The thought of Kevin Durant in a Warriors’ uniform is as complicated as it is premature, but to see him dominate at Oracle Arena like few opponents have in recent seasons, it comes with more than a little intrigue as well.
Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the same team? Could they co-exist schematically? Would they make the necessary sacrifices at the same time? If so, would they even need a fifth player?
Speculation persists that the Warriors will seriously consider Durant as a free agent option this summer, and the one-time Most Valuable Player did nothing to hurt his stock with 40 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. The forward also spent time against Curry at the defensive end.
The Warriors’ Draymond Green is among Durant’s biggest supporters.
“[Durant] is a very difficult cover, right there at the top with guys like Steph and LeBron [James],” Green told Balls. “You know, it’s all an argument at the end of the day. But [he’s] a very tough cover, and that’s why he’s the player he is.”
The Warriors could sign Durant and still retain Curry, Green and Klay Thompson as part of an All-Star cast, the likes of which the league hadn’t seen in years. In all likelihood, Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala would have to be traded and the rights to Harrison Barnes renounced for that to happen.
The 27-year-old Durant has been noncommittal about his future. As the plum of the free agent pie, he is sure to draw a crowd, the Los Angeles Lakers and hometown Washington Wizards among them.
“I can’t control any of that,” Durant said last week. “Just got to work hard every single day, focus on what’s in front of me and not worry about what’s going to happen down the line. All that stuff I can’t control. Like I said, when that time comes we’ll talk about it, but for right now, I’m 100 percent committed and locked in on being the best team and player I can be and helping my team try to get a championship.”
There’s also the possibility that Durant will be dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers before he hits the open market.
The Clippers say they have no interest to trade Blake Griffin, who embarrassed them in a recent altercation with an equipment manager that has him out of action for at least a month. But if they go belly up in the playoffs again, the front office will have that much more reason to make a blockbuster move.
If the Thunder also fall short of expectations, a Griffin-for-Durant trade would seem to have great potential. Griffin played his college ball at Oklahoma, less than 20 miles from where the Thunder play their home games
POTENTIAL FAIRY TALE: If Super Bowl 50 isn’t the last rodeo for Peyton Manning, he’ll have alternatives. The Colts would like Manning to finish his career in Indianapolis, where he spent his first 11 seasons, although if you’ve ever been to Naptown, it’s closer to 20-something.
Tell me: Why would he want to hold a clipboard for Andrew Luck?
“I want him to and I’ve asked him to,” Colts owner Jim Irsay told WISH-TV. “I would love to have him retire as a Colt and how he handles that part of his career.”
The Rams reportedly have had discussions about Manning for their Los Angeles debut. And there’s always the Broncos, with whom he has one year left on his contract but is expected to part ways. The Rams might want him to sell tickets and maybe play a little in an unsettled quarterbacking scenario.
A better idea: Win the Super Bowl, retire and enjoy your life.
THERE AIN’T NO JUSTICE: The NFL plans to adopt a so-called Rooney Rule for women, which will require that females be considered for executive positions. But until the league addresses its pathetic history with Hispanics, the mandate is little more than a case of selective inclusion.
Only three Hispanics have been head coaches in league history — Tom Fears, Tom Flores and Ron Rivera. Sixteen years elapsed from the time Flores coached his final game to the time that Rivera was hired, and the league did squat about it. Coupled with the dearth of players, the utter lack of Hispanics in leadership positions has left precious few role models for their people.
“We’ve talked about the importance of it, and it’s just kind of neat that we can be trailblazers,” said Rivera, who along with Flores were the only Hispanic head coaches in Super Bowl history. “He was somebody that I looked up [to] when I was playing professional football and then, as I started getting into coaching, thinking that I might be able to have the same kind of impact on some young coach like he did on me.
FANTASY ISLAND: Civic Auditorium could have passed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night, when numerous past and present greats packed the place for the annual NFL awards show. None swagged better than Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was named Fantasy Player of the Year. (Yes, there is such as thing as Fantasy Player of the Year these days.)
Brown spent the week in a $4,000-a-night, 4,000-square-foot party pad that included an indoor hot tub, a Ping-Pong table, three projection television screens and a pool in the living room, of course. He also had the services of a 24-hour butler.
When Brown got really bored, he drove around Santa Clara in a custom-made Rolls Royce that had his trademark “Business is boomin’” slogan emblazoned on the side, all of which made his recent concussion a bit easier to take.
BRODIE SACKED AGAIN: Congrats to longtime 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and late Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler for their Hall of Fame selections, but it was a shame that former quarterback John Brodie didn’t receive even token consideration for the honor again.
The local chamber of commerce tried to drum up support for the 80-year-old Brodie last summer, but that needed to done decades ago. So he continues to be ignored despite one league Most Valuable Player Award, a career 55 percent completion rate and 214 touchdown passes back when those numbers really meant something.
Not to diss Stabler, whose candidacy didn’t take off until he passed away, but Brodie was a superior athlete and pure passer. And don’t forget that his free agency at the height of the AFL-NFL war helped pave the way for the monstrous salaries of today. “Did you (see) those stats?” one-time Niners tackle Cas Banaszek told Balls not long ago. “I can take my granddaughter, who doesn’t know anybody, and say, ‘Hey, look at these numbers. Should be in or shouldn’t he?’ and she’d say it’s obvious. The fact that his team didn’t win a championship is held against him, and that’s unfair.
“John was a winner. He’d beat you at golf, He’d beat you at tennis. He’s beat you at poker. He’d beat you at tiddlywinks. He’d beat you at anything. If you played for money, he’d give it back to you. He just wanted to win.” If Brodie had a weakness, it was awful timing. In his prime, the 49ers didn’t put much around him. Late in his career, the dreaded Dallas Cowboys stood in the way.
“Because our teams didn’t play in Super Bowl, that’s the only thing some might say John lacks,” said ex-Niners wide receiver Gene Washington, no slouch himself. “But that shouldn’t determine whether a player is in the Hall of Fame or not. If gives a quarterback that platform, but if you look at the stats and the fact that he was the MVP of the league, that speaks volumes about why he should be in the Hall of Fame.”
REST OF THE STORY: The Niners did reschedule a Girl Scouts’ sleepover at Levi’s Stadium so they could make more money off a concert. To earn a spot at the 50-yard line, a Girl Scout was required to sell 600 boxes of cookies at five bucks a pop in six weeks. Which was a lot of dough when you consider that quarterback Colin Kaepernick was paid $11.4 million to snooze on the field for an entire season.
Anyway, the Niners bragged that they would foot the bill for the event, but other than a few security people, there wasn’t much to foot, really.
“That’s a good question. I don’t know what they’ll pay for,” one Girl Scout mom said while she sold cookies with her two kids outside Moscone West on Friday. “Some food maybe?”
Really, how much do a few Jolly Ranchers cost these days?
EXCUSE ME: Now for that complimentary 15-minute massage in the media lounge …
THE LIST: Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley (1971) is the only Super Bowl Most Valuable Player at that side of the ball. This could be the year he has company, as there will be no shortage of candidates in the Super Bowl today. The defenders with the best odds to break through per Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:
Luke Kuechly, Panthers: 15-1
Von Miller, Broncos: 25-1
Josh Norman, Panthers: 40-1
DeMarcus Ware, Broncis: 60-1
Kurt Coleman, Panthers: 100-1
Aqib Talib, Broncos: 100-1
Derek Wolfe, Broncos: 100-1
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