Morning shootaround — May 1


VIDEO: Highlights from games played April 29

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Durant happy with Donovan hiringReport: Lillard seeking max extension | Ainge readies his free-agency wish list

No. 1: Durant happy with Donovan hire — Oklahoma City officially hired former Florida coach Billy Donovan as its new coach yesterday. Donovan has a five-year deal and will be tasked with improving on the already solid foundation of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. that his predecessor, Scott Brooks, grew into an NBA title contender (when healthy). According to some reports, the Thunder’s brass didn’t consult Durant or Westbrook about the Donovan hiring, but in an interview with ESPN.com’s Royce Young, Durant says he’s glad OKC hired Donovan and he’s looking forward to working with him:

Kevin Durant said Thursday he’s “excited” about the Thunder hiring Billy Donovan as their next coach and dismissed any notion that Donovan’s lack of NBA experience is a concern.

“When you don’t have a coach, it’s a lot of uncertainty in the building,” Durant said by phone. “But coming into the practice facility today, I felt like it was a next step for us. It was an exciting feeling for everybody that was there at the gym today to learn that we got Billy as our coach. We’re excited, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Donovan — while one of the most successful college coaches of the past 20 years, with more than 500 wins and two national championships — enters the NBA as a rookie head coach in a pressure-packed season for the Thunder.

“I wouldn’t say it matters,” Durant said of Donovan’s perceived lack of experience. “If you know how to coach a team, that’s all that matters. He’s been at one of the highest levels of basketball and won a title. That’s tough to do.

“So you can’t just downplay what he’s done in the college ranks and just automatically say he’s not going to be great in the pros. He produced a lot of pros, and they all love him.

“The only thing that will be different, to be honest, is just the schedule and the amount of practice time you may have and the travel. But other than that, I think he’ll adapt pretty quickly.”

Durant currently is in Oklahoma City going through his rehab process following a third surgery on his right foot and said he looks forward to getting to know his new coach.

Although not directly consulted on the hiring of Donovan, Durant was very aware of the process and in favor of the move. He did his own homework, consulting some of Donovan’s former players, which helped paint a clearer picture of what to expect.

“I reached out to Chandler Parsons and Mike Miller, and they just told me great things,” Durant said. “Mike told me that he’s real detailed and prepared. Every day is just another day for him to get better. And he’s always looking to learn. I was excited when I heard that because that’s the type of player I am, and I’m looking forward to learning from somebody else. It should be a good relationship. Like I said, I want to get a feel for him myself and for him to get a feel for me and just work from there.”

“It’s going to take some time,” he said. “I think just for him over the summer is big for him to get to know more guys. Obviously he’s watched us before and knows what our strengths and weaknesses are as players.

“But I know he’s going to do a good job because from what I’ve heard he works extremely hard, his attention to detail is one of the best and everybody’s been telling me he’s an NBA coach coaching in college. So I’m excited. I’m very excited to learn from him and get better from him and try my best to do whatever he tells me to do. I can’t wait to get started.”


VIDEO: What challenges will Billy Donovan face as an NBA coach?

***

No. 2: Report: Lillard to seek max extension this offseason — We pointed out in this space yesterday that the Portland Trail Blazers have to figure out what kind of future lies ahead for them and unrestricted free agent forward LaMarcus Aldridge. While they navigate that issue, it appears the other pillar of the franchise — All-Star guard Damian Lillard — wants to stick around a while. Shams Charania of RealGM.com reports Lillard is seeking a maximum contract extension this summer from Portland:

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will seek the designated player maximum contract – a full five-year deal – in a possible extension this upcoming offseason, league sources told RealGM.

The Blazers will address the immediate futures of LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews when the July free agency begins, but the franchise is also expected to start talks on a new deal with Lillard this summer.

Lillard, sources said, has no plans to consider signing an extension less than the designated max – nor would the two-time NBA All-Star and 2013 Rookie of the Year be financially inclined to do so given 2016’s rising free agency market, when upward of 20 teams could extend $20 million-plus offer sheets to Lillard.

In his exit interview Thursday, Lillard told reporters he’s confident in extension talks with the Blazers, which could reach a possible $90 million-plus. Discussions can’t start until July,  and the Blazers have long shown faith in the sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft.

 


VIDEO: Damian Lillard reflects on his 2014-15 season

***

No. 3: Ainge already making his free agency wish list — The Boston Celtics more or less exceeded every expectation for 2014-15 with their (albeit short) playoff run. With a stockade of first-round picks and cap room to spare this summer, where do they go from here. Celtics president Danny Ainge has clear goals in mind for the offseason and opened up about them in his end-of-season news conference. Jay King of MassLive.com has more:

During an end-of-season press conference Thursday, Ainge detailed an aggressive approach to free agency. While he cautioned that the Celtics will not be reckless with their spending, he outlined a strong desire to improve the current team, which bowed out of the playoffs this past weekend.

“We’re going to go after any and everybody that we think is a significant player to upgrade our talent,” Ainge said. “And when I say upgrade our talent, like, you’ve gotta be pretty good to upgrade our talent because we have good players. So we’re going after all the top names on the list. And we’ll see what happens.”

With four picks in the upcoming draft, many more in the coming years, and at least approximately $20 million of cap space, Ainge will have the flexibility to target big stars. But he knows many of the biggest names on the market are likely to stay put, and, sources have told MassLive.com, will be prepared to target second-tier free agents if necessary.

“We often talk about transcendent players and stars, but I think the hardest skill to find in our league is guys that can score in the fourth quarter,” he said. “The last six minutes of the game type scorers. Offensive creators. Usually the offensive patterns don’t score baskets at that time. Usually it’s individuals and talent. And I think that that’s always a priority. Regardless of need by position, those kind of players are hard to find.”

