Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “The Knicks, sources say, expect to be a contender for Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant when he is projected to become a free agent in July 2016 and believe their chances will be enhanced by the presence of Fisher, one of Durant’s favorite teammates with the Thunder.”
Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “But if Oklahoma City fails to win a championship, that could change Durant’s thinking. It may be hard to fathom given Durant’s impassioned MVP speech, but some of those close to Durant believe that as much as he loves OKC, he may leave in free agency if things don’t change. ‘He only wants to win a championship,’ one league source familiar with Durant’s thinking said Tuesday. And Fisher’s presence could help lead him to New York if he decides to bolt Oklahoma City. ‘It will definitely be a factor,’ the league source said. There is another, obvious link between Durant and New York City. His agency, Roc Nation Sports, is headed by Jay Z, one of the Big Apple’s most well-known residents.”
Chad Ford’s latest mock: “The Thunder have been in hot pursuit of Kristaps Porzingis, but it looks like he’s quickly rising out of their draft range. Nurkic has fans as high as the late lottery thanks to his NBA size and soft hands to play the center position and let’s face it, in a draft devoid of bigs, that’s a commodity. However, his lack of elite athleticism and some conditioning issues mean he’s a nice draft and stash candidate for the Thunder.”
Anthony Slater grading Russell Westbrook: “It was softly criticized at the time, as the Thunder remained super cautious with Westbrook down the stretch of the season, sitting him in important games even with seeding on the line. But once the playoffs started, Westbrook’s restrictions were lifted and the rest seemed to help. Unleashed on the Western Conference, he looked as absurdly athletic as ever. A few months ago, there was severe worry across the state about his long-term health. In a few short months, he put that to bed. Some of that credit needs to go to how OKC handled him.”
Andrew Gilman of Fox Sports Southwest on draft options: “If Thabo Sefolosha doesn’t return, like most are projecting, the Thunder will be needing some help with perimeter defense. Robinson could be that guy. The Thunder have a decent defensive option on the bench with Roberson, but Roberson is not any sort of offensive threat. Robinson isn’t a great scorer, but he’s better than Roberson. Robinson, the son of former All-Star Glenn Robinson, is great for a big dunk and can run the floor. He shot 59 percent, but his effort on defense for Michigan was impressive He is long – 6â10 wingspan â and is a good rebounder, too.”
Berry Tramel: “Remember the helpless feeling of Thunder fans – heck, of Thunder players and Thunder coaches and Thunder mascots and Thunder anything – when the Spurs roared to runaway leads in Games 1, 2 and 5? The natural feeling is to analyze your own squad. Make excuses or make scapegoats. Blame it on Serge Ibaka’s absence or Scotty Brooks’ coaching or Kendrick Perkins’ mere existence on Earth. But the truth is, sometimes, the other guys have something to do with it. The Miami Heat, with a pedigree as good as any in the NBA over the last half century, felt the wrath of San Antonio excellence Tuesday night in Game 3.”
Darnell Mayberry says Westbrook is OKC’s most important player: “We’ve seen life without him in the regular season and postseason. Here’s a recap. It ain’t pretty. The Thunder has no chance at a championship without him. And even though the team can survive the regular season, we now know that only a herculean effort from Kevin Durant keeps OKC afloat during the dog days.”
It’s World Cup day. OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY.