Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook never got the chance to respond to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saying he was an “All-Star but not a superstar,” as forward Kevin Durant jumped in to call Cuban an “idiot” before Westbrook could answer the question. On Wednesday, following the team’s practice, Westbrook was asked what it meant for Durant to jump in and defend him like that.
“It was very important [to me],” Westbrook said. “Me and Kevin’s relationship is great. He’s like my brother. We talk about different things, not just basketball-related. He’s always gonna have my back and I’ll always have his.”
Source: Royce Young of ESPN
Sources: Magic to Aggressively Shop Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja
It might go down as one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time: How did this Magic team start 8-4? Orlando has since gone a ghastly 4-27, which will most likely lead to a fire sale at next month’s trade deadline. Rival executives expect Jeff Weltman, Orlando’s new team president, to aggressively hunt for new homes for the likes of Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja, given that Nikola Vucevic’s broken finger is likely to preclude dealing the center.
Source: Marc Stein of the New York Times
Nikola Mirotic: Potential Trade Has Been ‘motivation’
Bulls forward Niko Mirotic admits that all the trade speculation surrounding his future in Chicago has been a motivating factor for him as he continues the best stretch of his NBA career. Monday marked the first day of the season on which Mirotic could be traded.
“This is kind of some motivation for me,” Mirotic said after Monday’s 119-111 win over the Miami Heat. “I know it sounds weird. But people are talking, ‘OK, Niko be gone’ and ‘Bye bye, Niko’ or whatever. But for me, it’s OK, just do what you’ve got to do. Play well and try to do your best until the last day and not be distracted. I know a lot of people were asking me before this, ‘OK, Niko, Jan. 15’s coming, what do you think?’
“No, I’m not thinking about Jan. 15. I’m thinking day by day, doing my job, being consistent, everybody’s talking about that the last couple years, and that’s my goal. Because when I focus day by day, it’s for me easier.”
“I am enjoying this moment,” Mirotic said. “The team is winning. I am playing well. That’s all I can ask … I know my name is going to be there [in trade speculation]. But I’m doing my job, I’m sure [the Bulls front office is] doing their job, and we’re both going to do what’s the best for the team.”
Source: Nick Friedell of ESPN
Report: Miami HEAT Apply for Disabled-Player Exception
The Miami Heat have applied to the NBA for the $5.5 million disabled-player exception that became available in the wake the decision by guard Dion Waitersto undergo surgery on his chronically troublesome left ankle.
Monday was the deadline to file for the exception, which is half of Waiters’ 2017-18 salary.
The exception is made available if an independent medical panel determines that Waiters will be sidelined at least through June 15. The part of the process has now been set in motion.
The timetable for Waiters’ recovery runs at least that long, although he would be eligible to return earlier even if the exception is spent.
The exception does not create an additional roster spot, with the Heat already at the maximum of 15 players under standard NBA contracts, in addition to the two allowable two-way contracts with the developmental league.