Rick Barry's theory for Kevin Durant leaving Thunder shines harsh light on Russell Westbrook


Rick Barry's theory for Kevin Durant leaving Thunder shines harsh light on Russell Westbrook

As someone who was drafted by the Warriors, left the team -- and the NBA -- after two seasons to play in the ABA, only to return five years later, Rick Barry is exceedingly familiar with player movement.

So it’s not surprise that, 38 years after he retired, Barry is fully supportive of today’s players determining their career paths.

And in expressing his support for Kevin Durant’s decision two years ago to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors, Barry during a guest appearance on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast offered a theory that shines a harsh light upon Russell Westbrook, Durant’s former teammate in Oklahoma City.

“Kevin Durant is going to become a better basketball player by becoming a Golden State Warrior,” Barry recalled telling people two summers ago. “He’s going to be involved in a system where he’s actually going to have the ball, he’s going to play with a bunch of unselfish players, he’ll get more easy shots than ever before and he’s going to have more fun playing basketball.”

Barry then asked a rhetorical question: Was there a time when Durant routinely posted “seven to eight” assists per game with the Thunder? In his first two seasons with the Warriors, Durant averaged 5.1 assists per game. Over nine seasons in Seattle and OKC, he averaged 3.7.

He spent most of that time sharing court with James Harden and Westbrook.

“They are fantastic players,” Barry said. “The skill and the things they do are unbelievable, and how hard they both play.

“Except I wouldn’t want to be standing around on the wing when my point guard has the ball for 22 seconds and then he can’t get a shot off and he throws it to me with one or two on the clock and I’ve got to throw up a prayer.

“How much fun is that? It’s no fun to watch. And it’s worse to have to be a part of it playing under those circumstances.”

It’s almost as if, to Barry’s way of thinking, Durant owed it to himself to see if there was another franchise with which he could got all the way to the top.

“He gave so much to that other organization,” Barry said, referring to the Sonics/Thunder. “He wanted to be a winner. It wasn’t about money. He was even willing to take less money. He wanted to have a chance to be a champion and he saw the opportunity to go to, without question, the team with the best chance.

“I was so happy for him that he wound up being the (Finals) MVP. And he does it two years in a row. You couldn’t have it scripted better if you were writing a movie.”

Barry played for four different franchises, two in the NBA and two in the ABA, but spent eight of his 14 seasons with the Warriors. He’s the only player in franchise history to average more than 35 points per game in one season, lead them to a championship in another and waltz into the Hall of Fame.

His allegiance is to the Warriors, and he’s thrilled that they’ve added All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

“The one chink in the armor . . . over the last four or five years is they’ve never had a great center,” Barry said. “Now all of a sudden, you’ve got a guy that not only can play center and block shots but also can score in the low post, can score facing up, can shoot the 3-point shot and can handle the ball.”

NBA draft 2019: Updated order after Lakers-Pelicans Anthony Davis trade

NBA draft 2019: Updated order after Lakers-Pelicans Anthony Davis trade

From the moment the 2019 NBA Draft lottery concluded on May 14, it was safe to assume the New Orleans Pelicans would end up acquiring the No. 3 overall pick from the Knicks or the No. 4 overall pick from the Lakers for Anthony Davis.

On Saturday, New Orleans and Los Angeles reportedly agreed to a blockbuster trade centering around the All-Star big man. One of the pieces headed to the Pelicans is indeed the No. 4 overall pick.

The trade hasn't officially been completed, and isn't expected to go through until July 6 at the earliest, but we can still update the NBA Draft order knowing that the player taken by the Lakers on Thursday eventually will end up in New Orleans along with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart.

Also, in case you forgot, the Pelicans own the No. 1 overall pick, which they almsot certainly will use to draft Duke star Zion Williamson.

The Warriors will pick at No. 28 in the first round and No. 58 in the second round. The latest mock drafts have some intriguing options going to Golden State.

As for the Kings, they don't have a first-round pick, but they own the No. 40, No. 47 and No. 60 picks in the second round.

Here's the refreshed 2019 NBA Draft order taking the trade into account:

First round

1. New Orleans
2. Memphis
3. New York
4. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)
5. Cleveland
6. Phoenix
7. Chicago
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. Atlanta (from Dallas)
11. Minnesota
12. Charlotte
13. Miami
14. Boston (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)
15. Detroit
16. Orlando
17. Brooklyn
18. Indiana
19. San Antonio
20. Boston (from LA Clippers via Memphis)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Boston
23. Utah
24. Philadelphia
25. Portland
26. Cleveland (from Houston)
27. Brooklyn (from Denver)
28. Golden State
29. San Antonio (from Toronto)
30. Milwaukee

Second round

31. Brooklyn (from New York via Philadelphia)
32. Phoenix
33. Philadelphia (from Cleveland via Orlando and New York)
34. Philadelphia (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers)
35. Atlanta
36. Charlotte (from Washington via Orlando, Denver and Atlanta)
37. Dallas
38. Chicago (from Memphis)
39. New Orleans
40. Sacramento (from Minnesota via Portland and Cleveland)
41. Atlanta (from Los Angeles Lakers via Cleveland and Indiana)
42. Philadelphia (from Sacramento via Brooklyn and Milwaukee)
43. Minnesota (from Miami via Charlotte)
44. Atlanta (from Charlotte)
45. Detroit
46. Orlando (from Brooklyn via Memphis and Charlotte)
47. Sacramento (from Orlando via New York)
48. LA Clippers
49. San Antonio
50. Indiana
51. Boston
52. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City)
53. Utah
54. Philadelphia
55. New York (from Houston)
56. LA Clippers (from Portland via Detroit and Orlando)
57. New Orleans (from Denver via Milwaukee)
58. Golden State
59. Toronto
60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee)

NBA rumors: Anthony Davis trade timing could hinder Lakers free agency plans

NBA rumors: Anthony Davis trade timing could hinder Lakers free agency plans

Lakers fans everywhere are excited by the agreed upon Anthony Davis trade with the Pelicans.

Initial reporting on Saturday speculated that Los Angeles would still have between $27 and $32 million in cap space remaining, enough to bring in another marquee player through free agency.

But new information coming out Sunday paints a slightly bleaker picture for the Lakers.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the trade won't be executed until July 6.

Davis also has a 15 percent trade kicker that equates to $4 million. He could waive the trade kicker to help the Lakers, but Wojnarowski doesn't see that happening.

With that in mind, the Lakers' cap space would decrease from just over $27 million to just over $23 million.

But there's more.

By completing the trade on July 6, the player the Lakers draft with the No. 4 overall pick next Thursday wouldn't count towards their salary. But if the Lakers were to tell the Pelicans 'Hey, let's wait until July 30 to execute the trade,' Los Angeles could free up salary-cap space because the No. 4 pick would be on the books.

Wojnarowski believes there's a chance the teams wait until July 30, but for now, he expects the blockbuster trade to go through on July 6.

[RELATED: Lakers need more than Davis]

If that's the case, the Lakers will have less cap space than they had hoped. That would be welcome news for the Warriors and Kings, who are watching their Pacific Division rival retool their roster in a big way.

If the Lakers aren't able to add a marquee free agent alongside Davis and LeBron James, they won't be as daunting.