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What's not to like about Kevin Durant's humble, non-superstar approach to free agency?

What's not to like about Kevin Durant's humble, non-superstar approach to free agency?

The NBA free-agent courting process is a lot like colleges rolling out the red carpet for recruits. It’s rather embarrassing the way the Houston Rockets publicly fawned over Carmelo Anthony, the Chicago Bulls wasted their time in multiple meetings with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and how the L.A. Lakers humiliated themselves trying to keep Dwight Howard.

All of these situations have something in common. They failed. The bells and whistles might work with teenagers who’ve never been on a plane, but not grown men who have been everywhere and seen everything in the NBA. They require what the open market says their skillset is worth and usually not a penny less, a place that they can see themselves calling home and a chance to compete for championships.

Nothing is wrong with those demands. Thankfully, Kevin Durant’s ego won’t require this sort of placation when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer despite earlier a reports of him wanting to be courted like James who ended up with the Miami Heat with Wade and Bosh after that circus.

“I never said that. That’s not who I am,” Durant said during exit interviews Wednesday, less than 48 hours after his Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated in seven games from the West finals. “Whatever this thing entails, I’m willing to take it head on. But I’m not that type of person. The two most important things for me is being around great people and having fun playing basketball. All of that other stuff that comes with it, being who I am and being in this position is not really for me and not what I’m concerned with.”

For the Wizards, this is a good thing because they should be able to quickly pivot to Plan B. They should learn early on in the process if they're out of the sweepstakes for Durant, who wouldn't provide specifics Wednesday because he said he hadn't given it much thought with his team one game from another NBA Finals appearance. That's more than understandable. 

Would he consult teammate Russell Westbrook? It didn't sound like it. Would he consider a shorter deal (two years with a player option) to stay in Oklahoma City and wait until next summer to make a decision when Westbrook and Serge Ibaka also are free agents? Not necessarily. 

There's a lot to appeciate about the 27-year-old, nine-year NBA vet. Despite being a 2013-14 MVP and a multi-time scoring champion, Durant has had his fill of attention. He doesn't need to manufcature more of it. 

Most players know where their heart or ambitions rest. They know if they're committed to a place, such as Anthony to New York City, long before the appearance of suitors who'll ultimately be left with the bill with nothing to show for their efforts. High school basketball players have taken recruiting visits to places they have no intention of going, such as the University of Miami, because it's a paid vacation. 

If Durant chooses to leave Oklahoma City, rest assured he'll pen an open letter, take out a full-page newspaper ad and maybe thank the residents with a billboard of some sort. He might even continue to hold camps and give to charitable causes to support a small market that always has supported him.

He doesn't expect to drag it out. Durant is expected to be the top free agent on the market and every team with cap room for a max player wants to make their pitch to him.

He wants to get it over with and move on, and least everyone's dignity should still be intact.


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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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