“We need to get our message out, and we need to sell our franchise, and sell our coach, and sell our organization, and the opportunity for players to come in and play,” Ainge said.

“Some players will like it and some won’t. It’s that simple. Some players, like I said earlier, will choose sunshine over cold. But ultimately, most players want to be paid, they want an opportunity to play their game and be respected by the league, and they want an opportunity to win.”


VIDEO: Danny Ainge details some of the Celtics’ offseason plans

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Digging deep into the stats from Game 6 of Bulls-Bucks and Game 6 of Spurs-Clippers … A fantastic insider’s look at why Billy Donovan is in the NBA by Adrian Wojnarowski … The Trail Blazers plan to be aggressive in free agencyEvan Turner is really grateful he got a chance to play for the Boston CelticsHas the current cast of the Toronto Raptors peaked? … The Milwaukee Bucks’ season is over. Was their success for real or done with smoke and mirrors? … The New York Knicks might be willing to trade their lottery pick for the right deal

ICYMI of the Night: Even though the Bucks would eventually end up losing Game 6 by 54 points, it didn’t stop Miles Plumlee from hustling …  


VIDEO: Miles Plumlee gets up to deny Taj Gibson’s dunk attempt with authority

 

23 Comments

  1. BAR says:

    Lillard had to talk himself into being an all star and is now talking about wanting max contract. He is a great player but why is he not talking about doing what is best for him AND for his team.

  2. J says:

    Now all of a sudden Danny Ainge bashers a year ago will “Soooo this is what he was trying to do”. He’s the one who brought Boston it’s last ring after 26 years, the guy knows what he’s doing. Keep the faith C’s

  3. harriethehawk says:

    Let’s Go Hawks!!!!!

  4. dustydreamnz says:

    1. Durant is a great guy, think he’d get on with almost anyone. So positive and modest.
    2. Lillard is brilliant on his day but not consistent enough yet to be a top 5 PG in the league.
    3. Not sure why Danny Ainge gets a lot of stick, I think he’s doing a great job.

  5. Don says:

    Bulls vs Cavs.

    Who wins?

  6. James Harden says:

    im happy for my boys durant and westbrook on the new hire. good thing they didnt offer me max because im Rocketing to the finals with me in command!

  7. Gametime says:

    Lillard has regressed some since the 1st half of the season. He has the potential, but isn’t a max deal guy to me.

  8. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Clippers have a great chance to bounce the Spurs, Lets go Clippers, i want to see some new teams play for the title. Lillard is not a max player, but with the new league TV deal set to kick in 2016, he will get paid like one.

  9. drago says:

    Damian Lillard is top a 5 point guard in the NBA he is worth the money and i believe he could be number one in his prime.LaMarcus Aldridge is a strange mix for me cause he tends to fall in love with his jump shoot and he is no Dirk Nowitzki I can’t get a good read on his real value.Boston is in a good position with all those picks but i would not recommend blowing those on trades when you can just draft good talent a brew the next superstar in house no superstar is going to leave their team unless they are exploding like the Knicks .

  10. Rhedz03 says:

    Offering a max deal for lillard will pay off in the long run…He is young, talented and hard working player. If portland can keep aldridge, matthews and afflalo then all will be good…

    They canNate robinson as a back up point guard shooting guard..then either keep kaman or R.Lopez and sign Mcgee as back up center would be cool.

    • Pacman says:

      Hahaha! Top 5 point guard? Lillard?
      1 Curry
      2 Kyrie
      3 Chris Paul
      4 Westbrook
      5 John wall
      6 Tony Parker
      7 Mike Conley (yes! He’s a top point guard)
      8 D rose ( half healthy)
      9 and then your Lillard

      • dd def says:

        you really have kyrie above lillard? explain yourself? and no, flashy moves don’t count for this.

  11. ImMe says:

    Blazers need to keep the core of Wes Aldridge n Lillard.. Even Rollo n Batum are very decent role players! Just need to stay healthy to be contenders.. They had a good team this year.

  12. OKC says:

    Great news for OKC. If Durant is happy, OKC is happy.

  13. Keven carter says:

    Excited to see what’s going to happen to the thunder next season

  14. lbj says:

    Well, if the Blazers learned anything this playoffs, it’s that you they can’t always count on Lillard to be “video game Dame”.

    The Blazers need a quality supporting cast. How the heck would they get that if they max Lillard out?

    • dd def says:

      we have a quality supporting cast but this postseason over half the team was hurt. we didn’t have back-to-back 50+ win seasons solely because of dame. also, if you watched the series against memphis, you saw CJ and Leonard prove that they’re something to watch going forward as big support.

  15. Dunkmycat7 says:

    Man I would LOVE to have Danny Ainge as our GM here in Toronto.
    Win at any cost ready to do whatever it takes to make his team better.
    Rather than , you know what Masai does.
    NOTHING .totally asleep at the wheel. totally missed how flawed his team is. totally pooched the deadline. thinks DC is a good coach.
    How DO these people who see NOTHING get to be who they are ?

  16. teddyd826 says:

    Great article. Maxing Lillard out now is the best business move the Blazers can make. I may be wrong, but if they wait to do so, the cap goes up in 2016. The move makes even more sense if they can hang onto Aldridge too.

    • femi says:

      ehhh idk….i have my reservations about lillard.

      • dd def says:

        everyone does. that’s ok. i think because of how he came out into the league swinging people forget that he’s only played 3 seasons. the ceiling hasn’t been seen yet let alone reached.