Storyline: Durant-Westbrook Relationship

177 rumors in this storyline

Durant, a former MVP and two-time Finals MVP himself, was quick to choose the latter, who he won two NBA titles with in three seasons with the Golden State Warriors. “Steph Curry,” Durant replied to the question on ex-Thunder teammate Serge Ibaka’s cooking show Monday. “He can shoot better.” Curry is a 48% career shooter and 44% career three-point shooter while Westbrook is 43% from the field and a 31% from beyond the arc on his career.

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While Durant was always the best player on the Thunder during his tenure in OKC, Smith is reporting Westbrook had trouble following KD as the team’s leader for a couple of reasons. “Several people have come up to me. A couple of people who used to play in Oklahoma City. Several people that are incredibly familiar with the history of KD in Oklahoma City. They said when he was in Oklahoma City, he wasn’t viewed as the leader,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday. “They said it was hard for Russell Westbrook to follow him because KD, the man that you see right now, was a boy back then. And Russell Westbrook came in a man. “So to go to Russell Westbrook and to ask him to follow that guy, Russell Westbrook was a man lookin’ at you like you’re asking him to follow a boy. I’m quoting. I’m not tellin’ you who. But I’m quoting folks that said that and it was more than one person.”

Others have given Westbrook the blame for Durant bailing on being beloved Oklahoma City and heading for greener pastures with the Golden State Warriors, a team that is loose, shares the ball and has an elite coach. Durant is not intense like him, and others view him leaving as the belief that he couldn’t win a championship with Westbrook as his co-pilot. “It wasn’t as much to do with Russ as the media made it look like at all, I know that for a fact,” Morrow said. “He wanted to build on his legacy, he wanted to win. He felt like we tried, 10 years, it ain’t work… I could tell you that that’s how he was thinking about that.”

In an exclusive interview with 95.7, the Warriors star gave his insight on why he joined the Bay Area in free agency two years ago, and it seems that he was throwing shade at Russell Westbrook and the rest of his former OKC teammates. “You can’t learn about life if you’re the only player on the team… You’re the only player on the team and nobody is just as good as you, nobody has that experience or that thought process of how you’re thinking as a ball player.”

Chris Mannix: “The relationship between Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City was never really torched. Oklahoma City always said the right things about him, and they always did right by him publicly. And the relationship between Durant and Russell Westbrook, while not being great by any stretch, is probably as good as it’s been since he left Oklahoma City. So all those things are gonna factor in and make me think Oklahoma City will at least be on his list of possibilities [in free agency] next summer.”
2 years ago via ESPN

Kevin Durant and his mother, Wanda, believe the hype surrounding Durant and Russell Westbrook has gone too far. “It’s not about me and Russ,” the small forward told ESPN after the Golden State Warriors lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-91 on Wednesday. “It’s about the Thunder and the Warriors. Myself and Russ are competing out there. That’s part of the game. It’s basketball. It’s not about us. We’re just playing the game, and trash talking is part of it. That’s all it is.”

Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Durant finished with 21 points and five rebounds. First, Durant and Westbrook appeared to exchange some words during the second quarter of OKC and Golden State’s first meeting of this season. After Westbrook forced a turnover, he was shown on the broadcast saying something as Durant walked away and laughed. Per reporters at the game, the Thunder guard made KD laugh by shouting or shaking his head “No” at the crowd.

Late in the second quarter, Westbrook denied a post entry into Durant and the ball sailed out of bounds. Westbrook turned to the Warriors’ bench and yelled, “No!” Durant pointed at Westbrook while just smiling. Westbrook was then fouled on the other end by Draymond Green. Green didn’t like the call, and he began clapping in the vicinity of Westbrook, and the reigning MVP began clapping back at him. The two had a few words before Westbrook went to the foul line to take his shots.

“I play the same way every night if it’s against Kevin or if it’s against Detroit,” he said. “It don’t matter who it is. On the court I have no friends. The only friend I have is the basketball. That’s it. And obviously my teammates, but I go out to compete and to guard and play at a high level. I’ve been that way since day one and that’s what I do.” Durant enjoyed the chatter. “Man, it’s just ball,” Durant said. “He’s competitive, I’m competitive. We like to go at it, both of us, and that’s just a part of the game.”

Adam Kemp of the Oklahoman passed along comments George made during a television interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski about the apparent rift between two of the league’s top players. “Whatever went between him and Russ that’s their business,” he said. “It’s not my point to want to know or want to figure out what happened. It’s pointless. They are buddies, they are back good again. I’m here to build something different and something special.”

