NBA

Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers prepared to give Kevin Durant 'whatever he wants' in contract negotiations

Jay Asser 12/06/2018
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Kevin Durant can choose to hit free agency this summer.

Everyone hoping the Golden State Warriors dynasty breaks up this summer will likely have to wait a little longer, with the team and Kevin Durant appearing to be on the same page in regards to his immediate future.

After helping the Warriors repeat as champions with their third title in four years and winning Finals MVP in the process, Durant has been vocal about his desire to remain in Golden State.

Even though it will likely cost the franchise quite a bit of money to retain him, Warriors general manager Bob Myers expressed the orgranisation is prepared to give Durant “whatever he wants” in contract negotiations this summer.

“Sometimes you don’t negotiate. I’d love to have him for 10 years. Kevin Durant, look what he did for us last year. He did us a great service,” Myers said.

“He’s earned the right to sign whatever deal he wants. I just want him to sign a deal. But [I] want him to be happy and want him to know that we want him as long as he wants to be here. He’s earned that, to kind of lay out the terms.

“He can do whatever he wants. That shouldn’t be a long negotiation. Our goal, to be honest, is to try to keep the whole thing together, so that’s the pieces of the puzzle we’ve got to try to figure out.”

Last year, Durant agreed to a discounted two-year, $51.25 million deal instead of inking a max contract so Golden State could keep Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, while handing Stephen Curry the five-year max.

This summer, Durant could sign for as much as four years at around $160 million, which the Warriors are apparently more than happy to do to retain their championship core.

Golden State are slated to be in the luxury tax as it is, but signing Durant to the max would hamper their ability to fill out the rest of the roster even more.

The contracts of Nick Young, Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw will all come off the books, leaving the Warriors with plenty of decisions as to who to bring back and who to use their roster spots on.

If Durant opts for a max deal, his contract would align with Curry’s, running until 2022. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are scheduled to hit free agency in the summer of 2019 and 2020, respectively, meaning Golden State will have to either get creative, or foot a historic tax bill to keep their core four together.

That could open the door for at least one of the foursome to leave in the coming years in order to maximise their financial earnings, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the case with Durant this summer.

Watch basketball player Gaafar ElSouri on his road back to fitness

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NBA

Size rules top of NBA draft as DeAndre Ayton leads promising group of big men prospects

Jay Asser 11/06/2018
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DeAndre Ayton is considered by many the top player in the draft.

With the NBA season now over, attention has turned to the draft, which will inject the league with its next influx of stars – at least that’s the hope.

Prospects in the NBA draft, as compared to the drafts in the other three major American sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL), may have a greater chance of being impact players right away, but that doesn’t mean teams are any less susceptible to ending up with busts.

Teams weigh a number of factors before drafting players, including skillset, physical tools, intangibles and even age. Fit with the current roster can also come into play, but with how the game has trended towards position-less basketball in recent years, teams are likely to take the best player on their board and figure the rest out later.

This year’s class is led by an uber-talented big man group, with DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr, Marvin Bagley and Mohamed Bamba all appearing to be on the radar for the top five picks in the draft, which takes place on June 21.

Arizona’s Ayton is considered by many to be the top prospect overall and a generational centre who can change the trajectory of a franchise. In his lone college season, the 19-year-old averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and shot 61.2 per cent from the field, proving he has the offensive chops to be a force at the next level, especially if his 3-point stroke continues to develop. The real question with Ayton is whether he can grow on the defensive end, where his awareness and rim protection left a lot to be desired at Arizona.

There’s very little concern when it comes to the defence of Jackson and Bamba, who combined their enormous length with great instincts to be elite rim protectors in college. While Jackson has the quickness to also hang on the perimeter and shot 39.6 per cent from 3 last year, Bamba still has to show he can develop into more than just a shot-blocker and rim-roller.

Bagley entered college with great prestige – and a year earlier than scheduled – but his season didn’t quite impress like other top prospects. He plays like a wing in a big man’s body, outside of his shooting touch which is lagging, but his defence was hit-and-miss.

All four big men expected to go near the top of the draft could end up being the best player, but they’ll also have to compete with Luka Doncic for that distinction.

A transcendent international prospect, Doncic is set to take his talents to the NBA after succeeding in the EuroLeague with Real Madrid since the age of 16.

His 6-foot-8 frame, combined with his guard-like skills, makes him intriguing in today’s game, while his versatility, polish and experience make him a candidate for the top overall pick.

Small-ball may be in vogue in the NBA, but size remains coveted, as this draft is set to prove.

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Gaafar ElSouri knows the drill on basketball comeback trail

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Back in action: Gaafar ElSouri

Over the past few days we’ve been following basketball player Gaafar ElSouri on his road to recovery following a devastating injury. Last year he suffered a career-threatening torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) leaving him on the treatment table. The injury was so serious it required painstaking reconstructive surgery on his knee. It was a devastating blow for ElSouri, whose basketball career has seen him play all around the world, in Europe, Southeast Asia and Canada.

Determined to get back to playing again he set about rebuilding his fitness, and his career, using a set of specially designed exercises. He begun filming his workouts and basketball drills and posting them online. In a series of videos, coinciding with the NBA Finals, Sport360 has been tracking his progress as he looks to get back into competition.

Today’s workout in the series is a number of combo exercises that can be used as pre-game warm ups and drills to enhance your ball control. The agility ladder drills help players execute game moves using the proper footwork. These exercises also warm up the central nervous system (CNS) for compound movements that involve sudden changes of direction. The shooting drills can be used as a pre-game warm up and to enhance your shooting ability from different areas on the court. The key is to perfect every dribble and shot with game speed.

Speaking to Sport360, ElSouri said, “The injury was unexpected because I actually carried on playing for a while with a bad knee. I knew something was off but I didn’t think it was that serious,” he said. “Its motivated me and allowed me to focus more and go back to the basics skills and learning more workouts. Its been harder mentally than physically, the fact that basketball was taken away from me for a period of time was tough. I realised how much I love the game and enjoy completing. Getting an injury has helped me fall in love with playing basketball again; I’ve enjoyed the process of becoming a better player.”

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