kevin Durant salary.
David Aldridge: Can still expect quick Durant re-sign in Golden State when/if Iguodala re-signs w/Dubs. Will still be 1+1 deal for slightly less than max.
Chris Haynes: ESPN Sources: With Kevin Durant technically a free agent, teams haven't reached out to gauge his mindset knowing it would be a waste of time
Kevin Durant declined to opt in for the second year of his contract with Golden State and will become an unrestricted free agent, an expected move for the NBA Finals MVP who said he plans to do his part to keep the core of the champion Warriors intact to chase more titles. A person with direct knowledge of the decision confirmed Durant's intentions Thursday, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.
"Look for (Durant) to sign later in the month," one source said this week. Free agency begins at 12:01 AM ET Saturday. July 6 is the first day teams can sign players to new deals.
"Everyone expects this to be an easy process," one source added, noting how close Durant and Kleiman have become over the course of the past year with Warriors general manager Bob Myers, who Monday was named as the NBA's Executive of the Year for the second time.
Brian Windhorst: If Kevin Durant plays ball and the owners don't mind writing checks, they will. Durant's situation is a little complicated, but what you need to know is that if he's willing to accept a salary of $31.8 million for next season instead of his "max" of about $34.7 million, then the Warriors will be freed up to re-sign their key players. Durant has indicated he will do just that and the Warriors will be kept together, though Durant will probably take another one-year contract with a player option for next season for procedural reasons so he can recoup the money long-term.
Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant will decline his player option for the 2017-18 season and technically become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but he will re-sign with the team, league sources tell ESPN.
All signs, according to sources, point to Durant signing another one-plus-one pact, which carries a player-option at the end. With Durant opting to sacrifice, according to league sources, the Warriors would not need to create room under the cap to re-sign him and thus would not need to renounce their rights to any of their other free agents.
The 2017 NBA Finals MVP will turn down a player-option salary of approximately $28 million to momentarily hit free agency with the intentions of taking less than the max he's eligible for as a 10-year veteran. This is in order to improve the Warriors' chances of re-signing reserve stud Andre Iguodala, league sources told ESPN.
But Durant has given every indication that he will take the 20% raise in order to give the Warriors the flexibility to pay Iguodala and Livingston whatever salary necessary above and beyond the cap number. By doing this new 1 + 1, Durant would be eligible to receive a “super-max” deal of about $205M in July 2018 when the Warriors would have his Early Bird Rights.
“I feel as though I am going to be back here — no question,” Durant said. “We’ll all figure something out, work something out. I want to be here. We just won a championship, man. Let’s see if we can do it again. Feels weird saying that. But winning a championship is the ultimate goal. But it’s easy for me to say that now. Hopefully we get it done.”
Anthony Slater: Kevin Durant shrugs away more free agency rehash questions, said he's "tired of it" "talked about it all year" and wants to "stay in moment"
“What we never talked about in those days in the Hamptons in July was money, and how much exactly he’d get in Golden State versus anywhere else,” Durant’s agent, Rich Kleiman, told The Vertical. “And that won’t be a factor this year in our talks with them either.”
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is willing to take less than the maximum contract extension he is eligible for this summer as a 10-year veteran if it helps the Warriors keep the core of their team intact, league sources told ESPN.
Durant's gesture would allow the Warriors to keep their entire core together for years to come even as star point guard Stephen Curry potentially signs one of the first five-year, "supermax" contracts created by the new collective bargaining agreement in which a team can reward one designated veteran player per year with a contract starting at 35 percent of next year's projected $101 million salary cap.
This is particularly relevant to free agents Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who have been pivotal to the Warriors' success as they have advanced to three straight NBA Finals.
“I made the 100 percent correct decision, win or lose,” Durant told The Undefeated after the Warriors’ practice at AT&T Center in San Antonio on Sunday. “I feel like this is the place I was supposed to be. I appreciate everything I’ve done before this. But I’m here now, and I feel like it’s a great spot for me to be.
“This is where I am supposed to be at this point of my life. I’m taking it on and conquering every part of it. I’m enjoying every single step.”
Will you be playing for the Warriors next season? (Durant has a one-year player option for next season with the Warriors paying $27.7 million.) Yeah. I love it here. I love my teammates. I love the city [of Oakland]. I love the organization. I love it here. I don’t plan on going anywhere else.
Albert Nahmad: But that’s just one of the many fun and intriguing storylines for Warriors fans this summer and in the years ahead. Kevin Durant is at the core of an entirely different one. (He likely already knows how it’ll turn out. But we don’t. Which creates drama!) Kevin Durant, who'll have Non-Bird rights with Warriors this summer, holds the future of Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston in his hands. Durant could seek $35M max, but Warriors would need to create cap space for it, which likely includes renouncing Iguodala and Livingston. If Durant is willing to take $31.8M on 1+1, Warriors could exceed cap to re-sign Iguodala and Livingston… and max Durant out next summer.
