Video game losses motivate Kevin Durant

Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman reports:

Video game losses motivate Kevin Durant

If you had one guess, what would you say is driving Kevin Durant this season?

The scoring title? An All-Star appearance? A playoff berth?

How about video games?

“People might not believe me, but when I go home (after practice) I play video games and I lose all the time,” Durant said. “And I get so mad that I come back and I want to win everything. Something that small puts that winning mentality into my head.”

The NBA’s sixth leading scorer last season is off to a good start after Wednesday’s season-opening 102-89 victory over Sacramento. A stiffer test is in store tonight as the Thunder rolls into Detroit to take on a more talented Pistons team. But the goal of winning remains the same.

“That’s what this year is all about,” Durant said. “We have the right group of guys here and we all want to win, so that makes it easier as well.”

The Thunder are a fun, young team off to a nice little 2-0 start, and in the two wins Durant averaged 25.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Jazz exercise Kosta Koufos option

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today that the team has exercised its third-year option on center Kosta Koufos for the 2010-11 season.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

Koufos (7-0, 265, Ohio State) appeared in 48 games (seven starts) as a rookie in 2008-09, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game.  In 10 games (all starts) for the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League, Koufos posted 16.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.0 assists in 29.8 minutes per game.  A dual citizen of both Greece and the United States, he competed for Greece in the 2009 EuroCup.

Originally drafted by the Jazz in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft, Koufos played one season for Ohio State, where he averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in 37 games, earning NIT MVP honors after leading the Buckeyes to the 2008 NIT title.

Suns exercise options on Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez

The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has exercised the team options on the contracts of third-year forward Jared Dudley and second-year center Robin Lopez for the 2010-11 season.   The Suns have declined the 2010-11 team option on the contract of third-year swingman Alando Tucker.

Dudley, 24, enters his first full season with the Suns and third career campaign after being acquired along with Jason Richardson and a 2010 second-round pick for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary on Dec. 10, 2008.  The Boston College product appeared in 48 games for Phoenix in 2008-09, including 30 of 31 games following the All-Star break when he became one of the Suns’ most consistent reserves.  Dudley, who averaged 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.03 steals after the break, shot a career-high 39.4 percent from three-point range after joining the Suns.  The 6-7 forward made 26 three-pointers in 48 games with Phoenix after making a total of 12 in his first 93 career games with Charlotte.

The 7-0, 255-pound Lopez was the Suns’ first-round selection in the 2008 NBA Draft (15th overall).  A two-year collegiate standout at Stanford, Lopez averaged 3.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.68 blocks and 10.2 minutes in 60 appearances (seven starts) for the Suns last season.  His 51.8-percent field goal accuracy as a rookie would have been third-best among rookies and 17th-highest in the league overall if he’d tallied enough attempts to qualify (min. 300 field goals made).  Lopez, who averaged 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks for the Suns’ 2009 Las Vegas Summer League entry, is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot, suffered during this season’s training camp.

Originally selected by the Suns with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft, Tucker is a two-year pro who has appeared in 36 career games with Phoenix.  The 6-6, 205-pound forward, who saw action in 30 games last season, owns career averages of 4.4 points and 1.1 rebounds.

Rockets exercise Aaron Brooks option

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has picked up the option on the contract of guard Aaron Brooks.

Brooks (6-0, 161, Oregon), who was selected by Houston in the first round (26th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft, is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 assists in two games this season. In 2008-09, Brooks averaged career highs of 11.2 points (.366, 113-309 3FG), 2.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 80 games (35 starts). Brooks scored 18 points (6-16 FG, 3-6 3FG) and dished out a career-best 12 assists at Golden State (10/28/09). His previous high was 10 assists last season at Minnesota (3/1/09).

Wizards exercise options on Nick Young and JaVale McGee

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has exercised their options on both guard Nick Young and center/forward JaVale McGee.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

According to Mike Jones of the Washington Times, “Young, a third-year guard, will remain under contract a fourth year and will earn roughly $2.6 million. McGee, a second-year center/forward, had his contract extended a third season, and is due to earn about $1.6 million next season.”

Under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option.  Young was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, while McGee was selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Young averaged 9.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 157 games during his first two seasons in Washington, while McGee averaged 6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 block per game as a rookie with the Wizards last season.

Bobcats exercise Alexis Ajinca option

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has exercised its option on Alexis Ajinca for the 2010-11 season.

The 20th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Ajinca appeared in 31 games as a rookie last season with averages of 2.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in 5.9 minutes.  He was assigned to the D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce from March 9 – April 12 and averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 22.7 minutes. An early-entry candidate in the 2008 draft, Ajinca spent the previous two seasons playing professionally in his native France.

Javaris Crittenton out longer after left foot surgery

Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports:

Reserve point guard Javaris Crittenton revealed after practice today that he had exploratory surgery last Friday on his left foot and will be out at least another month.

It was tough not to notice Crittenton, who was using crutches to walk down a hallway outside the Verizon Center practice court, his left foot carefully bandaged.

So far in his short NBA career Crittenton hasn’t made a real impression yet. He will need to make some noise in the near future if he wants to stick around in the league.

