Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson can't believe Kevin Durant was unhappy with Warriors

Magic Johnson can't believe Kevin Durant was unhappy with Warriors

Kevin Durant came to the Warriors in 2016 in pursuit of a family and NBA titles.

Despite all the winning the Warriors did with Durant, he told the Wall Street Journal last week that he never quite felt like one of the guys. That possibly had something to do with him refusing to commit long term to the Warriors. It's hard for a family to accept you when you have one foot in the house and the other on the front porch.

NBA legend Magic Johnson can't begin to fathom Durant's logic in leaving for the Brooklyn Nets after three seasons and two championships in the Bay.

"KD, I hope that he finds happiness," Johnson said Friday on ESPN's First Take. "If you can't find happiness at Golden State, where are you going to find it at?

“First of all, give Steph Curry a lot of credit for saying, 'I'm a two-time MVP. I'm willing to take a backseat because I want to win.' Give Klay Thompson a lot of credit, because you know whose game suffered the most? Klay Thompson. He used to get a lot more touches before KD got there, and he said, 'I'm OK with that as long as we win a championship.' Draymond Green, even he had to take a backseat.

"So, Kevin, if you won back-to-back titles, you won MVP of the Finals as well, where are you going to find happiness at? I just want him to find happiness because when I look at Michael Jordan, when I look at Kobe Bryant, this brother, Kevin Durant, is one of the greatest scorers we've seen in NBA history, so I just want him to be happy. I just don't know where he's going to find it at if he can't find it at Golden State."

We imagine every single Warriors fan feels the same way as Magic does.

[RELATED: Durant shows no sign of limp after surgery]

Unlike Thunder fans, Warriors fans don't hold any ill will toward Durant. They're just puzzled by his decision to leave. He had everything he wanted in the Bay Area, and Golden State could have offered more money. Yet he still decided to leave.

But maybe Durant never will be happy in the same spot for too long. It's possible that in three years, Nets fans find themselves wondering why Durant wasn't happy, just like Warriors fans are right now.

Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't stop players from recruiting

Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't stop players from recruiting

The NBA is a players' league. 

For nearly a decade, the league at large has been trying to curtail that notion. In the latest effort, the NBA has proposed new rules, including a fine of $10 million for teams caught tampering with potential free agents, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN. 

The proposal comes two months after $1.4 billion in contract terms were agreed to 90 minutes into free agency, all but proving teams and players had agreements prior to the June 30 moratorium period. Such players included Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who were reported to have agreed to terms with the Brooklyn Nets hours before free agency period began. 

Nine years ago, LeBron James sat in the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. and -- with the sports world in the palm of his hand -- announced his intention to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, marking the biggest shift to player empowerment since Curt Flood fought for MLB free agency in the 1970s. The move opened the door for players to determine their own futures on a level not seen, to the point that even the league's newest overtures won't help. 

The NBA's latest attempt to stifle player movement is wide-ranging. According to the memo obtained by ESPN, the proposal includes prohibiting players from influencing other players to request trades and random audits on teams to "assess compliance." Additionally, a requirement would be put in place that requires teams to report any instance of a player or representative asking for extra benefits within 24 hours. 

The NBA's newest proposal is in response largely to the recent open recruiting of free agents from former Lakers executive Magic Johnson. In 2017, Johnson alluded to his recruitment of upcoming free agent Paul George during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Paul, then a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was considering the Lakers in free agency. Though rules forbid Magic to openly recruit George, he did so anyway. 

“We going to say hi because we know each other, you just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’" Johnson said. "Even though I’ll be wink-winking like, ‘You know what that means, right?’”

Johnson was fined a league-record $500,000 and George signed with the Thunder. Though the league's proposal is aimed at curtailing further actions like Johnson's, it does little to help with player-on-player recruitment. Thirteen years ago -- during the 2006 World Championships -- Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, each a member of a different team, openly pondered the idea of playing together. Each signed short-term deals with their teams to become free agents in 2010, subsequently signing with the Heat in free agency. 

Will the new rules actually prohibit players from doing it again? Probably not. 

No rules are going to stop a player's will under the current landscape. Take Kevin Durant's free agency this summer. Before signing, Durant hadn't met with any executive nor toured any of the Brooklyn Nets facilities, but said he wanted to sign regardless. 

[RELATED: Durant still searching for what slipped from time with Warriors]

The biggest proposal would be for teams to self-report any agent asking for extra benefits. Not sure that could work, considering teams would run the risk of turning off top-flight talent by outing a player's inner circle. 

The NBA is now a player's league, thanks to LeBron James, and even with the current set of rules in place, it doesn't seem like that power struggle will be changing anytime soon. 

Adding D'Angelo Russell was best Warriors could do with Kevin Durant gone

Adding D'Angelo Russell was best Warriors could do with Kevin Durant gone

The Warriors entered Sunday with the overwhelming possibility that Kevin Durant -- the crown jewel of their free-agent pursuits -- would leave the Bay.

When that possibility became reality, the team acted quickly, reportedly acquiring Nets guard D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal after Durant had announced his intention to join Brooklyn.

For six months, the Warriors had grappled with the prospect of losing Durant. Six hours after he did, they had perhaps the best possible consolation prize.

Russell -- who reportedly agreed to a four-year, $117 million max contract in the deal -- averaged 21.1 points and seven assists in 81 games last season, as he made his first NBA All-Star team. His performance also earned him the right to negotiate a max deal with the Nets, but with the team pursuing a Durant-Kyrie Irving partnership, Russell's days in Brooklyn seemed to be numbered. And they were after Durant and Irving both chose the Nets.

Russell joins the Warriors as they find themselves at a crossroads. Three weeks before the sign-and-trade, Klay Thompson tore his ACL, prompting a rehabilitation that could extend to next March. With most of Thompson's season shelved and Durant now gone to the East, the Warriors are left to figure out how to make up the 47 points per game the two combined to provide. Additionally, the Warriors were forced to trade Andre Iguodala -- a pillar of Golden State's championship dynasty -- to the Memphis Grizzlies to help absorb Russell's salary.

Worse, with the Warriors currently just $18.2 million below the league's hard cap, according to salary-cap expert Nate Duncan, and nine roster spots left to fill, they'll have trouble rounding out their team.

For Russell, this is the next phase of his career: temporary co-star to Stephen Curry. With Thompson out for much of the season, and the remainder of the Warriors' roster uncertain, Russell must assume a sizable slice of the offensive burden.

It's just the latest chapter in the Russell reclamation project. Three years ago, while with the Lakers, he recorded a video of teammate Nick Young admitting infidelity. The following season, despite Russell averaging 15 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, then-Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson opted to trade the guard to Brooklyn, citing maturity concerns.

[RELATED: What Steph said about Russell in 2016

In just two years, Russell has shed the ills of those first two seasons, averaging 19 points, 6.3 assists and nearly four rebounds, and helping the Nets advance the playoffs last season.

On the first morning of free agency, the Warriors faced prospect of a life without Durant on their roster. By the end of the night, Durant was gone, but the Warriors regrouped and took perhaps the best option available.