With LeBron and the Cavs also having swept their semifinal matchup, it’s going to be slim pickings to find NBA topics this week. SO THANK YOU, KENDRICK PERKINS! The former OKC center had this to say on TNT tonight: “The night that Russ actually broke the record, I had text KD the next day […] and he said ‘Hey man, me and Russ had a nice conversation the other day.’ They’re back on talking terms, put their differences apart. And I wouldn’t be surprised if KD went back to Oklahoma cause, in my opinion, Russ isn’t going nowhere.”
Noah Coslov: Here's Kendrick Perkins on Area 21 on KD & Russ being on speaking terms and thoughts on KD returning to OKC at some point.
Anthony Slater: Warriors announce Kevin Durant will hold 'Fantasy Basketball Experience' in Oakland in mid-Sept. Probably a good free agency sign for GSW.
Next step: Iguodala. If he and Myers can nail down the salary numbers and length, and if Durant’s deal means the Warriors can maintain Iguodala’s Bird Rights, then this is basically a done deal. In fact, an NBA source indicated recently that the only real open question now is the amount of years.
The key mathematical part of this for the Warriors is Durant, who could seek the max of about $36 million for 2017-2018. But the Warriors don’t have his Bird Rights, so they’d have to shed a lot of money to create the cap space to fit such a salary, and that would include the renouncing of Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
But if Durant is willing to take strictly a 20-percent raise from this season’s salary of $26.5 million up to $31.8 million, the Warriors would not have to fit him into cap space and then could use Bird Rights to re-sign Iguodala and Livingston above and beyond the cap. “Haven’t even thought about it that much,” Durant said on the podcast. “But I don’t plan on going anywhere else.”
Kevin Durant has no intentions to host another nauseating round of free agency pitch meetings with desperate suitors in the Hamptons. Durant is set to become a free agent once again this summer, but this decision will be fairly simple: He will remain with the Golden State Warriors. "I haven't even thought about it that much but I don't plan on going anywhere else," Durant said on the Warriors Plus Minus podcast.
Durant sees the entire situation being resolved in the summer, where the Warriors' key free agents can make a collective decision. "Obviously you want to keep this group together, you want to see how far we can go. I'm sure once the season is over with we can figure out that stuff, everybody, and I'm sure it will all work out for the best."
J. Michael Falgoust: Brooks on being hired to lure KD to DC: "That was never mentioned" in his inteview with Grunfeld #WizGSW
But Durant could nix that issue by taking a starting salary of $31.8 million — a 20 percent increase from this season, but about $4 million less than his projected max. That would allow the Warriors to sign him under his non-Bird rights, freeing them to go over the cap to retain Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. At Saturday’s All-Star availability in New Orleans, Durant was asked if that’s something he would consider. “We’ll figure that out when the time comes,” Durant said.
“I’m liking it here,” Durant said. “I’m liking everything that’s going on. I know what my contract says, but I didn’t plan on coming here for just a year. I’m in it right now, and I’m also just focusing on day by day. I know it’s cliché, and you hear that all the time, but I’m seriously just not thinking about it because I’m like – I’m just in it for the long haul.”
“I have no angst whatsoever (about re-signing Durant and Curry),” Warriors owner Joe Lacob told USA TODAY Sports. “I totally am positive (that) I think those guys are going to sign. They’re both free agents. They have a right to do whatever they want. They’ve earned it, and I respect that. If they don’t sign with us for some reason, then shame on me and us. I take responsibility for that. But I don’t see that happening.”
Sam Amick: Oh, by the way: Warriors GM Bob Myers sitting w/ Durant associate, Rich Kleiman & Curry agent Jeff Austin. So there's that...
Because Durant would need to be signed with cap space, the large cap holds of both Shaun Livingston ($10.9 million) and Andre Iguodala ($16.7 million) would need to be renounced. Curry’s $18 million free-agent cap hold will now be replaced with a likely $36 million salary. The remainder of the roster would be filled using the room mid-level exception and minimum players, meaning the total committed salaries for next season will likely be $135 million. Golden State will likely be in the luxury tax with a $21.5 million penalty. A. Under contract Kevin Durant $36,050,000. Stephen Curry $36,050,000. Klay Thompson $17,826,150. Draymond Green $16,400,000.
Did Durant deceive the Thunder in any way? Donovan, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: I think Kevin on the front end was very, very honest. When the season ended, he was going to go through this process, and he was going to take a meeting with us obviously first and then he was going to have some other teams he was going to meet with. And I think a little bit later on, after the season ended, they decided to do it out in the Hamptons. But I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball. We talked about our team. We talked about direction, talked about obviously his leadership, his role – all those kind of things. And I think, leaving the meeting, it was very, very, I thought, positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides.
