David Ramil of Hardwood Paroxysm: “With both superstars’ respective tenures in OKC set to expire, there’s a sense that buying-in to whatever Donovan’s selling could be worth their while. LeBron left Cleveland and has now come back for good; he has all the resulting leverage regarding the team’s future. If the team were forced to decide between James and Blatt, you could bet it would keep the former. Meanwhile, Durant and Westbrook could be playing their last seasons with the team. It’s unlikely (or at least unprecedented) that either would force Presti to fire Donovan just to remain with the Thunder. Like so many players before them, if they were unhappy with a coaching situation, the could always just leave and enjoy the same luxury that James holds with the Cavaliers on a new team.”
Zach Lowe of Grantland: “And that’s the interesting question here: How proactive do the Wizards want to be in courting Durant? If he’s healthy, Durant is so damn good, you can instantly construct whatever identity you’d like around him. But after eight years getting by on talent, perhaps Durant would like to see something more in place before venturing out of what is a pretty damn good situation in Oklahoma City. If the Wizards don’t think Wittman is the coach to take them to the next level, or if they sense Durant may not think that, shouldn’t they move to find that coach now — a year ahead of Durant’s free agency?”
The new KD 8. It might be coincidental, but the there’s some extra bubble padding where the fifth metatarsals are. Interesting.
Interesting from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo on Curry and Kerr: “In so many ways, Kerr has been perfect for Curry. He’s held him to higher standards, pushed him to be sharper, streamlined and to pursue efficiency. Kerr won over Curry with preparation and purpose, leaving behind a failed coaching regime of empty rah-rahs and guilt-tripping. Kerr has challenged Curry to be a defensive player, refusing to hide him. Most of all, Kerr has delivered Curry a genuine NBA offense – movement and misdirections. Before there was no structure, mostly isolation plays after isolation plays. As the Warriors’ season teetered on Monday, Golden State rediscovered itself with hard-driving defense, resolved rebounding and the gift of the MVP’s peerless shooting.”
The Sixers have new logos. Wonder when the Thunder will do this?
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com on the Warriors last night: “This night was about the Warriors — these 67-win Warriors that opened the postseason as favorites to be champions but spent the past week falling behind in a series and out of favor with analysts. They were one road loss away from going down 3-1. Instead, they dominated the Grizz from the opening tip till the final buzzer, regained homecourt advantage, converted one fan and, in some ways, grew up right before our eyes.”
Berry Tramel: “Memphis is a different animal. The Grizzlies play ferocious defense and control tempo. The Thunder knows well what it’s like to play Memphis in the playoffs. Three series since 2011; the Thunder won two, but both in seven games. Overall record between the teams in those series: Memphis 10, Thunder nine. Sure, five of those games were without Russell Westbrook, but seven were without Rudy Gay (injured during the 2011 playoffs), which isn’t as debilitating as no Westbrook but still is a blow. The Grizzlies turn basketball games into alley fights. Maybe Golden State survives, maybe it doesn’t. But the Warriors are learning that Western Conference survival rarely is easy.”
Another funny thought from Tramel: “We’ve heard stories of Blatt gaffes all season, with LeBron and assistant coach Tyronn Lue serving as de facto head coaches much of the season. Then Sunday, we saw Blatt first try to call a timeout the Cavaliers didn’t have, only to be saved by Lue before the refs could blow a whistle that might have sunk the Cleveland season. Then we saw Blatt suggest LeBron inbound the ball with 1.5 seconds left in a tie game, which would have sparked a parade in downtown Chicago. LeBron vetoed that idea and instead sank a game-winner. So if Blatt is replaced, hard to find anyone who could blame the Cavs. And if Cleveland goes looking for a coach, I know a good one available. Scotty Brooks.”
Chad Ford of ESPN Insider on OKC’s draft needs: “None of Roberson, Morrow, Waiters or Jeremy Lamb does much for me. They have four guys trying to hold down that position, and none of them are doing the job. I’m not totally sold that the right 3-and-D guy will be there when they draft — trades or free agency might be the better route given that they’re trying to win a title. In my “Grade: A” mock I had R.J. Hunter here, and I still believe he’d be a great pick for the Thunder — if he’s around. I have a feeling he could be a guy who starts rising in workouts. Oubre is another option, though he’s so young and raw; I’m not sure he really fits their short-term goals. I think Jerian Grant would be another interesting option here just because of his ability to play both backcourt positions. He’s got great athletic ability, he’s one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. He’s not a lights-out shooter, however, and that could scare the Thunder off.”