It was a wild week in the NBA. Kevin Durant finally returned to Oklahoma City to face Russell Westbrook and his former team, the Knicks continue to be a circus, and we finally a few trades. We’ll take a look at that and more in this week’s NBA Storylines.
Oakley vs. Dolan
We’ve all seen the video by now of Charles Oakley being dragged out of his seat at the Knicks game after getting into a scuffle with security. But what came after Oakley’s arrest is what will haunt the Knicks in the future.
James Dolan did an interview with Michael Kay the following day and continued to bash the former Knick, suggesting he has a drinking problem and announcing Oakley is banned from Madison Square Garden.
This is an awful look for Dolan and the Knicks, who continue to create a bad image of themselves around the league. But here’s the most important thing of all:
What Dolan doesn't understand: By trying to win battle w/ Oak, he's lost war. Between Dolan/Jackson, Knicks are toxic free agent destination
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 10, 2017
The Knicks have been a dumpster fire this year, and it only continues to get worse. The crazy thing? Derrick Rose going M.I.A. before a game feels like forever ago. That’s just how much drama there has been surrounding this organization with the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, and the Oakley situation.
A few days later, Dolan decided to host a few former Knicks, including Latrell Sprewell, at their home game against the Spurs. But what Dolan doesn’t realize is that the damage has already been done.
Durant returns to OKC
To no one’s surprise, Kevin Durant was showered with boo’s in his first return to Oklahoma City since leaving the Thunder. Fans taunted him throughout the entire game, wearing shirts with cupcakes on them, while others wore shirts with the phrase “KowarD” on it.
Some Thunder fans will be wearing "Koward" shirts for Kevin Durant's return. pic.twitter.com/35JLINNXdu
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 11, 2017
But despite the torture Durant received from fans, the Thunder were no match for the loaded Warriors team.
The game did have plenty of excitement though, including a few jawing matches between Durant and Westbrook, and a scuffle between Durant and Andre Roberson.
Kevin Durant took on Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson and the whole Thunder crowd tonight. pic.twitter.com/ivF2iHPtoP
— PinPoint Sports (@SportsPinPoint) February 12, 2017
While there were a few heavily anticipated moments, such as the one’s above, the game wasn’t competitive for very long. And while there will naturally be tension between the two teams, that could eventually die down as we have yet to witness a close game between these two teams in their first three meetings this season.
KD finished the game with 34 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Westbrook recorded 47 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, while also committing 11 turnovers.
Forcing Westbrook to play one-on-one ball pretty much took the Thunder out of the game.
Westbrook vs. Durant iso… pic.twitter.com/WS7PlAC66f
— Full Court Prez (@fullcourtprez) February 12, 2017
By looking at the box score, Westbrook certainly put up more impressive numbers. But they didn’t equate to much success for OKC. His eight assists accounted for 19 points, while his turnovers created 15 points for the Warriors, according to ESPN.
The nail in the coffin was when Westbrook got switched onto Durant, and KD proceeded to nail a deep three right in Russ’s eye.
With Westbrook guarding him, Durant sends a message pic.twitter.com/7TLlWpQn8Z
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) February 12, 2017
The rise of Nikola Jokic
If you are just a casual NBA fan, Nikola Jokic is probably the best player you’ve never heard of. But in his sophomore campaign, Jokic is beginning to make a name for himself.
He was named to the All-Rookie first team last season, but in 2017 he’s really starting to take off.
Jokic is quite talented for a seven footer. He’s got impressive skills in the post, and he’s one of the best passing big men in the game.
A few nights ago, he had by far the best game of his career. 40 points in Madison Square Garden? Not bad for a 21 year-old.
Denver has a very young team, but it appears they’ve finally found the piece to build around in Nikola Jokic.
Rumors, trades, and injuries
Trades + Rumors:
- Jusuf Nurkic was rumored to be on the trade market for a while and Denver finally pulled the trigger on a deal to ship him out of town. In the deal, Portland will send Denver Mason Plumlee and a 2018 2nd-round pick for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-rounder.
- Cavs announced they have traded Birdman to the Hornets for a protected 2nd-round pick.
- Jahlil Okafor has been in trade rumors quite a bit recently, and actually sat out Philly’s game the other night for that exact reason. According to a report, Okafor was not on the team flight to Charlotte and a trade could be right around the corner.
- The Raptors and Heat are reportedly interested in trading for Serge Ibaka. After acquiring Ibaka at the draft last summer, the Magic are expected to move him before the deadline.
- The Blazers are reportedly looking to deal Festus Ezeli who they signed this past summer. Ezeli has not played in a game yet this season.
- The Lakers will “strongly consider” moving their veterans before the trade deadline.
- Vlade Divac told ESPN that Sacramento will not be dealing DeMarcus Cosuins ahead of the trade deadline.
- Zach LaVine will miss the remainder of the 2016–17 season with a torn ACL after suffering an awkward fall against the Pistons.
- Jabari Parker will also miss the remainder of the 2016–17 season with a torn ACL. This is the second time Parker has torn the ACL in his left knee.
- Joel Embiid has a minor meniscus tear in his left knee and is listed as day-to-day. He has missed 11 of Philly’s last 12 games, but will not require surgery.