It’s a good chance Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant won’t consider signing with the Dallas Mavericks when he becomes a free agent this summer.
And it’s a good chance Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook likely won’t consider the Mavericks as a destination when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2017.
Prior to Oklahoma City eliminating the Dallas Mavericks from the playoffs Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, owner Mark Cuban said he considered Durant as a superstar, but he didn’t consider Westbrook as a superstar.
"They’ve got one superstar (in Kevin Durant), and he plays like it and he’s good,’’ Cuban said. "Russell is certainly an All-Star, but I consider Durant a superstar.’’
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That touched off a firestorm among the Thunder that seemed to carry throughout Monday’s game.
In the postgame interview room after the Thunder ended the Mavs’ season with a 118-104 victory, Westbrook was asked about Cuban’s comments. But Durant intervened and said of Cuban: "He’s an idiot. Don’t listen to him. He’s an idiot. That’s what we’ve got to say about that.’’
Even Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who watched his own superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, score 24 points on Monday, had to tip his hat to both Westbrook and Durant, who helped eliminate the Mavericks 4-1 in this best-of-seven series.
Especially since Westbrook finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists and Durant added 33 points and seven boards.
"There’s three superstars out there -- Westbrook, Durant and Nowitzki,’’ Carlisle said. "Dirk’s an all-time great player, that’s been proven.
"Both Durant and Westbrook are destined. I just think they’re that good.’’
Nowitzki also thinks Westbrook has superstar skills.
"I’ll take him,’’ Nowitzki said. "I’ll definitely take him.
"I think the whole league knows when he makes a pull-up, it’s pretty much unguardable. He can drive left, he can go right, he can finish at the rim, probably the best offensive rebounding guard the league has ever seen. If he makes that pull-up behind the screen, you high-five him and tell him good game.’’
Thunder coach Billy Donovan is certainly delighted to have Westbrook running his offense.
"I wouldn’t trade him for anybody,’’ Donovan said. "There’s no question Russell Westbrook is one of the best players in the league.’’
Westbrook led the NBA with 18 triple-doubles this season. But Cuban noted that when Durant missed 55 games last season with a foot injury, Westbrook failed to lead the Thunder to the playoffs.
"Dirk, for 15 years, won 50 games no matter what,’’ Cuban said. "We put Moe, Larry and Curly next to him and he won 50 games.’’
Cuban went on to share his definition of a superstar.
"When you look at Dirk, all those year until now, he carried teams to 50 wins,’’ Cuban said. "To me, that’s the sign of a superstar when you by yourself (win 50 games).’’
Not analysis mattered not to Donovan.
"I’m happy I get to see him compete,’’ Donovan said of Westbrook. "To me, he’s a superstar as good as anybody in the league.’’