Remember how at the NBA Draft Combine Kevin Durant couldn’t bench press the 185 pound bar even once? That led some pundits to suggest he would get pushed around like a rag doll and struggle to find his game in an NBA made up of strong men.
Turns out, while the bench press may be a valuable test for future NFL offensive linemen, it’s not a great predictor of your ability to shoot the basketball. Or really do much of anything on a basketball court. To be fair, Durant’s thin frame did has to him being pushed around some on the court, he can’t hold his position well and has to give up a lot of position to get possession of the ball.
But that may changing, along with Durant’s body, reports Darnell Mayberry at the Oklahoman. You’re not going to confuse him for a football player out of the University of Texas, but he is getting bigger.
From his lower body, through his midsection on up to where it’s as clear as ever — his upper body — Durant has bulked up. As with everything else that defines his skills, Durant isn’t overly interested in discussing the matter. That he said as much as he did hints that he has indeed gotten stronger and is darn proud of it.
“I hope so,” Durant said when told he looks bigger and asked if he got stronger over the offseason. “I guess we’ll know when we start banging during the season. But I feel a little bigger, and coach is going to put me down low a little bit more at the 4, so I’ve got to be stronger to guard those guys. I’m just looking forward to doing as much as I can to help this team.”
Durant at the four suggests the Thunder learned some lessons from the NBA finals, when LeBron James was a beast at the four spot. Durant and LeBron’s physiques and games are different, but the basic idea of a matchup nightmare for the other team at he four is there. The Thunder are going to play small at times.
Either way Durant is a stud. If you don’t take him in the top two in your fantasy draft, you’re a fool. It doesn’t really matter what position he plays.
Miami felt set at point guard with Goran Dragic starting and the up-and-coming Tyler Johnson as his backup. They decided veteran Beno Udrih wasn’t part of the future and waived him.
Detroit, looking for some help at the one until Reggie Jackson returns, saw a dependable veteran guard on the market. So they snapped him up, reports Shams Charnaria of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
At age 34 we are seeing Ulrich’s game start to slip. Still, he has valuable NBA skills as a point guard: he doesn’t turn the ball over, can run an offense, and if you ignore him coming off a pick he will bury the shot.
Jackson is expected to be out at least another six weeks after getting PRP therapy to deal with knee tendonitis (he hopes to be back sooner). That leaves Ish Smith as the starting point guard in the short term; Udrih will help provide solid depth at the position.
The Pistons need to keep their heads above water until Jackson can return.
The first 12 years of the NBA’s salary-cap era went without a lockout. The league again avoided a lockout for a dozen straight years between 1999 to 2011.
Now, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming soon, the NBA is setting itself up for another 12 years of labor peace.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are working on a seven-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, with a mutual opt-out in six years, league sources told The Vertical.
The seven-year deal could potentially deliver the NBA labor peace through the 2023-24 season, unless the opt-outs are exercised in 2022, league sources told The Vertical.
The new CBA will begin with the 2017-18 season.
Expect an opt out after six years. By then, there’s usually something to renegotiate.
Hope for another quick resolution, like we’re getting now.
And if neither the owners nor players opt out, be pleasantly surprised at an unprecedented 13th straight year without a lockout in this era.
The Rockets entered the day with five point guards with guaranteed salaries: James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Pablo Prigioni, Tyler Ennis and Gary Payton II.
That seemed like too many, but Houston had just 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. There didn’t seem to be urgency to drop a player with a guaranteed deal.
Yet, the Rockets will drop two.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has waived guard/forward P.J. Hairston, forward Le’Bryan Nash, and guard Gary Payton II.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Barring another move, this opens the door for Houston to keep Bobby Brown (whose biggest impact in the preseason was causing an international incident) and Kyle Wiltjer, a stretch big who went undrafted out of Gonzaga.
The Rockets come out behind in their trade for Ennis. They have could have just waived the player they dealt, a lower-paid Michael Beasley, and saved a little money.
Payton, undrafted out of Oregon State, is an intriguing project. But Brown is probably more capable of helping now, a bigger factor for that roster spot with Beverley injured.
The Thunder waived a former No. 21 pick who still had two years left on his rookie-scale contract and a 33-year-old journeyman.
The latter was the surprise.
The Oklahoma City Thunder waived forwards Mitch McGary and Chris Wright along with guard Ronnie Price and center Kaleb Tarczewski, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.
At this point, Oklahoma City waiving Mitch McGary was completely expected. Facing 15 games of drug suspension with no proven track record of NBA sustainability, McGary was an easy cut on a team with a roster crunch.
Price signed a fully guaranteed two-year contract worth nearly $5 million this offseason, and teams don’t generally waive players so soon after guaranteeing them multiple seasons (even if guaranteeing them multiple seasons was questionable in the first place). This opens the door not only for Semaj Christon to make the regular-season roster, but to serve as Russell Westbrook‘s primary backup at point guard with Cameron Payne injured.
Christon, the No. 55 pick in the 2014 draft, also signed this summer (with just a $200,000 guarantee). After leaving Xavier, he spent a year on the Thunder’s D-League affiliate then a year overseas. Perhaps, he’s ready for a regular role without the safety net of a veteran like Price behind him, but this sure seems like another case of Oklahoma City overrating its developmental system. See previously: Josh Huestis.