Warriors

Kevin Durant as Seattle's savior would bring his PNW presence full circle

Kevin Durant as Seattle's savior would bring his PNW presence full circle

Kevin Durant’s next team has finally been identified, and helpfully for everyone, it was by Durant himself.

It’s the New Seattle SuperSonics, and he wants to be the guy to do it, or something a lot like it.

And maybe, if we’re going to fantasize stridently enough while ignoring NBA rules and regulations as well as construction timetables and the constraints of the human body, while he still has some value as a player.

Okay, never mind that last part. But the rest of it sounds perfectly delicious if you happen to be Kevin Durant, and fascinating even if you’re not.

In the wake of Seattle being colonized by the National Hockey League to begin operations in 2021-22, and minutes after the Golden State Warriors earblocked the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-105 (Durant, 25/10/9 in 34 minutes), Durant was asked about the NBA potentially returning to the place that spawned his own professional career, and whether he’d want a piece of that action.

“Hell yeah, of course I would,” Durant told ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “No matter if it's Seattle or any team, just to help young men grow, or help men in the next phase of their lives as basketball players. Why not? Especially somebody who's gone through it and been through just about everything as an NBA player, outside of getting traded, I've been through pretty much everything. I would love to give back to an organization, the knowledge that I've gained. So hell yeah I'd be interested.”

[RELATED: Durant sympathizes with Seattle fans]

Okay, but the NBA has no plans for immediate expansion, none of the seemingly vulnerable franchises seem eager to sell while the league is churning money like all the ATMs on earth on crank. Memphis and New Orleans are most often mentioned for relocation, but neither Robert Pera nor Gayle Benson has said anything other than they want to keep their teams where they are.

Still, if Durant wants to become a franchise operator or even just a well-moneyed face, why wouldn’t he want Seattle? Or to give it the correct phrasing, why would he want anything BUT Seattle? I mean, it would be new, it would have no troublesome recent history to overcome, and he would own his own town, for God’s sake. His own freaking major metropolitan city.

But here Durant plays coy.

“It's just the fact that I played there and I get so much love there,” he said. “More than any city in the league probably. Look, it would be a great story, but it would be a lot of hard work. It won’t be easy because it's Seattle. After the press release and the first couple of weeks, it’s straight to work. I know people want to tie me into Seattle a lot, and I love being part of that, but I'm not just waiting for that opportunity. Any opportunity that comes around where I could become (part of) an ownership group or a front office or anywhere I could just help the team as of right now in my life I would go for it, but who knows what will happen at the end of my career?"

In truth, that’s probably how he would get in, but Seattle is still the most fertile ground for his desires. The excitement of a hockey team, owned by billionaires Jerry Bruckheimer (television and movie entrepreneur) and David Bonderman (investment banker), has Seattle energized in ways that it wasn’t even when the Sonics left for Oklahoma City 10 years ago.

(And while we’re at it, a Hollywood player and a financier – what ownership group does that remind you of?)

With expansion at least five years off by most estimates and with Seattle probably needing a new arena for the basketball team while the hockey team is going to play in a revamped Key Arena, whatever dream Durant has would be delayed until after he was done playing. This would undermine at least one part of the grand illusion.

Still, the idea of Durant as a savior redux in Seattle would bring his presence in the Pacific Northwest full circle, and who doesn’t like narratives to end so neatly? All it would take is some more civic will, a place to build an arena that won’t totally screw the public, and about $4 billion to cover franchise acquisition and construction costs.

Clearly, there are still a few billionaires who’d want a taste of this play, and Durant, though not a billionaire himself, could certainly throw in a few tens of millions of earnest money so he could sit close to the head of the table.

All to be both an entrepreneur and the King of Washington . . . the good Washington. Frankly, neither nor anyone else could afford to pass this up.

But that’s what Chris Hansen said when he thought he was going to get the Sacramento Kings five years ago. If only he’d have been Kevin Durant.

