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#pounditFriday, September 18, 2020

Kevin Durant

Video: Kevin Durant surprises fan with graduation message

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant made a fan’s graduation special.

Durant video-chatted with a fan over Instagram to congratulate the young man over his graduation. Durant praised the fan’s girlfriend, who worked hard to set up the chat. The video is below – just beware of a curse word at the end.

Durant probably gets these kinds of requests all the time, and they’re not easy to fulfill. The man’s girlfriend must have worked really hard to get Durant to do that. And seeing the Brooklyn Nets star deliver like that for a fan definitely helps his public image at a time when he could use it.

Kevin Durant had profane message for reporter writing Warriors book

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant had a profane message for a reporter who recently published a book about the 2018-2019 Golden State Warriors.

The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss has written a new book about the Warriors called “The Victory Machine.” Strauss had some friction with Durant over an article published in January 2019.

Despite the friction, Strauss says he reached out to Durant to see if the former NBA MVP would talk to him for the book. Durant was settled in Brooklyn by then and blew off Strauss with a profane message.

Here is what was said according to an article from Hua Hsu of The New Yorker:

“Months later, with Durant settled in Brooklyn, Strauss texted him to see if he would talk to him for ‘The Victory Machine.’ It feels like due diligence but also like a chance for Strauss to eke out one more anecdote for the book. ‘F–k u, f–k your sources and your book,’ Durant replied. He’s no longer on the team, but he’s on the cover of the book, anyway—alone.”

Strauss couldn’t have expected a very positive response from Durant given their history, and why would Durant be inclined to help someone he felt was problematic for him? He wouldn’t.

It’s hard to blame Durant for that response, and it’s probably somewhat unfair to him that his response is being publicized now.

Jay Williams does not think Kevin Durant returning this season is good idea

Kevin Durant

With the NBA season having been postponed, the Brooklyn Nets have not formally ruled out the possibility of Kevin Durant playing this season. Jay Williams thinks they should.

Williams, who hosts ESPN’s “The Boardroom” with Durant, told Marc Berman of the New York Post on Monday that he does not feel it would be wise for Durant to go from not playing the entire season while recovering from a torn Achilles to being thrown into a highly competitive atmosphere.

“I think everybody’s antsy,” Williams said. “As it relates to Kevin, it depends on the timetable of those games and how condensed it is. It’s one thing to come back and start the beginning of next season where there’s time and space between games and [you can] keep your body ramped up the right way. But someone coming back off an injury and go right into a playoff scenario, I don’t think it’s feasible or fair on Kevin himself. But Kevin is his own man. He’ll do what he wants to do.”

The NBA has yet to lay out a plan for the resumption of play, but there has been talk that there could be a three-week training camp period before finishing the season. There is still another month’s worth of games remaining in the regular season, but the NBA could opt to condense that and jump into the playoffs sooner. While Williams said Durant has been working out and is feeling great, he questions if playing this season would be worth the risk.

“It’s about how long will they train? How long will he play five-on-five with physical contact?” Williams said. “There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered. Someone can have great individual workouts and pickup games but until you play in full live-game situation with teammates, I don’t know the answer.”

The Nets are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but Kyrie Irving is not expected to play again this season because of a shoulder injury. Although Nets GM Sean Marks recently changed his tune a bit when discussing Durant, it still seems highly unlikely that the two-time NBA Finals MVP will play this season.

Nets GM Sean Marks says Kevin Durant could return this season

Kevin Durant

If and when the NBA returns to finish the 2019-20 season, could Kevin Durant return with it?

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks left the door open to a possible return this season when asked about it by Grant Chapman of New Zealand-based Newshub.

“That’s a $110m question,” Marks said. “In all seriousness, we’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot. He knows his body better than anybody. Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him to this point, but I just don’t know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.

“When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back. When the timing is right, he’ll be 100 percent when he gets on the court. I can tell you this though — before the pandemic, he looked like Kevin Durant and that’s a good thing.”

Durant was expected to miss the entire season as he recovered from Achilles surgery. It may be that that’s still the case. This is, however, a shift in Marks’ thinking compared to the last time he tackled this question.

Kendrick Perkins: Beef with Kevin Durant is over

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins says the beef he had with Kevin Durant is over.

Perkins and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder for parts of four seasons, including the team’s NBA Finals run in 2011-2012. But things turned this year after Perkins described Durant’s choice to join the Golden State Warriors as cowardly. Durant fired back at him, and a beef seemingly was on. But Perkins says things are good between them now.

Perk appeared on “Pardon My Take” for an interview and discussed Durant’s choice to join the Brooklyn Nets. Perkins says he would have joined the Knicks if he were Durant, but he’s fine with the choice his ex-teammate made.

“But either way, I’m happy for him. Me and Kev, we’re alright. We good peoples. We don’t have no beef,” Perkins said. “I just hope he gets healthy — which I think he is — and I have him picked to win the MVP.”

Why does Perkins believe KD will win MVP when he returns? Perkins believes not being healthy is “killing” Durant.

And while he no longer has a beef with Durant — something he tried to work out after Kobe Bryant’s death — Perkins says he still has time to talk with the trolls if they want to argue.

“It’s whoever want the smoke, because I got the time. If they want the smoke, I’m bringing the fire.”

As for Durant, he hasn’t played this season as he’s recovered from his torn Achilles, and he’s probably not returning even though this season has had a delay.

Draymond Green has issue with Kevin Durant letting free agency situation linger

Draymond Green

Kevin Durant’s free agency status left a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the Golden State Warriors all last season, and Draymond Green wishes things didn’t unfold that way.

Green spoke with Maverick Carter and Paul Rivera on “Uninterrupted” for a video published on Monday. During the program, Green talked about the Durant situation.