And the one thing I think with Kevin was that going through nine years with the organization, he was at a point in time where he was allowed obviously to be this free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting. So, obviously, I think, being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously, after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind probably changed.
Fred Katz: Anthony Morrow on @Sirius XM NBA on Kevin Durant going to the Warriors: "I didn't feel betrayed." https://t.co/6GzB8NjwyT
Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant refuted a report that he told his ex-Oklahoma City teammates – including Russell Westbrook – that he planned to re-sign with the Thunder. “It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it. I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
“I’m not coming into a team where a guy is playing my position and we have try to fit in two guys playing the same position,” Durant told The Vertical. “I’m not coming in trying to play the point guard, trying to play the shooting guard. I’m a small forward. The team didn’t have a small forward when I signed. Steph, Klay, Draymond, the bigs, we all play different positions. Whether it’s minutes, shots, opportunities, any good team will have players sacrificing. That’s the nature of the game. I’m not coming into a game saying that I need my 18 shots and I need to get to the line 12 times. I let the game flow naturally.”
Frank Hassle: Did Durant really tell Russ he was coming back? Or did you just misspeak on the @TrueHoopTV pod? You saying he lied to Russ? - Royce Young: I'm not sure what I said. What I meant is Westbrook believed Durant would come back after their meeting.
“If you like basketball. If you enjoy basketball,” Durant said. “But if you enjoy the drama and everything that comes around, the narratives, the comparisons and the rankings, obviously, it’s going to be like a TV show to you. If you enjoy pure basketball, like I enjoy it, then it don’t matter who is playing. You’re going to want to watch good basketball. If you enjoy basketball in its purest form, you can appreciate how far our league has come and the great players in our league. But if you enjoy all that [expletive] that comes from the outside, then you’ll love the boos and the tweets and the first takes and all that. I love basketball and I love whoever loves the game in its purest form.”
A sporting goods store in Oklahoma City took a drastic move -- marking down some Kevin Durant Thunder jerseys to 99 percent off. The jerseys, rendered less desirable by Durant's signing with the Golden State Warriors earlier this month, were hanging on a rack this week at an Academy Sports+Outdoors store in town with a sign advertising them for 48 cents. The replica jersey normally sells for $69.99. No matter how much disdain the community might have for Durant, the jerseys did eventually sell out.
Jae Crowder was a part of the Boston Celtics' pitch to Kevin Durant this summer, and after the meeting, he said he felt pretty confident. "I came home after the meeting and told them, like, if he leaves, he's coming to us. But I didn't think he was leaving," Crowder said before a 60 Days of Summer appearance at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
"We were the only team in the NBA to beat both (Cleveland and Golden State) on their home court — the only team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics," Crowder said. "We told him that. We played him clips from both games and told him basically the scouting report of how we guarded Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) — our entire game plan, basically. That's what made me mad. We (expletive) told him everything we do to beat these guys, and we beat them, and he went and joined them. I mean, that's part of the process, but I did not think he would go to those two teams ... I felt like afterward, I was talking to Isaiah, like maybe after you sit back, you shouldn't have told him everything, but who the (expletive) thought he was going to Golden State, realistically? It was like a slap in the face for us, basically."
January 22, 2021 | 3:55 am EST Update
Washington is expected to check in on Len if he does clear waivers, according to someone familiar with their plans. It is unclear how strong their interest would be, as they are exploring several options.
Your name has popped up in trade rumors a bit over the last year. Do you keep up with trade rumors or do you try to block them out? Kendrick Nunn: “I pretty much block them out unless my agent contacts and tells me that there’s a possibility that I could get traded. Anything on social media and stuff, obviously I’m on there so it comes up and I read it, but I try to just ignore it and stick to what my team tells me.”
Immediately after the game he went on TNT and had to hear Shaq, who said earlier in the night that Mitchell was just a scorer, say: “I said tonight that you are one of my favorite players but you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level. I said it on purpose because I wanted you to hear it. What do you have to say about that?” What did Mitchell have to say? “Aight.”
Ben Anderson: Donovan Mitchell on the comments from Shaq and Barkley on @NBAonTNT . “I hate to take a win like this and make it about what they said about me. Look at how we played, look at how we guarded. I’m happy.”
Eric Walden: Donovan Mitchell, on the TNT commentary: “We’ve won seven in a row. I hate to take a win like this and make it about me. … I’m here to play basketball and to win and to be the best teammate I can be. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it.”
Tony Jones: Rudy Gobert on the TNT crew and comments: “At the end of the day, whatever they want to call us, if we keep winning games, they will have to watch us anyway. Hopefully they have to watch us until July. And then they can call us whatever they want.”
Eric Walden: Mike Conley, on Shaq’s comments about Donovan Mitchell: “I’ve been a big fan of Don’s and seeing the way he’s grown, even before he was here. I don’t know how you can make a statement like that regarding his progress at such a young age. He’s gotten better every year.”