Monday Bolts – 7.27.09 looked at 10 players that helped their Team USA stock and No. 1 was our friend: “Kevin Durant, SF, thunderbolt23Oklahoma City … Showcase stats: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 5-12 fg, 1-4 3pt, 9-9 ft …  In order to ensure a spot on next year’s roster, Durant needed to show that he’s more than just a scorer, and he did that. He was a factor defensively and also made plays for his teammates. It took some time for him to get going offensively on Saturday, but he got to the line often and got out in transition for some easy buckets. Barring injury, he’s a lock to be making the trip to Turkey next summer.” Notice that – a factor defensively. I am drooling everywhere right now.

Also from that same story, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green also made the list: “Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City … Showcase stats: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 3-5 fg, 1-2 3pt … Over the course of the three days, nobody made more plays for himself or his teammates than Westbrook. He’s got great hands defensively and picked up a couple of steals in the backcourt on Saturday. He’s also lightning fast and can jump out of the gym. But his decision-making was hit or miss, as he would often over-penetrate and lose the ball when he got into a crowd … Jeff Green, PF, Oklahoma City … Showcase stats: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2-8 fg, 1-4 3pt, 3-4 ft  … Green doesn’t stand out with anything he does, but after watching him for a while, you realize that he does everything pretty well and doesn’t hurt you. After sitting out some time with an arm injury, he hit a big shot in one of the scrimmages on Friday, and he came out strong on Saturday, before slowing down in the second half.”

Bill Simmons, handing out offseason awards: “To Kevin Durant. Why? He flew to Vegas for summer league even though he wasn’t playing, sat on his team’s bench every day, cheered his boys on, dispensed advice during timeouts and everything else you’d want from your top gun. All signs point to Durant becoming one of those galvanizing, personable, Duncan-like leaders for the Zombie Sonics. Love it. Couldn’t be happier about this. Our one-sided bromance continues to be in full bloom. And you know what else? …

More: … “To Sam Presti, GM, Zombies. Love the restraint. He’s letting this baby breathe (see above) by building around good chemistry guys, preserving his cap space, avoiding potentially dangerous contracts and building a young foundation around Durant. (In other words, he’s doing everything Cleveland didn’t do for LeBron these past six seasons.) The Zombies will be $9 million under the cap this season and have $10 million worth of expiring contracts. For teams getting hammered by the economy that need to shed high-salaried contracts, Presti is their first, second and third calls and he’s probably in F-You mode every time he answers. If only he were on Twitter. EFFYOUNBAGM: “Philly just offered Elton Brand, Sam Dalembert and its next four first-round picks for Damien Wilkins. Laughed. Hung up.” EFFYOUNBAGM: “Note to Jersey: Stop offering me Bobby Simmons. Why don’t you offer me VD while you’re at it?” EFFYOUNBAGM: “Dear Atlanta: I’d rather peel the skin off my body than take on the Crawford and Pachulia contracts. Thanks, though.”

The New York Times on the Team USA mini-camp: “The biggest revelation on the floor was Durant, who averaged 25.3 points in the N.B.A. hinterland of Oklahoma City. Colangelo said Durant “set himself apart” and has practically assured himself a spot on the 2010 world championship tournament team and the 2012 Olympic team. USA Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski joked that there was no such thing as a safe bet in Las Vegas, but it appeared that Durant’s play, combined with his years of participating as a practice player with USA Basketball, has destined him to become the program’s next star. His attitude toward the program is what USA Basketball is looking for.”

KD evidently lost to Jeff Green in some shooting contest: “I lost to Jeff green in the shooting games lastnight Now I have to buy him a Louis vuitton bag..wats da cheapest one?? Lol … I’m gon get him a real one but which one should I get cuz I never shop in there…don’t kno the product lol…I’m cheap…I hate losing bets.”

Darnell Mayberry looks deep into Kevin Durant’s future contract negotiations: “In what will be a mere formality, the Thunder will announce sometime before Oct. 31 that it has exercised its team option for Durant’s fourth season. It allows the franchise to keep No. 35 through 2010-11. Durant will then become eligible for his first contract extension July 1, 2010. And next summer should prove to be a cut-and-dry negotiation period for Durant and the Thunder. Certain incentives likely will have to be hashed out, but the terms of the deal will be open and shut — the maximum number of Benjamins the Thunder can throw Durant’s way. It’ll also be more Benjamins than any other team can offer, with league rules allowing the Thunder to tender more years and higher annual raises to retain its player. The only major question this time next year seems to be whether Durant will sign a long-term contract or be satisfied with a short-term deal.”

Sean Deveney looks at the best bets to make the 2010 Team USA squad: “Jeff Green. Dwight Howard didn’t play very well in the 2008 Olympics, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t be invited back. Chris Bosh, however, is a near shoo-in to stay. Carlos Boozer and Tayshaun Prince might not be asked back, leaving some frontcourt spots open. Problem is, no young big man has really stood out as being an international type. Brook Lopez looked good in the scrimmage. Greg Oden didn’t. A few possibilities–LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee and Blake Griffin–didn’t play this week because of injury or contract concerns. Perhaps the best fit might be Green, an admittedly unconventional choice. But Green can shoot, handle the ball and pass, and he is versatile enough to guard those deep-shooting bigs who give the Americans trouble. “I think the style they play in the Olympics is how I play,” Green said. “But I know I have a lot to prove to them.”

Sam Amico on KD: “I could watch Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant play all day. He’s just that exciting. I could have said the same thing about George Gervin, a high-scoring star in the 1970s and early ’80s with San Antonio — even though Gervin was a little before my time. Still, Durant reminds me very much of what I saw of Gervin, with his slender frame, smooth style and ability to score on anywhere, anywhere, anytime.”

The Thunder Caravan made a visit to Guymon, Oklahoma yesterday.

The free agent people seem to have forgot about: “Let’s get right to it: restricted free agent David Lee has been shat on this summer. Billed as one of the premier restricted free agents, Lee seemed like a lock for a semi-lucrative raise after an impressive showing in his fourth season with the Knicks: 16 points (55% FG), 11.7 boards, 2.2 assists, and 1 steal in roughly 35 minutes per as the team’s starting power forward.”

Nick Collison: “Ordered the mickey mouse pankcake for my daughter and she started crying when I cut off his ear. Whatever emma U ate his eyes.”