Speaking after Golden State’s Monday morning shootaround in OKC, Steve Kerr disputed the report. “I don’t agree,” Kerr said. “(Thunder GM) Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know (Thunder owner) Clay Bennett. It’s a class organization all the way, so I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name name that’s put on it. I assume it’s just sources. Is it ‘sources’? I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. We have great respect for them. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first-class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”

But once again, even without being on the court this time, Durant is at the center of this swirling NBA drama. “This league is a very interesting place all the way through,” Steph Curry said. “Certain stories that don’t need to see the light of day, don’t need to have any life breathed into them somehow are the most popular. That’s kind of how it goes. To me, it’s kind of comical what can be put in the spotlight during an 82-game year…I actually look forward to waking up and seeing what ridiculousness is posted.”
3 years ago via ESPN

The pregame scene was just another in a weekend full of them showcasing the tension between Westbrook and Durant. At the Saturday “practice” — loose quotes at that — as the Western All-Stars were announced, they gathered at midcourt, each player running through the line dapping each other up. Durant was the second player out, behind Stephen Curry, and as Westbrook had his name called a few players after, Durant was sitting back on a table by himself as Westbrook ran out. The feeling in the practice locker room was described as “painfully quiet and uncomfortable.” In the subsequent mixed-zone media availability, Durant walked by Westbrook as the two appeared to strain so as not to make eye contact.
3 years ago via ESPN

It was jarring to watch Westbrook and Durant actively avoid each other, because it was a far cry from the way it used to be at All-Star Weekend. They’ve spent five together as teammates — both for the Western Conference and the Thunder — and while the weekend’s proceedings kept them separate for large amounts as they tended to sponsorship appearances and charity events, when they had the opportunity to, they were together. Durant and Westbrook made it a point to ride the same bus to every event they were both going to, always sitting next to each other. They would go out of the way to make sure they rode together to Sunday’s big game, with Durant driving 25 minutes in Toronto traffic to meet up with Westbrook at the Jordan Brand hotel last year. That happened in New York the year before, and in Houston in 2013 (Westbrook missed 2014 due to injury), they met in the middle.

Asked if he’ll use the opportunity to make amends with his ex-teammate, Durant said he doesn’t know. “It isn’t even something I’m thinking about, to be honest,” he said Friday on SportsCenter. “If it happens organically, it does, but I’m not planning to do anything. … If it happens, it does. If it doesn’t, it’s no big deal.” Instead, the former MVP’s priority is to enjoy the weekend’s festivities. “I’m going to handle All-Star weekend like I always do. Get in and get out. Do everything I’m supposed to do. Play the game and have some fun. I ain’t come here for it to be any drama or have a heart to heart with anybody,” he explained.

One last thing about their relationship, him and Russ. You told Adrian Wojnarowski that it’s sad for you to see that, you hate that it’s come to that. What do you think it’s gonna take for those guys to get back to what they had? Kendrick Perkins: I don’t think it’s a real beef there. I think it’s just more so maybe feathers being ruffled, just feelings being hurt. I don’t think either one of them got hard feelings. I done been around them for going on four, five years – numerous group messages to dinners to card games to whatever – and I know both of them really care about each other. And I think more so it’s the outside world that kind of blow it up and keep adding fuel to the fire. If you look back on it, either one of them never commented and said nothing negative about either one of them. I think in due time, they’ll mend. I was just talking to Russ, and Russ don’t have any hard feelings toward KD, and KD feel the same way. So I think in due time, they’ll get back on point where they’re talking again and get that relationship back.
3 years ago via ESPN

Stephen Curry: “I feel like we’ll be mature enough to just enjoy being All-Stars and being in that locker room and what wearing the West All-Star jersey means and celebrating everybody’s accomplishments. Obviously there’s competition and there’s history and whatever you want to call it. But at the end of the day we’re all trying to push our games to the next level and continue to just raise the interest [in] the NBA as a whole and do special things. And I think we all fit into that category. [I] can’t speak for KD or Russ or whatever, but being at All-Star is a special thing and you want to respect that.”
3 years ago via ESPN

3 years ago via ESPN

With Kevin Durant set to return to Oklahoma City for the first time since joining the Golden State Warriors, Russell Westbrook talked as extensively as he has in months about his severed relationship with his former teammate. “Obviously, us playing here, we grew up here together,” Westbrook said before Saturday night’s game. “Since then, his decision has been made about what’s best for him and his future and I made the decision that was best for mine, and that’s just how it’s been.”
3 years ago via ESPN

