NBA GMs Pick LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the Top Franchise Players

NBA.com released its GM survey results Tuesday and the data is highly amusing. GMs predict that the Heat will beat the Thunder in the Finals. They have Kevin Durant winning regular season MVP over LeBron James. They’re high on Gregg Popovich as a coach, Dwight Howard as a big man and defender, and the Clippers’ offseason. They’re also big on Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, and Raptors draft pick Jonas Valanciunas. I encourage you to read the entire survey if you’re a basketball fan, but the one item I thought was most noteworthy concerned the franchise player question.

If you were starting a franchise and could sign any player, who would it be?

    T1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — 37.0%
    T1. LeBron James, Miami — 37.0%

    3. Derrick Rose, Chicago — 14.8%
    4. Dwight Howard, Orlando — 7.4%
    5. Dwyane Wade, Miami — 3.7%

Kevin Durant was number one on the list last season at 55.6%, so either he or LeBron did something to narrow the gap. Maybe it’s that Durant lost in the Conference Finals while the Heat reached the Finals. Or maybe GMs were holding something against LeBron for leaving Cleveland.

Even though James is three years older than Durant, I’d still choose him as my franchise player. He is the best all-around player in the league, and he has a good shot at winning his first title.

Stan Van Gundy Says the Thunder Can Trade Kevin Durant to the Magic

The Thunder are off to a hot start in 2011.  They’ve begun the season 4-0, already proving they can win close games down the stretch on multiple occasions.  In a Western Conference that features a weakened Lakers team, an aging defending champion that lost several role players, and an overhauled Clippers team that could take a season to gel, the Thunder have a chance to make a deep playoff run.  Seemingly the only thing that can stop Oklahoma City is a rift between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  Since the two have already needed to be separated on the bench, the situation will be one worth monitoring going forward.

The always outspoken Stan Van Gundy has a solution that could help the Thunder get past the dispute between their two superstars.

“When you’re together as much as we are in very competitive situations, you’re going to have those conflicts,” Van Gundy said according to The Oklahoman. “You’re going to have player-coach conflicts and player-player conflicts. You know, you just are. Because everybody is competitive, everybody wants to win, everybody wants to do well and a lot of times you see situations differently.

“I think it’s very serious, and I think the only thing they can do is split those two guys up. And I think they need to get them a long way away, I think here to Florida, to diffuse that problem; Kevin Durant here.”

I bet you would enjoy that, Stan.  That way Dwight Howard would stay and everyone lives happily ever after. Unfortunately for Orlando, the Thunder are going to be just fine.  Westbrook and Durant will likely realize the potential of this year’s squad and learn to coexist — even if they don’t like each other.  Van Gundy shouldn’t need a psychology professor to tell him that.

Chest bump to Ball Don’t Lie for the story.

Video: Kevin Durant Winning Three-Pointer to Beat Mavericks at Buzzer

You didn’t really think Vince Carter was going to hit the winning shot in a game, did you? Kevin Durant made sure that wasn’t the case, nailing a three at the buzzer to beat the Mavericks 104-102 Thursday in Oklahoma City. Here’s a video of his impressive shot:

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Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant Altercation Leads to 0-13 Shooting Night

The supposed rift between Oklahoma City stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant took another turn on Wednesday night. Oklahoman reporter Darnell Mayberry says Westbrook and Durant got into an altercation on the Thunder bench after players objected to the way Westbrook scolded teammate Thabo Sefolosha. Westbrook was upset that Sefolosha passed on an open shot and cursed at him. Teammates tried to calm Westbrook down, but it didn’t work.

According to Mayberry’s report, “Westbrook appeared to take exception to how Durant delivered his message. The two began shouting at each other and had to be separated.

Durant patted Westbrook on the head when the two took the court out of the timeout, and the two seemed to communicate well throughout the rest of the game.”