Breaking down Warriors stars' numbers before, after All-Star break

Breaking down Warriors stars' numbers before, after All-Star break

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
 
The 25-game run to the finish line starts tonight, as the Warriors come out of the All-Star break playing the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena. A Warriors-Kings matchup as the 1-seed versus 8-seed to start the playoffs would be a lot of fun, as both teams play at a fast pace, move in transition, and fire from deep.

But before we start projecting potential 8-seed matchups, the Warriors need to finish off the rest of the season strong to secure the top spot in the West.
 
Since Steve Kerr took over the Warriors, this is how the team has finished the season after the All-Star break:

2017-18: 14-10 
2016-17: 20-6 
2015-16: 25-5 
2014-15: 25-6
 
Last season, the Warriors struggled down the stretch, as many of their key players got hurt and the team's depth was put to the test. In order to avoid any chances of mass injuries this season, you can expect the Warriors to rest their stars on and off throughout the final 25 games.

Based on career numbers following the All-Star break however, you can bet there are some players that would love to play every single game. Since numbers do not tell the whole story, let's take a look at players that perform better and worse in their careers after the break, and gauge what to expect this season.

Steph Curry

Pre: 47.6% FG... 42.7% 3-Pt... 23.2 Pts...4.4 Reb...6.6 Asts 
Post: 48.4% FG... 45.9 % 3-Pt...24.1 Pts...4.6 Reb...6.9 Asts
 
Steph is the one player on the Warriors whose numbers improve across the board after the All-Star break. He has consistently proven to be a late-season closer, finding his rhythm from deep as the year goes along.  I expect this season to be no different.

For his lofty standards, Curry struggled with his three-point shot in the last few weeks, so the break came at the right time. Yes, he had quite a busy and probably exhausting "break," playing the de facto host of All-Star weekend in his hometown of Charlotte, but being busy is nothing new to Curry.  

This season, he is shooting a gaudy 44 percent from deep and nearly 49 percent from the field. I would not be surprised if he lights up the box scores over the next two months to approach a 50-45-90 final line.

Draymond Green

Pre: 43.4% FG... 31.9% 3-Pt
Post: 44.5% FG... 32.5% 3-Pt
 
I was surprised when I saw that Draymond's career shooting totals got better throughout the season. I assumed that he would have spent so much energy on defense that his legs might be a little heavy down the stretch. But if you look at the last couple seasons in particular, it seems as if Draymond plays himself into shape as the season goes along, improving his conditioning and raising his play.

His three-point percentage is what most opposing teams pay attention to, since they most likely will strategize a defensive scheme in which they sag off of Green and dare him to shoot. But to the Warriors staff, the rise of his shooting percentages post-break is just a luxury.

Instead, they focus on his elite defense, and I expect him to make a very concerted effort to try to open enough eyes to get a shot at Defensive Player of the Year.

Andre Iguodala

Pre: 45.9% FG ...32.8% 3-Pt
Post:  47.7% FG... 34.8% 3-Pt
 
These numbers were definitely not a surprise. Iguodala has shown throughout his Warriors career that he saves his best for last. For example, last season after the All-Star break, Iguodala shot over 41 percent from deep.

And yet, despite the career numbers, I would not be surprised if Iguodala reigned in his play a little bit over the final 25 games in order to rest his legs for the playoffs. He has played exceptional basketball off the bench so far this regular season, exerting maximum effort and resting less than many would expect for the 35-year-old wing.

The big question is whether or not his relentless first-half play will catch up with him later in the season. The Warriors will not want to find out, so I expect them to give him at least a handful of games to rest up his legs in order to regain his annual "Playoff Iguodala" form. 

Kevin Durant

Pre: 49.8% FG...  38.4% 3-Pt
Post: 47.8% FG... 37.8% 3-Pt
 
Kevin Durant is such an amazingly consistent basketball player, I did not necessarily expect to find much change in his career percentages pre and post-break. But then again, Durant plays so hard and so many minutes throughout the season, it makes sense that his numbers would decline a little.

Durant's three-point shot has been inconsistent this whole season, so it is hard to project how it will fare after the break. But one thing is certain: the Warriors will be cautious about overextending him these last two months of the regular season.