Green said he wished Durant had just been honest with the team and media about it being his last season with the Warriors rather than leave lingering uncertainty.

Green’s comments came in the context of “The Last Dance”, which aired on ESPN Sunday night. The title of “The Last Dance” documentary is a reference to Phil Jackson’s moniker for the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-1998 season. Jackson knew it would be the last time that dynasty would be together and made sure his players knew that entering the year so they could give it their all and make the most of the season.

Similarly, Green wishes Durant were more transparent about his future plans because he feels that would have eased tension within the locker room. A report last year said Durant and Kyrie Irving had already made plans to team up prior to the season. But Durant’s lack of transparency led to a blowup in the locker room between him and Green, which ultimately helped push Durant out the door.

Durant ended up spending three seasons with the Warriors, winning two championships and suffering a torn Achilles tendon last year in the Finals as his team lost to the Raptors. Though signing short-term deals with options allows players to maintain power over the team, it also creates chemistry issues within the locker room, as Green explained.

Kevin Durant was sensitive about fans favoring Steph Curry over him

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has moved on from Golden State and was in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets prior to the league going on hiatus. KD spent the three previous seasons with the Warriors, winning two championships and losing in the Finals last season. KD suffered a calf injury early in the playoffs and a torn Achilles tendon when he tried to return in the Finals.

During his time with the Warriors, Durant did not feel like he completely fit in. One of his big issues was he felt fans were forced to pick between him and Steph Curry at times. He even accused one writer of trying to drive a wedge between them.

Ethan Strauss has written a new book called “The Victory Machine: The Making and Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty,” and an excerpt from the book was published this week. In the excerpt, Strauss details an exchange he had with Durant on Jan. 5, 2019. The exchange came a day after Strauss wrote an article saying the Warriors sometimes sacrifice efficiency in their play in order to placate Durant.

Strauss writes in the first person in recalling the exchange:

I tried to make a few points, saying I didn’t begrudge him for having leverage with his contract, and insisted that I had good reason to write what I wrote. KD wasn’t impressed and accused me of trying to “rile up Steph’s fans.”

He expressed that this was a constant theme in the Bay. All of us local guys just wanted to kiss Steph’s a– at his expense. This was KD’s consistent lament. He would frequently squabble in direct-message conversations with the Warriors fans of Twitter, frequently accusing them of favoring Steph at his expense.

In one such exchange that foreshadowed things to come, he was asked by the WarriorsWorld account whether two-time MVP Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving was the better player. “I gotta really sit down and analyze it,” Durant demurred.

Durant has long been a sensitive person who is affected more by fan and media negativity than the average player. And even when Curry was trying to defend KD, the issues seemed to become too much for Durant by the end of his time in Golden State, leading him to leave the team.

In some regards, the dynamic between two superstars on the same team makes for a great talking point with the media, so yes, Durant is correct about the media’s narrative. On the other side, Durant also needs to learn to let it go, but instead he too often did not. Maybe it’s a lot easier said than done.

Nets GM avoids topic of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving returning this season

Kevin Durant

One interesting consequence to the NBA season being postponed is that players who were rehabbing from injuries now have the possibility of returning.

Kevin Durant has been rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon suffered during the NBA Finals last year. Kyrie Irving is rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. With the season pushed back, both players theoretically could be medically cleared to play this year.

Despite the possible clearance, Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks tried to downplay the matter.

“I couldn’t even give an answer on when they’ll be able to play this season,” Marks told reporters on Wednesday, via the New York Post.
“I don’t think that’s fair to those athletes nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. Everyone is dealing with bigger items, far more pressing items.”

Marks also noted that even though the medical timelines now are in sync with the season, the inability of players to go to the team facility may have pushed things back.

Even if the players theoretically could return, we doubt it happens. Kevin Durant’s agent said a summer return was unrealistic.

LeBron James, Kevin Durant among few NBA players already receiving 90 percent of their salary

LeBron James

The current work stoppage has complicated financial matters for most NBA players, but LeBron James and several others are better off than the majority.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Tuesday that players are receiving paychecks on April 1 but have not been assured further payments. Stein also notes that roughly 90 percent of NBA players will have received less than half of their 2019-20 salaries by the time that the April 1 checks go out because they are on 12-month payment plans.

However, James and several other Klutch Sports clients had negotiated “all-you-can-get” deals that pay out 90-plus percent of their 2019-20 salaries by April 1 as part of an accelerated six-month payment schedule. Also included in this group of roughly 20 select players are Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Blake Griffin, among others.

What is also interesting is that the likes of Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell, both of whom signed with Klutch Sports more recently, are not among the ten Klutch players mentioned. Neither is Ben Simmons, who is still technically on his rookie contract (though the same could be said about other players who are listed like Darius Garland and Miles Bridges).

The NBA salary cap and player incomes are already expected to drop because of the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic, and this is yet another negative side effect for the league and the vast majority of their players.

NBA planning players-only ‘NBA 2K’ tournament featuring Kevin Durant, others

Kevin Durant

The NBA may not be able to resume its season in as timely a fashion as it originally hoped, but the league is planning an event that will hopefully give basketball fans something to look forward to.

The NBA is organizing a players-only tournament for the video game “NBA 2K20” that will feature some of the league’s best gamers, including Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell. Sources told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that the 16-player tournament will be broadcast on ESPN and span over 10 days. The goal is for the event to launch on Friday.

Other players taking part in the tournament include DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond. The league is still finalizing the details.

The White House recently extended its social distancing guidelines through April 30, and many states have issued “shelter-in-place” orders as the coronavirus continues to spread. It seems unlikely that the NBA or any other sports league will resume play before June, which is why we have seen leagues exploring other ways to keep fans entertained. A video game tournament is certainly better than nothing.