VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 18
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Durant closing in on return to lineup — Oklahoma City Thunder star forward Kevin Durant hasn’t played in the last four games, but OKC has held down the fort pretty well in his absence. They are 2-2 in that stretch after last night’s win against the New Orleans Pelicans and may not have much longer to go until Durant returns to the fold. The Oklahoman‘s Erik Horne has more:
Kevin Durant looks like he’s getting closer to making a return to the court with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A week after he was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain, Durant was seen after Thunder practice Wednesday taking some jump shots and showing more mobility than the last time we saw him on the practice court late last week. Last week, Durant was only seen taking a few set shots, but on Wednesday, he went through a series of drills with assistant coaches Monty Williams and Royal Ivey.
In addition to jumpers, Durant also went through a drill with Ivey and Williams in which he had to beat the double team while dribbling from halfcourt then pull up for a 3-pointer in transition. Williams and Ivey also did some light jogging with Durant the length of the court.
“I hadn’t really talked to anybody medically about him,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I think he’s doing more than certainly he was a week ago. How close he is to being able to return, I’m not really sure; I haven’t been updated on that, but I know that he’s doing more physically just me watching and seeing what’s happened over the last week.”
The Thunder initially said last Wednesday that Durant would be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days following the MRI on his strained hamstring.
“Looking good,” Anthony Morrow said of Durant. “Looks like Kevin Durant.
“I think that our staff is doing a good job with him. He’s doing a great job of being patient. I’m glad to see him getting up shots, taking it one day at a time. One thing he’s doing is really staying in guys’ ear, even from the sideline when he’s out. To me, that’s a sign of growth and leadership. He’s doing that even more so than last year.”
Durant’s return could come in the next two games. The Thunder plays the New York Knicks on Friday and the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, both at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
VIDEO: Russell Westbrook discusses OKC’s win against New Orleans
No. 2: Nash lavishes praise upon Curry’s start to season — Many are trying to put the type of work reigning Kia MVP Stephen Curry has put in between last season and this one into context. That’s not an easy task to pull off and few have succeeded at it. Maybe a former MVP — such as two-time winner Steve Nash — could do so? Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group chatted with Nash for a long piece he is working on about Curry and the current Warriors consultant Nash had nothing but positives to say about his new pupil:
Q: What kinds of things do you discuss with Steph when you’ve been with the team?
NASH: The things I discuss with Steph are more about thinking, reading, reacting… about understanding situations.
As far as when I’m watching his dribbling, his body mechanics, his skill level, his efficiency… that’s just off the charts. It’s beautiful to watch.
I don’t have anything to say as far as technique. Strategy, maybe I can add something.
But you’re talking about the best player in the game.
Well, LeBron may be the best player in the game, but Steph is going to maybe another level this year.
As I said, he’s a unique figure in the history of the game.
Q: Is it fair to say that Curry is becoming maybe one of the top 10 players of all-time? Can we say that?
NASH: I don’t have a problem with it. To me, growing up, my hero, other than Michael Jordan, was Isiah Thomas.
But in some ways I wish I was a 13 year old starting to play basketball for the first time so I could grow up watching him play and emulating him. That’d be pretty powerful.
You know, I hope my son likes basketball. (Matteo is five.)
Q: So Curry could be a transformative figure maybe the way Bird and Magic brought in that level of passing, then Jordan with above the rim, then maybe you and Jason Kidd with a different kind of point-guard play? Do you see this happening now?
NASH: It’s the evolution of the game. We’re seeing someone… I hate to put myself in this statement, but he’s taken what I did to another level.
I mean, the ability to find openings, to shoot going right or left, off one leg, either side of the rim, with the range, the variety… he’s doing things I never did.
The game’s evolving… and it’s a beautiful thing because it’s about skill and dedication, commitment and inspiring a whole generation.
It’s awesome to see. And think it’ll be fascinating to see what the next evolution will be because of Steph.
Q: Should they go for 70 wins if they’re close? 73? Would it be good for this team to have a goal like that?
NASH: To me, I always think of terms in stay of the moment. If 70 is in the back of their mind, that’s OK, but to me what’s most important every day to remember, what are the principles we play for?
Playing together, sharing the ball, playing with pace that is overwhelming for other teams. If they do that as a unit–play with pace and share the ball–they’ll improve and if the improve they’ll overcome anything.
If they get caught worrying about their individual success… or 70 wins… they may become focused on the outcome and that’s when you get in trouble.
But I think they have the intelligence, they like each other, they have a great staff… that all keeps them on the path.
No. 3: McHale already has job offer from Celtics — Kevin McHale was fired from his job yesterday as coach of the Houston Rockets. How long will it be until he lands another NBA gig? Apparently not very long — if McHale wants to head back to his old stomping grounds. According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, McHale has a standing job offer of sorts from the Boston Celtics and his ex-teammate turned Celtics boss Danny Ainge:
In what will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, Kevin McHale was flooded with calls and text messages from his friends after his firing by the Rockets today.
And one of those friends offered him a job.
“I’ve always tried to get Kevin to come work with me and work with my big guys,” said Celtic president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Herald.
Always includes now.
“I told Kevin that today,” said Ainge, who is on the road scouting college games. “We’ve got a spot for him. I know we could figure something out for him in some capacity, but I think he’s just in a wait and see mode.
“He appreciated me reaching out to him, but I think he’s just going to lay low. He’s probably got bigger and better things to do — or more relaxing things to do.
“He’ll have some opportunities in TV, and maybe when the dust settles I can get him out to teach the slippery eel to Kelly [Olynyk] and Sully [Jared Sullinger] and Amir [Johnson],” Ainge added with a laugh, referring to one of his old Celtic teammate’s inside moves.
Another of McHale’s former teammates, Rick Carlisle, is coaching the Mavericks against the Celtics tonight.
“You know, here’s a guy that has such amazing integrity as a person,” he said. “You watch him on the sidelines, and he walks with a limp because of the sacrifices he made to be one of the greatest champions in history.
“He loves and respects the game so much. It’s surprising when something like this happens, shocking even. But he’s going to be fine. He’s going to get a chance to get some rest here and, who knows, probably jump on TV and have a blast doing that. And then there’ll be a lot of teams wanting to hire him, because he did a fantastic job in Houston. You look at their team over the last few years; their roster was constantly in flux. He did an amazing job putting that thing together.”
Brad Stevens agreed.
“First and foremost, I think we’re in a business where expectations certainly drive decisions at times,” said the Celt coach. “You know, I don’t agree with the firing, but it’s not my choice to make.
“I think that Kevin is a great coach. Kevin’s been great to me. Kevin is obviously a great Celtic. People love him everywhere they’ve been. Everybody that you hear from loves working with him, loves being around him. So to me, from the outside looking in, it looks like 11 games in making a rash decision. But, again, it’s not my call, and I’m not going to be the one that can appropriately analyze that because I’m not in there every day.
“But I send my best to Kevin and wish him nothing but the best, and he’ll be coaching again when he wants to be because he’s a really good coach. I can just judge on how their team did, and last year I thought that team did as well as they could have done.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams is still working to find his game this season … Good sign for the Orlando Magic last night as Victor Oladipo got back in the lineup … Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio is glad to finally be healthy again … One lineup change already in Houston? Ty Lawson is out as the starting point guard and Jason Terry is in …
ICYMI of the Night: We could watch this jam DeMar DeRozan flushed in the face of Rudy Gobert on an endless loop …
VIDEO: DeMar DeRozan posterizes Rudy Gobert