Al Jefferson talked about how Deron Williams said he was going to make him an All-Star, and how he was going to fulfill his end of the bargain. Al Jefferson talked about coming in and making a difference. Al Jefferson sounded like the model off-season addition.
Then Al Jefferson showed up at 280 lbs. Which is, you know, kind of a lot.
Salt Lake City Tribune beat writer Brian T. Smith has been all over that story, and got the explanation Friday on why Jefferson’s a bit tubbo. Apparently, Al felt he was getting beaten up as a slender power forward, so he and Kevin O’Connor decided that bumping up to 275 would help him. Jefferson just overshot a bit, and that 5 pounds is quickly coming off during sprints.
Having heard the explanation, it really does make sense. Jefferson’s often criticized for his lack of defense and rebounding. And while there are plenty of good post players at 265, with Jefferson’s style, it’s possible adding the extra weight could genuinely help him out. The question now is if those hamburgers around his belly will slow him down in the pick and roll and in the post, where his agility was a huge asset for him. He needs to improve defensively in order to get to the next level.
But he can’t afford for his offense to dip. Jefferson’s walking a tightrope. We’ll see if he slips off the rope. But I can’t imagine Jerry Sloan will allow for him to keep the weight on if he’s struggling. And by allow, I mean “won’t physically run next to him for miles and miles and miles.”
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. However, those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and the team’s playoff chances have taken a serious hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers).
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and had said planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).