3 years ago via ESPN

In a SportsCenter sit-down with ESPN’s Marc Stein, Durant also insisted that ?he is prepared for whatever reaction greets him at Chesapeake Energy Arena, saying: “I know what’s important [to Thunder fans] and their team is way more important than just one player. … I’m not going in there acting like I’m going to be praised, I know how it’s going to be.” “I know they’re going to be rowdy in there, man,” Durant told Stein. “I’ve been a part of some of the loudest nights in that arena. So I know it’s not going to be the friendliest welcome, but, like I said, I can’t wait to see the people that I really built relationships with over my time there and, you know, I’m sure fans that I got to know throughout my time playing there, even though they might not cheer for me out loud, I’ll give ’em a wink and they know what we had deep down inside.”
3 years ago via ESPN

“I was doing an interview with someone and I used the word ‘unselfish’ to describe my teammates here [with] the Warriors and someone asked Russell the question, asked if he heard what I said about being unselfish and he phrased the question as if I was saying that the Thunder and the organization and the team was selfish. And once I heard that, I was like, ‘They are trying to get in between this thing and make it bigger than what it is.’ “Obviously Russell wasn’t going to hear that [full] interview I had about me just talking about my teammates I have now and someone in Oklahoma City phrased it to him as if I was calling them selfish. It’s that easy. It’s that easy for the media to twist something up and for the media, you know, [to] make a feud between us.”

Never mind that Westbrook would later make it clear that the two are still not on speaking terms, or that this was just the second time Durant had seen his old team since his surprising exit from Oklahoma City last July. This, Durant explained after his 40-point, 12-rebound, four-assist, three-block performance in the Warriors’ 121-100 win at Oracle Arena, was nothing more than your typical playground scene. “That’s all it was,” Durant told USA TODAY Sports. “You talk a little trash. (There’s) no tension. Nothing went on out there. Both teams played hard. He did what he’s supposed to do. I went out there and did what I was supposed to do. It’s nothing serious, man, nothing that we’re going to take off the court, you know what I’m saying? It ain’t gonna seep into the real world. It’s just basketball talk.”

“It’s nothing. There is nothing. Nothing to even to write about,” Durant said. “He’s on his team. I’m on my team. It is not a soap opera. It’s not VH1. It’s basketball. He’s doing his thing. I’m doing my thing. Ain’t nothing to it. We will [talk] when we will [talk]. There are plenty of times when I go months without talking to my friends. I’m out here grinding, doing my thing. He’s doing his. So, ain’t no hard feelings on my side. I don’t even think about it.”

The trio combined to score 71 points in a Game 1 win over LeBron James’ Heat. They were three wins from an NBA title. Harden was 22, Durant and Westbrook were 23. The chatter was building: Would this brand new franchise, plopped in middle America, rule the NBA for the next decade? “No. We never looked at it that way, like we could be best of all-time,” Durant said. “It was really AAU basketball, man. We were just having fun. We weren’t listening to anyone on the outside, media, none of that. It was just pure fun. When we did hear something about the group, it was like, what is this? That was so foreign to us because we never paid attention to it.”

“What? F— do I look like, man? Why would I ever say that?” Westbrook said in pregame interviews, apparently unaware of the video until he was asked about it. “I would never say no other man’s name like that, for one. ‘Thank you Kyrie.’ What do I look like? I was talking to my trainer’s daughter. His daughter’s name is Jayme. ‘Thank you Jayme.’ I’m tired of – I ain’t about to keep going on that. I’m gonna keep my spirit up. I’m not about to even involve myself in no dumb stuff like that. Next question, man.” As he waited for another question, Westbrook muttered, “Dumb a– s—.”

Durant has been politically correct when answering questions about Westbrook, the Thunder and Oklahoma City since arriving at the Warriors. But he revealed that his kindness hasn’t been rewarded. “One thing I was doing too much of was I was trying to be delicate with everyone’s feelings, especially the fan base in OKC, and my former teammates,” Durant told The Undefeated. “I had to realize that they don’t care. They’re going to dissect what they’re going to dissect. I was trying to be really considerate of their feelings and everything.”

So why haven’t Durant and Westbrook resolved their divorce? “It’s because of the outsiders,” Thabeet said. “Mostly, it’s the outsiders. It’s almost like everything Russell does is a shot at Kevin. It’s not even like that. Those guys actually have their lives. I talk to Russell. Russell’s my guy. He’s married. He’s happy. He’s living his life. “At the end of the day, these outsiders will fade. Somebody is going to win this year, and they are going to forget about this moment. It’s part of sports, I guess.”
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Bulls looking for a new GM?