Grizzlies exercise options on Mike Conley, OJ Mayo and Darrell Arthur

The Memphis Grizzlies today exercised the fourth-year team option on guard Mike Conley and picked up the third-year team options on guard O.J. Mayo and forward Darrell Arthur.  Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed. All three players are now signed through the 2010-11 season.

Conley, the fourth overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Grizzlies, owns career averages of 10.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 28.8 minutes in 136 games (108 starts). The third-year 6-1, 185-pound playmaker showed vast improvement last season, averaging 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists on 45.4 percent shooting in 36.3 minutes in 39 games after Lionel Hollins was named the team’s head coach on Jan. 25, 2009.

Mayo, the third overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, was the runner-up to the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose for the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year Award after leading all first-year players in scoring (18.5 points, 28th in NBA) and minutes (38.0, 11th). The 6-4, 210-pound guard, who was acquired by the Grizzlies in an eight-player deal on draft night, owns career averages of 18.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 38.0 minutes in 83 games (all starts).

Arthur, who was originally selected by the New Orleans Hornets with the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, was traded three times on draft night before he eventually landed in Memphis. In his first NBA season with the Grizzlies in 2008-09, Arthur ranked in the top 10 among NBA rookies in rebounds (4.6, 8th), blocks (0.68, 7th) and steals (0.68, 10th) and added 5.6 points in 76 games (64 starts). The 6-9, 235-pound forward is slated to miss up to four months after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn right pectoralis muscle on Oct. 23.

Raptors exercise Marco Belinelli option

Raptors exercise Marco Belinelli option

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have exercised the fourth year team option on the Rookie Scale Contract of guard Marco Belinelli. Belinelli is now guaranteed through the 2010-11season. In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the Raptors had until October 31 to exercise their option on Belinelli. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal was not disclosed.

Belinelli had 10 points in 19 minutes in Wednesday’s season-opening win versus Cleveland.

The 18th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Belinelli averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 21.0 minutes in 42 games last season with Golden State. He registered four 20-point games during the 2008-09 campaign, including a career-high 27 points December 12, 2008 at Atlanta.

Through 76 career games Belinelli owns a .397 mark from three-point range (69-for-174).  As a rookie he appeared in 33 games, averaging 2.9 points in 7.3 minutes.

Prior to joining the Warriors, the 23 year-old, 6-foot-5 guard from Bologna, Italy, played professionally in Italy for five seasons. In 33 games during the 2006-07 season with Fortitudo Bologna in Serie A, Belinelli averaged 16.4 points, while shooting .544 (99-for-182) from the field. In 13 Euroleague contests, he averaged 12.9 points on .438 (32-for-73) from the field.

Nets exercise three player options; decline Sean Williams option

Nets exercise three player options; decline Sean Williams option

The New Jersey Nets have exercised third year contract options on Courtney Lee and Brook Lopez, and a fourth year contract option on Yi Jianlian, while declining to pick up the fourth year contract option on Sean Williams, Nets President Rod Thorn announced today.  Lee, Lopez and Yi are now signed through the 2010-11 season.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

Lee was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft.  He was traded to New Jersey on June 25, 2009 along with Rafer Alston and Tony Battie for Ryan Anderson and Vince Carter.  The Western Kentucky product appeared in 77 games for Orlando last season, earning 42 starts.  He averaged 8.4 points while shooting .450 (243-540) from the field and .404 (82-203) from downtown, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 25.2 minutes per game.

Lopez was selected by the Nets in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft with the 10th overall pick.  He was the only Net to appear in all 82 games, earning 75 starts from 11/14 vs. ATL through 4/15 at NYK.  Lopez averaged 13.0 points (6th among rookies), 8.1 rebounds (2nd among rookies) and 1.84 blocks (9th in NBA, 1st among rookies) in 30.5 minutes per contest (7th among rookies).  He shot .531 (448-844) from the field (1st among rookies) and .793 (172-217) from the line (5th among rookies) while being selected to NBA All-Rookie First Team.  He finished third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting (Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo) and set the Nets all-time rookie blocks record with 151.  He recorded 55 games scoring in double figures, 13 games scoring 20+ points, one game scoring 30+ points, 23 games with 10+ rebounds and a Nets rookie center record 18 double-doubles.  The Stanford product led the Nets in scoring nine times, in rebounds 48 times and in blocks 57 times.

Yi was selected with the sixth pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by Milwaukee.  He was traded to New Jersey, along with Bobby Simmons, for Richard Jefferson on June 26, 2008.  During the 2008-09 campaign, Yi appeared in 61 games, earning 52 starts.  He averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per contest.  He shot .382 (191-500) from the field, .772 (95-123) from the line and .343 (48-140) from downtown.  The 7-foot forward recorded 23 games scoring in double figures, four games scoring 20+ points, four games with 10+ rebounds and three double-doubles.  He led the Nets in scoring three times, in rebounds 10 times, and in blocks nine times.  Yi missed 16 games with a broken fifth finger, right hand (1/12-2/10) which he suffered on 1/9/09 at Milwaukee.  Yi is a member of the Chinese National Team and competed in 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2004 games in Athens.

Sean Williams was selected 17th overall in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by New Jersey.  He appeared in 106 games over two seasons, averaging 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per contest.