From Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears:
Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins doesn’t want to hear anything aboutRussell Westbrook’s shot count or his drop in assists or his occasional arguments with Kevin Durant. The only thing Perkins sees in Westbrook is an All-Star point guard who has helped lead the Thunder to the NBA’s best record.
“He always gets this label of being selfish,” Perkins said. “He’s not that at all. The one thing about Russ is he’s a scoring point guard, and that’s what we need him to be. That’s why this team has been successful because he does what he does.
“The thing that bothers me … is Derrick Rose is not a true point guard, he is a scoring point guard, but nobody gets on Derrick Rose like they get on Russ.”
Perkins makes some interesting points (no pun intended), but two major things work against Westbrook in this argument: First of all, Rose is the more efficient scorer of the two point guards: The reigning MVP’s True Shooting percentage is 55.8% to Westbrook’s 52.4%, and Westbrook turns the ball over more frequently than Rose does. Secondly, Derrick Rose doesn’t have anyone nearly as talented as Kevin Durant, who is one of the most prolific and most efficient scorers in the game, to pass the ball to.
Still, Perkins’ larger argument is probably more right than wrong: Westbrook and Rose are asked to play similar roles for their teams, are both considered franchise players by their teams, and their teams have the best records in their respective conferences. Both players should probably be above nit-picking when the things they’re doing are clearly working for their teams right now.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.
Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):
This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.
Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.
He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.
Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.
So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency
Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.
There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.
Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.