According to several NBA executives, the Bulls have started the early stages of adding a new face to the front office, with the position defined as a general manager “with a louder voice.’’ One executive did say that the talks the Bulls have had with candidates have been through back channels, with no formal interviews taking place, but the search is believed to be wide-spread.
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This would be in-line with a Sun-Times report back in November, in which the newspaper wrote that general manager Gar Forman’s job security was taking on water, with the organization’s senior advisor Doug Collins the loudest voice in a needed change. Collins has never been a big fan of Foreman’s, starting with questioning Forman for the hiring of Fred Hoiberg.
The hope for Paxson is this new hire will take over the media duties, allowing him to slip into the background. As for Forman, he is not expected to be fired, but reassigned into a scouting position, as the team is also looking to build up that department. The Bulls have long been known for having a small scouting department, and they plan on an expansion this spring.
Jared Dudley: Will be done next December! Best teams will play each other.. will help the ratings! Big money prize for the top 2 teams in the finals

Storyline: NBA Schedule
February 16, 2020 | 6:53 pm EST Update
Amid the controversial yet inconsequential finish of the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, the league veered from the rules to determine Saturday’s winner. Instead of letting the judges vote for either Orlando’s Aaron Gordon or Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. after the first dunk of the dunk-off in the final round, the NBA allowed Gordon and Jones to attempt a second dunk-off dunk, which isn’t in the rules.
Storyline: All-Star Contests
Christian Yelich wasted no time getting from the NBA dunk contest to the Milwaukee Brewers spring training complex. On Saturday night, the 2018 National League most valuable player was a willing accomplice to the Bucks’ Pat Connaughton as he competed with three others in the annual mid-season dunk competition in Chicago. After taking a private plane overnight, there he was, bright and early Sunday morning, in the Brewers’ clubhouse at American Family Fields of Phoenix.
Asked if he were nervous about Connaughton jumping over him, Yelich said, “No, I didn’t have anything to be nervous about on that one. I was just standing there trying to keep still and hold the ball the right way, so I didn’t mess it up for him. It was cool. There was great energy in the stadium. For him to do it right on the first try, it was fun to watch. If he made it farther, I would have had a little bit more responsibility on another one.”
February 16, 2020 | 3:51 pm EST Update
The Spurs explored trading Carroll, but the Feb. 6 league deadline for teams to broker deals passed without any movement. Asked if he was surprised a trade didn’t happen, Carroll said, “Yeah, but no. Me being 33 and being in the league 11, 12 years, I know the NBA. If you really want to trade somebody, the biggest thing you have to do is maybe show their value, play them a little bit. Not playing really hurt my value a lot. It got a lot of teams probably second-guessing and saying, ‘Is he hurt? Is something wrong with him?’ ”
Storyline: DeMarre Carroll Trade?
Asked if a buyout is a possibility, a tricky situation given how much money remains on his contract, Carroll said he visited with his agent, Mark Bartelstein, in Chicago during All-Star Weekend. “He is handling that,” Carroll said. “Him and (Spurs general manager) Brian (Wright) and all of them. I don’t know what direction we are going to go. But at the end of the day, at 33, I don’t want to waste my talents just sitting at the end of the bench, knowing I could help a team produce.”
Make no mistake: The 11th-year pro isn’t ready to retire. “Another opportunity will come for me,” said Carroll, 33. “San Antonio, I don’t know where (it went wrong), what happened, what the hiccup was. But, at the end of the day, I am totally healthy. I work out every day, twice a day. When that opportunity comes, I will be ready to take advantage of it.”
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who is the Quicken Loans founder and chairman, is slowly returning to work eight months after he had a stroke. Gilbert, 58, returned to his Detroit office early this year. He’s there one or two days a week, using a wheelchair and accompanied by a service dog named Cowboy. He also spends three or four hours a day working with physical and occupational therapists at his home.
Gilbert said he had a blood clot in his carotid artery that was cutting off the blood supply to his brain. Doctors implanted seven stents inside his carotid artery to open the blood vessel. “If that artery was blocked more minutes than it was, it would have been much worse,” Gilbert said. Gilbert spent eight weeks at a rehabilitation center in Chicago last summer. He is able to walk with a cane but still struggles to move his left arm.
Storyline: Dan Gilbert Health
February 16, 2020 | 2:52 pm EST Update
‘Today was heavy,’ the 31-year-old wrote on Saturday as he documented his experience on Twitter. ‘We visited three country towns in New South Wales, massively affected by the wildfires. In Mogo, a small heritage town on the South Coast of NSW, we gave back to locals who have lost their homes, businesses and schools. Generators, torches, portable stoves, batteries, water, non-perishables: In addition to funds, these are some of the items that the impacted communities need. Now, more than ever, these people need our business. Support local.’
