Kevin Durant is currently playing for the U.S. at the London Olympics. (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON -- Slowly but surely, NBA players' opinions are coming out about the Dwight Howard trade.
After a slew of "no comments" Friday, Team USA players were more open Saturday to analyzing the Lakers' part in the 12-player, four-team deal.
"That's what the Lakers do," Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant said. "They have great management and ownership to make those moves come to life."
Is Oklahoma City still the team to beat in the Western Conference?
"You never know, but we feel confident about ourselves," Durant said. "The Lakers, we always respect them. We always have battles with them. I'm sure it's going to be even more fun this upcoming season when we play against those guys."
Oklahoma City looked like it would own the West for years to come thanks to its stable of under-24 players. Friday’s deal might have changed that.
"Was I surprised? No," Thunder guard James Hardensaid. "Big market. The Lakers always do a great job of getting good players. It doesn't take away from us at all."
Same question: Is Oklahoma City still the team to beat?
"Of course," Harden said.
Miami forward LeBron James still refused to comment about the trade.
More opinions will surface eventually, but so far there hasn't been the backlash that accompanied the Chris Paul trade that was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern last December.
Nor has there been public griping from San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich … yet.
Popovich famously said that a trade committee should be created to review all NBA deals after the Lakers turned Kwame Brown into Pau Gasol in a 2008 trade.
Carmelo Anthony knows a thing or two about blockbuster trades after being sent from Denver to New York last year.
"It definitely gives them that presence once again," he said. "It definitely makes them another powerhouse in the West or in the NBA as a whole. Right now, it's just a matter of them putting it together to see what happens."
Durant, in the end, sympathized with Howard, whose trade demands hurt his image in Orlando, if not elsewhere.
"Dwight's a good guy, man," Durant said. "The stuff that people were saying about him as far as him wanting to get traded, he's a good guy. I'm glad that he can rest his head at night knowing where he was going to play next season."
Paul probably said it best.
"You knew it was going to happen sooner or later," he said. "They lost a dominant big man and got another one."
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