Kendrick Perkins brings big, bad screens to Thunder offense

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Ron Artest hounds Kevin Durant like few defenders in the league. Durant’s preferred catch-and-shoot is often taken away and Durant has to put the ball on the floor more (which he did well getting into the lane Sunday in the Thunder’s win).

But Durant got some better looks Sunday because of the offensive contributions of Kendrick Perkins. Yes. Perkins.

Because Perkins sets a bigger, better screen than anyone else on the Thunder.

“He’s strong, a wide base,” Durant told PBT after the game. “He set one on Artest and I seen Artest grimace a little bit, and that’s the first time I’ve seen that from him. That was a great screen and he’s been setting those ever since he’s been here to get me a lot of open looks, and it’s also been getting my teammates open looks. If I get the basketball on a screen-and-roll he opens it up for everybody.

“He’s helping us out in a lot of different ways you don’t see in the stat sheet.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks echoed that, saying that the Thunder get some better looks with Perkins on the floor because of his screens and having players like Durant and Russell Westbrook that don’t need much space to create quality shots.

When the Thunder got Perkins it was to protect the rim and defend, to rebound, to scowl and intimidate. Or as Perkins said after the Lakers win, they told him to be himself. And that has worked — the Thunder are still a young and fun locker room, but with a year of playoff experience and Perkins, the vibe now is decidedly more serious than a year ago. All the Thunder are trying out some scowls. Well, almost.

“My scowl? I leave that up to him,” Durant said.

Any offense the Thunder got from Perkins was considered a bonus. Perkins is not that dangerous on the roll part of the pick-and-roll, and that could be an issue down the line. Against a team like the Lakers it should allow Andrew Bynum to freelance more as a help defender. But if the pick itself creates enough space for Durant and Westbrook to do their thing, that may not matter.

Either way, just don’t say Perkins doesn’t bring anything to the Thunder’s offense.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.