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Paul George: Thunder Finish Won’t Dictate Free Agency Decision

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As the Oklahoma City Thunder battle to secure a playoff spot, Paul George said it’s not “championship or bust” for him as he evaluates this season with regard to his future free-agency decision.

“As I told [ESPN’s] Rachel [Nichols], I can see myself being here,” George said. “I’ve been happy here, I’ve been happy with the organization, happy with my teammates. Our record is not what we want it to be, but I think I’ve enjoyed just learning and being around these guys. So my answer is still the same. I’m not going to let the playoffs or how we finish this season persuade or indicate where I’m going to this offseason. I’m going to put everything into this and again, I can definitely see myself being here.”

George, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, has remained consistent in praising the Thunder organization since it traded for him last July. But with the Thunder’s season going through some considerable ups and downs, and now the possibility of missing the postseason altogether in play, George attempted to alleviate some of the pressure.

“This is our first year together. This is Year 1 for this group,” he said. “We’ve got a chance to win it all, but realistically it takes time for things to build and chemistry to mesh. Just for everybody to be on the same page. So this wasn’t a championship or bust coming into this for me. It was just an opportunity to see what it’s like being here and just to naturally fall in love with it. And it’s been that. It’s been a lot of love here.”

Source: Royce Young of ESPN

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Report: Warriors ‘hopeful’ of Kevin Durant Return in NBA Finals, DeMarcus Cousins Expected to Return

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Warriors forward Kevin Durant (strained right calf) and center DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quadriceps muscle) were evaluated by the team’s medical staff earlier today.

Durant, who has not yet been cleared to begin on-court activities, continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation. At this point, it is unlikely that he will play at the beginning of the 2019 NBA Finals, but it’s hopeful that he could return at some point during the series.

Cousins also continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation and practiced with the team today for the first time since suffering the injury on April 16. It’s anticipated that he will play at some point during the 2019 NBA Finals, but the exact date is to be determined and depends on his progress.

The status for both players will be updated next Wednesday.

Source: Golden State Warriors

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Sources: Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard Expected to Agree to Four-Year Supermax Extension

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Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are expected to come to terms over the summer on a four-year, $191 million supermax contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Lillard would officially qualify for the supermax if he’s voted to one of the three All-NBA Teams, which is virtually a lock for the four-time All-Star.

Lillard has two years and approximately $62 million remaining on his current deal. The extension would put him under contract for the next six years, and he’d be 34 years old by the time the deal expires, perhaps solidifying his status as arguably the greatest Trail Blazer of all time.

According to rival executives, a new pact for Lillard would almost certainly include a player option, something the guard bypassed on his previous deal.

Source: Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports

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Sources: Clippers ‘equally dangerous threat to Knicks’ to Sign Kevin Durant in Free Agency

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As for the bigger-picture matter of Durant’s future: I am unafraid to announce, with no trace of hot-takery, that firm predictions about what Durant will do when free agency starts in 40 days are ill-advised.

Within the last month, very smart and plugged-in people I have consulted say that the Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as an equally dangerous threat to the Knicks to sign Durant away from Golden State. And I believe it.

Problem is, at various points during the season, I have heard trusted insiders state with conviction that Durant is already planning to join the Knicks … and then that he is likely to consider the Nets as well … and now that he is eyeing the Clippers just as intently as New York.

It leads one to conclude that maybe the best forecast, at least for the moment, is that nobody but Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman know.

Source: Marc Stein of The New York Times

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