Though Mayberry says the two got along the rest of the game, Westbrook had one of his worst games as a pro — an 0-13 shooting performance that resulted in four points, four turnovers, and six assists.

Durant and coach Scott Brooks had nothing bad to say after the game, and Brooks even said the intensity from his players was “healthy.” People will probably turn this into a bigger deal than it needs to be because many feel Westbrook is too selfish of a player.

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Jeff Green: I Was Overshadowed by Durant and Westbrook, I Can Really Play

If and when the NBA settles their obnoxious labor dispute, Jeff Green has some business to take care of.  Green was one of the main pieces in the surprising Kendrick Perkins deal the Celtics put together last season.  Boston gave up a talented young player but hoped bringing one in would help ease the worries of Celtics fans.  Green contributed some quality minutes off the bench, but was not exactly what you would call a difference-maker.  When play resumes, he hopes to change that.

“Yeah, man, you know a lot of people don’t know what I can really do,” Green told the Boston Herald on Wednesday. “In Oklahoma, I was kind of overshadowed by Kevin (Durant) and the way Russell (Westbrook) picked up, but, excuse my language, I can really (expletive) play. I can really play this game, man.”

When you have one guy who is capable of doing this and another who thinks he’s the best player on the floor, it is certainly easy to be overshadowed.  With the Celtics roster aging rapidly and the Big Three entering the final year(s) of their careers, Boston needs Green to step up and be more than just a role player — assuming they resign him as a restricted free agent.

“I had some good meetings with (coach) Doc (Rivers) before the lockout, and I’ve been talking to (Paul Pierce) and Ray (Allen),” Green said. “Next year they’re really going to allow me to play, and I think that’s what I need. I need to go out there and just play. Sometimes I think too much, but I just need to go out there and play the game. I’ve got great confidence in myself, but things were a little difficult last year.”

If he’s using Durant and Westbrook as an excuse in Oklahoma City, he should use Pierce, Garnett, and Allen as motivation in Boston.  Their leadership and experience can only help a player like Green, and they won’t be around much longer.  The former Hoya has a great opportunity and great situation in Boston.  Now, he just has to cash in.

Chest bump to I Am a GM for the story.

Kevin Durant Growing Tired of Lockout, Getting Ready to Play Overseas

When the NBA’s best players start talking about playing overseas, it may be time to officially start worrying about the lockout.  As far as the public is concerned, there has been little to no progress made with the labor negotiations between the NBA and NBA Players Association.  Players have found a variety of activities to keep themselves occupied while David Stern continues to insult everyone.  Kevin Durant, who has been a big advocate of the players not getting cheated with the new deal, says he is almost ready to take his game overseas.

“I know it’s not a good one,” Durant said of the NBA’s proposal according to Yahoo! Sports. “It’s not the one that we want. …If it’s not a good deal, I don’t see why we should take it, especially this late.

“I’m right on the fence with playing overseas and I’m about to jump over.”

To this point Durant has only turned to flag football to keep himself busy during the lockout.  Obviously he could be completely bluffing and doing his best to nudge the talks in the right direction, but it would not be good for the NBA to have its best players signing contracts in Europe.  As Durant has already stated, the pickup games are getting old.  If a deal is not going to be reached and the season cannot be saved, players want to be able to join a legitimate league and play competitively to stay sharp.  With each day that passes, a shortened NBA season starts to look more and more like no NBA season.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk for passing the story along.

LeBron James and Kevin Durant to Play in Flag Football

LeBron James is finally getting his wish. After months of flirting with resuming his football career, which, you know, ended in high school, LeBron will finally play in a real game. Sort of.

James tweeted Thursday that on November 30th, Team LeBron James will face Team Kevin Durant in a flag football game.

This game has been in the works since October when Durant played for an Oklahoma State fraternity in an intramural flag football game. LeBron was jealous of Durant’s fun and issued a challenge. KD has accepted, and they have organized the game.

LeBron just better make sure the rules involve two halves of football, instead of four quarters.