Durant has played in every game for the team, shouldering the load early on when Curry and Green were out, and carrying the team as best he could. The Warriors recognize the need to give Durant some time to rest his legs as he prepares to give his best yet again when the playoffs arrive.

Over the last two playoffs with the Warriors, Durant has shot over 51 percent from the field and nearly 38 percent from three. They will need that same Durant if they plan to make a run at another title. 

[RELATED: Durant gets 'bragging rights' for winning All-Star MVP

Klay Thompson

Pre: 46.2% FG
Post: 45.4% FG
 
Klay Thompson's career numbers pre and post-All-Star break are for the most part consistent, with a slight decline in overall shooting percentage. But I'm not going to even pretend to know what Klay is going to do the rest of this season. He has had the most roller coaster type year so far, going through uncharacteristically long shooting slumps, followed by streaks of awe-inspiring shot making.

Over the last 20 games before the break, Klay shot over 53 percent from the field and nearly 51 percent from deep. Can he keep up these garish numbers for the rest of the season?

Highly doubtful considering he has played in all but one game and is sure to experience a little fatigue. Or maybe not.

After all, it is Klay Thompson and perhaps he will put his career post-break dip "in the past like a ponytail."

[RELATED: Klay gets taste of how opponents feel guarding Steph Curry]

DeMarcus Cousins

Pre: 34.4% 3-Pt
Post: 30.4% 3-Pt
 
In his career, it is clear that Cousins loses a little bit of his legs as his three-point shot falls off considerably as the season goes along. Good news for the Warriors, however, is that Boogie will practically be playing what essentially is the first half of a season the rest of the way.

Expect the team to increase his minutes over the next two months, pushing his conditioning to reach a playoff-ready level. Cousins may be the one star on the team that does not receive much rest and instead is given the green light to go harder.

His shot has been inconsistent so far in his return, so the team will focus on getting his rhythm, timing and legs back, just in time for a run at a third straight championship.

DeMarcus Cousins rips NCAA after Zion Williamson injury: 'It's bulls**t'

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USATSI

DeMarcus Cousins rips NCAA after Zion Williamson injury: 'It's bulls**t'

OAKLAND – At the mere mention of the scary, shoe-splitting spill Wednesday by prize NBA prospect Zion Williamson, Warriors star DeMarcus Cousins came out swinging.

“Knowing what I know now, college (basketball) is bulls**t,” he said Thursday. “College basketball and the NCAA is bulls**t.”

Projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson is four months away from life-changing wealth. When the Duke star sustained a sprained knee in a game against North Carolina, jeopardizing his value, NBA players lit up the Internet with their feelings about a multibillion-dollar business that offers zero monetary benefit to players.

“My advice to him is do what’s best for you and your family,” Cousins said. “Obviously, college isn’t. It does nothing for you at this point. You’ve proven you’re the No. 1 pick coming out, you’ve proven your talent. Get ready for the next level because it’s happening.

“That’s my opinion, knowing what I know now.”

Cousins spent one season at Kentucky before being selected fifth overall by Sacramento in the 2010 draft. He said he “enjoyed” his time in college but acknowledges the risks involved along the path to the NBA,

“I loved my experience in college. That was some of the best years of my life, playing basketball,” Cousins said. “But with that being said, just how crooked the whole NCAA business is . . . 

“I actually saw a post the other day that said the (lowest ticket) for that UNC-Duke came was $2500, $3500. How much does Zion Williamson see? That’s who (fans) are coming to see. So much of that is he getting? Actually, who does it go to? How does it benefit any player on that team?

“But if they were to get $20 and a free meal, they’re this bad kid. They get a bad rep, ‘uncoachable or ‘thugs,’ whatever the case may be. It’s bulls**t. It’s been bulls**t.”

[RELATED: Steve Kerr explains how DeMarcus Cousins was 'pain in the a**' to Warriors]

Cousins is also among the vast majority of NBA players that don’t understand the point of the “one-and-done" rule designed to force preps to attend college for at least one year before entering the draft.

“What’s the difference between 18 (years old) and 19? Between 17 and 18? You’re an amateur. You’re young. You’re ignorant to life in general. So what’s really the difference? You’ve still got a lot of growing to do.”