NBA: Milos Raonic says LA Lakers are not championship contenders, Kevin Durant hates transfer talk and more

Barely a week into the new NBA season, it already seems like we have seen everything! Superstar match-ups, punch-ups, shoving, spitting, ejections! Alright, all of that happened in just one match, but the rest of the week has been equally eventful.

Here's a round-up of all the action from the first week of the 2018-19 NBA season:

Kevin Durant is sick of talking about free agency! No really!

File image of Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant. AP Photo

File image of Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant. AP Photo

It doesn't matter that the 2019 free agency is many, many months away. Or that the new NBA season has just begun. The one question that seemed to stalk Kevin Durant all through the week was about the impending free agency. It crept up on him at press conferences. It poked its head out of his Twitter mentions. Hell, it probably even accosted KD at his hotel room (although this could not be verified). So strong has the speculation been that even the order of Warriors players being given last season's Championships rings at the Oracle Arena sparked a conversation that Durant was being courted by his current team to stay.

Durant himself spoke up finally — when asked about it for the umpteenth time — if only to issue a rebuke to a reporter.

"I just want people to focus on basketball. I know it's hard to keep up with it. But wait until the season is over with to analyse free agency. I know you have to still do your job and check on stuff like that, but every day? Every city I go to? Come on, man... I understand your job, but let's come to a little agreement. Don't ask me every time you see me. If it's the first time I'm seeing y'all, I don't mind answering. But every time? Come on, bro," Durant told Yahoo Sports.

LA Lakers are not a Championship contender this season: Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic currently occupies the 20th spot in the ATP rankings. But he could very well the top-ranked tennis-playing NBA fan at the moment. The Ontario native is a very vocal fan of the Raptors and is understandably excited by the twist of fate which has brought the immensely talented Kawhi Leonard to the door of the Raptors.

In a special interview before the season started, Raonic spoke about the league, his favourite team the Raptors, and how LeBron James' move changes the dynamics of the league.

"The Lakers are not a Championship team at least this season," he says.

The Canadian tennis ace also had an interesting take on the move. "LeBron's move is great, as it creates excitement around the league. In the future, this will revive the rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers. Also because of the backstory between Kyrie (Irving) and LeBron. Both teams are definitely on their way up in the future years.

"The Celtics are set to do much better especially with LeBron out of the East. The real question is, who's coming second after the Warriors (in the West). They made their team better. But the biggest cause for their downfall could be that they have had a bigger season than others."

You can hear the whole interview here:

How good is Anthony Davis?

Who would you say is the second best active basketball player in the world? Kevin Durant? James Harden? Steph Curry? Did someone in New Orleans say Anthony Davis?

Well you're not the only one. Just earlier this week, the legendary NBA great Charles Barkley threw his weight behind Davis as the second-best basketball player in the world right now.

To be fair to Barkley, Davis has so far justified his claim. He first helped the Pelicans obliterate the Rockets 131-112 by dropping 32 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, not to mention his three steals and three blocks on the night. Then, against the Sacramento Kings, he scored 25 points to help his side win by 20 points.

LeBron James 0-2 Western Conference

Two games are too inconsequential a barometer for most things, but LeBron James' move to the West has now seen him taste defeat twice in as many games. The first was a sound defeat to Portland Trail Blazers, before the Los Angeles franchise crumbled on home court against the Houston Rockets. While the team's perimeter shooting has been woefully exposed, LeBron has given a good account of himself in both games, scoring 26 and 24 points. But the question remains: if the Lakers continue to play like this, will LeBron again have to drag another team to the Playoffs by himself? In the wild Western Conference, he may struggle to do it as easily as he did in the East. Yet, as LeBron told a British journalist on being asked what people could expect this season, 'Expect greatness'.

Kawhi's still got it, Cavs…not so much

Kawhi Leonard may have made it to the court for just nine games in the 2017-18 season and may or may not have had a quad injury — which soured his relationship with the Spurs — but he turned up in the colours of his new franchise, Toronto Raptors, all guns blazing. He dropped 31 points and racked up 10 rebounds against Boston Celtics in their second match after a 24-point game against the Cavaliers in their opener. He was rested — understandably — against the Wizards on Sunday, but the Canadian team were good enough to pull through to their third victory in as many games without Leonard.

On the other end of the spectrum were the Cleveland Cavaliers, the erstwhile stomping ground of LeBron. With the superstar having moved West, the franchise decided to revolve the team around Kevin Love. He scored 21 points and had seven rebounds in their first game against the Raptors, while Cedi 'new LeBron' Osman added 17 points and 10 boards. However, it wasn't enough as the Cavs lost. Their second match against the Timberwolves went no better — a 123-131 defeat pointing glaringly at the LeBron sized hole in their ranks.

Has Jimmy Butler redeemed himself?

Want-away superstar Jimmy Butler was greeted by a loud chorus of boos when he took to the court against the Cavaliers in the Minnesota Timberwolves' second game. The Wolves fans booed Butler, who had brazenly angled for a move away from the franchise in the preseason, every time he touched the ball until he stole a pass and fed Taj Gibson for a dunk in the first quarter. That moment immediately changed something. The crowd at the Target Center roared its approval and there were even stray chants of "MVP! MVP! MVP!" as Butler scored 33 in just 36 minutes on the court.

Highlight of the week

This has been an exciting week with some great basketball all around. But what will usurp the limelight for the next few days at least will be the punch-up that marred LeBron's first home game for the Lakers. The brawl was sparked by Brandon Ingram shoving James Harden late in the fourth quarter. This led to Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul squaring up both throwing punches at each other. There are claims that Rondo spit at Paul. This led to Rondo, Paul and Ingram being ejected and the trio will also cop a heavy fine. But their exertions have led to some truly engrossing footage.


Updated Date: Nov 04, 2018 20:04 PM

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