Wednesday Bolts – 7.29.09

I just CANNOT get over Kevin Durant’s humility. After Sam Smith said he may be better than LeBron yesterday, thunderbolt23Durant tweeted, “MAN Y PEOPLE KEEP SAYIN THAT..IM NOT NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS LEBRON MAN.” And this morning he said, “STOP COMPARING ME TO BRON…HES ON ANOTHER LEVEL!! CMON PEOPLE..BE SERIOUS.” That just blows me away. Before you just take that for granted, think about it for a second. How many professional athletes would say stuff like that and not jump all over someone calling him the best? Not many, right? I need a tattoo on my face that says, “I heart KD.”

Darnell Mayberry’s take on it: “I chalk up Durant’s response as yet another sign of his humbleness and respect for the league and one of the game’s best. Also, I think Durant attacks his forthcoming ascent in a very practical manner. He realizes he has the gifts to develop into one of the most unique players the league has ever seen. But he’s more focused on the work it will take to earn having his name mentioned in the same breath of LeBron rather than simply accepting the acclaim with which media and fans already want to anoint upon him.”

Patrick Cassidy of Dime on it: “Naturally, my first reaction was “Sam, GTFOH.” There is part of me though, that gets what he’s saying. KD is a beast, and all signs point to him being an absolute monster this season as the best player on one of the League’s rising young squads. The fact that he’s 6-10, has range for days, and can play multiple positions makes him a serious weapon – but he’s not the athlete that LeBron is, he’s nowhere near as explosive or powerful, and struggles guarding smaller, faster players.”

Mayberry also looked at KD’s upcoming contract situation: “In short, players like Durant just don’t walk after their rookie contracts. Whether we believe Durant will do what he’s repeatedly said he wants to do — remain with the Thunder for as long as possible — is up to us at this point. It’s certainly understandable how fans and media types have revoked the benefit of the doubt from athletes and coaches. There are far too many examples of a player or coach insisting his or her heart is somewhere only to jump ship weeks later. But if Durant’s good old-fashioned word isn’t enough, let’s examine history. Out of 70 top 10 picks from 1999-2005, 40 players went on to sign an extension with the team that drafted them or the club that traded for them.”

Kyle Weaver had successful surgery on his thumb. He should be ready for camp this fall.

Scott Howard-Cooper of SI with some nice things to say about the Thunder and James Harden: “Slowly, but absolutely 56976420surely, the Thunder continue to gain on the pack in the West, now with a new reason to be very encouraged about the future. That’s in case it isn’t enough that Kevin Durant is beginning to touch stardom, that Russell Westbrook needs months, rather than years, to become a starting point guard and the Thunder establishing themselves as one of the best rebounding teams in the league. The post-summer league scouting report from one opposing personnel boss is that “James Harden is as solid as they get. He’s got 20-point scorer written all over him.” Said another: “NBA skills and NBA mind.” Meaning the No. 3 pick in the June draft, a shooting guard from Arizona State, is tracking toward an immediate and significant contribution despite flying under the radar of the likes of Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn and Rubio. As the others have been praised and dissected, Harden quietly has established a game that is much more a statement on dependability than flash. He was always one of the most NBA-ready players available and just happened to be a perfect position fit for the Thunder. Playing next to Westbrook, Harden should offer Oklahoma City a secondary ball handler capable of scoring at a level to make him a perfect complementary threat for Durant and deliver the offensive boost the Thunder needs.”

The Pacers officially signed Earl Watson and evidently it’s a one-year, $2.8M deal. Good for Earl.

The Thunder’s got bids in for the new practice facility and they’ve narrowed it down to 11: “According to City Manager Jim Couch, Atlas Construction was the low bid ($10.1 million), far below the city’s estimated $15 million cost. Atlas’ bid must still be approved by the City Council at a meeting in August.”

There’s still free agents out there and here’s a good tracker in case, well, you’ve lost track.

Some great footage of Russell Westbrook in Vegas last week: