Kevin Durant hopes lockout won't drag
OKLAHOMA CITY -- With time running out for the NBA to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with its players, scoring champion Kevin Durant seems to think a lockout is inevitable.
Repeatedly saying he was trying to stay positive, Durant's comments during his annual youth basketball camp in Oklahoma City reflected on the increasing chances that a new deal won't get done before the current one expires at the end of the day Thursday.
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"I just hope things go smooth, we're not locked out for as long as people think and we get back to what we're supposed to do," Durant said Wednesday.
Durant's week started with a stop in Chicago and he'll next head to Austin, Texas, for another camp Friday and Saturday. Before long, he'll be making a trip to China for the second straight summer.
All of that takes time away from his duties as Oklahoma City's union representative. He even said he "lost track of time" and didn't realize the CBA was set to run out so soon.
"With me being so wrapped up in this and doing the things I had to do this summer, I didn't have the chance to really go to the meetings and sit down and really know how things are going," Durant said.
Among the sticking points are that the players want to keep the security that comes with guaranteed contracts, while owners are seeking ways to cut payroll costs.
"You want to be locked in as much as possible. I think that's what guys really fight for in this league is years," said Durant, who signed a five-year, $85 million contract last summer. "Hopefully we stick with it."
Even just being prohibited from going to the team's practice facility would seem strange to Durant, who's often there with teammates. During recent offseasons, they've bounced between players' hometowns to work out together.
"I think it wouldn't affect our team because we're always around each other anyway," Durant said. "But us coming to the facility and working with our coaches and our strength coaches and just seeing them, I think that's going to be a change for all of us."
"We've got to lean on each other," he added. "We've got to come in and work as a group together and try to get ready for whenever we start the season back up."
Durant and the Thunder made it to the Western Conference finals last season before losing to eventual champion Dallas. All five starters and four top reserves are under contract for next season, after backup center Nazr Mohammed got a new deal Wednesday.
Daequan Cook, another bench player, received a qualified offer this week to make him a restricted free agent.
"Nobody expected us to be in the conference finals, but we accomplished that goal and it's time for us to move on and try to set bigger goals," Durant said. "I'm excited about this season, I'm excited about (first-round draft pick) Reggie Jackson, I'm excited about all my teammates getting better this summer. So, it should be fun.
"Hopefully we won't have to miss any games and we come back on a normal schedule, but we'll see how it happens."
About 450 kids were expected to attend Durant's sold-out camps in Oklahoma City, with more than 200 more on a waiting list, according to Gregg Darbyshire of ProCamps. His sessions in Austin were also sold out.
"That's what we started playing this game for is just to play," Durant said. "Of course, once you get to higher levels of basketball other things start to creep in and situations like this cost you your time on the basketball floor."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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