• As time passes, we find ourselves learning more and more about Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors. He was consistent throughout free agency in saying that it was a ‘basketball decision,’ but can anything ever be so simple?

    ESPN’s Royce Young, in talking about Russell Westbrook’s commitment to the Thunder and the shiny new contract that goes with it, makes brief mention of how the OKC-Durant personality match wasn’t as perfect as it seemed on the surface.

    “Durant always appeared to be the perfect fit with Oklahoma City, with his humble nature and down-home demeanor. But he also was drawn to a bigger city, not necessarily for the brighter lights, but for the ability to blend. In Oklahoma City, Durant carried a larger-than-life burden everywhere he went. He’d privately lamented to friends an inability to be in public.”

    That’s interesting, and a point that hadn’t been made nearly enough before. Celebrity status, whether you want it or not, is one of the burdens of playing in a smaller city where you’re the only game in town. In the Bay Area, the Warriors are certainly the most popular attraction but if you don’t care for basketball there are other sources of civic pride; the 49ers and Raiders, the Giants and the Sharks all exist, with the latter two proving very successful in the recent past. There’s also the fact that the area is awash with cash thanks to the tech boom and as a result is no stranger to celebrities.

    It’s tough to imagine him sticking out in a sea of the rich and famous; at least not nearly to the extent he did in Oklahoma City.

    On the other hand, it’s hard to envision Durant being less of a celebrity now than he was in Oklahoma City. He’s the biggest villain in the game for at least this year and likely more. Even if Steph Curry’s star shines brighter at the end of the day, Durant will be under a massive microscope. It’s one of the devil’s advocate arguments that starts to look flimsy given the circumstances of Durant’s decision.

    If he wanted to shy away from the spotlight the right move was probably to stay put. Now he’s made himself the center of attention by taking a bulldozer to the NBA landscape. The guy who does that usually doesn’t ‘blend.’

Fantasy News

  • Jonathan Isaac
    PF, Orlando Magic

    Jonathan Isaac (left knee) has been running on a low-impact treadmill for about two weeks now.

    Isaac went down at the beginning of January with what was thought to be a season-ending injury, involving a posterior lateral corner injury and a medial bone contusion — i.e., a severe sprain and a bone bruise. At that point he was set to be re-evaluated in 8-10 weeks, and while we're well past those timelines, Isaac does appear to be moving along in his recovery. It remains to be seen if he'll be available for Orlando's postseason chase or if the Magic would even bother risking his bright future at this point.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Evan Fournier
    SF, Orlando Magic

    Evan Fournier (right UCL sprain) is fully recovered.

    Fournier was supposed to be looking at an "extended absence" when he first went down in March, slamming the brakes on what was a top-70 season. The fact that he's healthy again will be a huge lift to the Magic, who currently occupy the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. They only need to hold off the Wizards to earn a playoff berth but also have an outside chance at jumping over the Nets to take the seventh spot.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    Kevin Durant (Achilles) will not return to the court this season, per Anthony Puccio.

    There were whispers that KD might be able to get back on the floor given the extra few months of the season, and especially after he's started to appear in workout videos, but it has been repeatedly speculated that Durant would not return during the 2019-20 season under any circumstance. There's no sense in having Durant shake off the rust in an intense setting, even if he may be capable of contributing right now. Brooklyn's eyes are rightfully on next season as far as serious contention goes.

    Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.

    The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".

    One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.

    Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.

    Source: James Edwards III

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