Whether or not the 54-year-old Smith ever ends up leaving Inside The NBA for a managerial role, he clearly has the desire for it. And though he didn’t take up the offer to be mentored, at least this time, that’s what made last season’s unprompted phone call from Ujiri so shocking to him. “I always had the aspiration,” Smith said, “but to have a guy like that call you out of the blue, not even knowing what my aspirations were? That was intriguing.”
February 16, 2020 | 12:23 pm EST Update
That was the thinking that convinced Mugar to adopt the Elam Ending for his league. “I’m so convinced that it’s the future of basketball,” he said. Mugar said he attributes a 17 percent bump in the tournament’s TV ratings at least in part to the introduction of the Elam Ending. He said he thinks fans are texting other fans to tell them to tune into fun games that are winding down.
One person that’s become a fan of the Elam Ending is Chris Paul, the veteran NBA point guard now with the Oklahoma City Thunder and current players union president. He said he’s a huge TBT fan and in 2019 coached a squad in the tournament for the first time. “For me, a guy who thinks about strategy, as I started watching the games more and more, every game had to have a game-winning shot. You couldn’t just foul. It got exciting,” he said. “In this format (for the All-Star Game), I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and an unbelievable tribute to Kobe.”
Elam said he got the call from the NBA on Jan. 23, informing him that the league would be using a variation of his concept. “When they called me, my mind started to think about some possible ways that the All-Star Game might end – a LeBron James dunk or James Harden three,” he said. Elam also said he’s heard from sportsbooks about prop bets planned for the game – they’re going to take wagers on who will hit the final shot that gets the winning team to the target score. “That will become one of the most popular prop bets in all of sports,” Elam said.
And yet as Indiana Pacers leaders converged on the windy city to wrap up their final leg of homework this weekend before Indy hosts the All-Star Game next year, they couldn’t help but remember all those 35 years ago. “We had some great parties, got through six inches of snow,” said Rick Fuson, who was the Indiana Pacers’ operational lead for the 1985 NBA All-Star Game in the Hoosier Dome. “But we want this time around to be an All-Star game like none the NBA has ever seen.”
Storyline: All-Star Locations
Larry Bird was one of the the city’s biggest advocates for an NBA All-Star Game return. The last time Indy hosted, Bird played in the game representing the Boston Celtics. “Back in 1985, there wasn’t nearly as much to it,” said Bird, now a consultant with the Pacers front office, after the city landed the event. “Now, the All-Star game is a spectacle. Every venue we have Downtown will be full. People will be excited, I think it will be fantastic. We’re going to put on a great show.”
Plans to re-create a fan experience like the city saw when it hosted the 2012 Super Bowl are already in the works, said Fuson. “If it’s weather that is 20 degrees and sunny, people will shoot baskets,” he said. “And they’ll drink a beer and have a cocktail. We’ve proven that before and it will happen again.” Downtown, well, it will look so different from what it did in 1985. “I remember in the late ’70s when I used to come Downtown at 9 o’clock when there was no place to eat, not many people walking around downtown,” said Bird. “This city has come a long way in the last 30 years. I’m very proud of it. I know a lot of residents are, too.” Fuson said all 6,700 hotel rooms Downtown will be used for the event next year.
Pau Gasol talked about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and looked back on being friends and teammates with the Lakers and NBA legend. “Once you slowly get over the void and the sadness and the pain you start looking at what he has left us. He was a guy who gave his best to whatever he did. He didn’t accept failure. He worked the hardest to be the best at what he did.
Storyline: Kobe Bryant Death
Pau Gasol: “You can see how now – after basketball, after his career – he was sharing all those values, all that knowledge to inspire the younger generations. To share the messages of ‘be the best that you can be’. ‘Dedicate yourself to your craft’.” If you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability,” Gasol said about Bryant’s legacy in a video by the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association).
February 16, 2020 | 12:06 pm EST Update
The problem for Young is, his numbers on defense are also eye-popping. According to ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus scale, which is a player’s estimated on-court impact on defensive performance based on 100 possessions, Young ranks last of 490 players (-4.66). According to Basketball Index’s defensive box/plus minus scale, his -2.7 mark ranks among the league’s worst. “Defense is obviously an area I want to continue to get better at,” Young said. “But that’s all about an effort thing. Getting in better conditioning, better shape. That’s definitely an area I need to improve (individually). … One of our biggest struggles (as a team) this year has been on the defensive end and rebounding.”