Durant defends his shot volume and why it’s not higher

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Monday night in a loss to San Antonio, Kevin Durant hit 7-of-13 shots on his way to 26 points. Russell Westbrook on the other hand put up 27 shots (including a ridiculous half-court shot trying to draw a foul), hit 11, and finished with an inefficient 25 points.

Tuesday that brought up the same old “why doesn’t Kevin Durant get more shots?” discussion. As noted by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Thunder are on pace to become the second team ever to have the scoring champion take the second most shots on his own team. Thank you Westbrook.

Durant said it’s not about the number of shots, it’s about making the right basketball play, via the Oklahoman.

“I can do whatever I want on the offensive end,” Durant said. “I can come down and take 30 shots. That’s not the right brand of basketball for me, to just come down and shoot. It’s not because of the defense limiting me to 13 shots. I could have shot more than that, but I was trying to make the right basketball play.”

We should add in Durant’s defense here he got to the free throw line 11 times, he made plays that didn’t count as shot attempts.

Sometimes as fans we have a sense that our stars must play a certain way — Jordan took over games, Kobe Bryant willingly takes over games, why won’t Kevin Durant? (Remember LeBron James used to hear the same thing.) But Durant is not Kobe nor does he want to be.

Durant is right that for the Thunder to take the next step it can’t be about him jacking up more shots, his buckets need to come out of the flow of the offense. Teams are going to work to not let the best pure scorer in the game get easy looks and the Thunder as a team have to make them pay with ball movement and other guys scoring.

There needs to be a balance. Westbrook needs to pick his spots better on when to shoot and when to set up Durant and others, and frankly he has been better this year. He wasn’t against the Spurs.

The bottom line is Durant and Westbrook remain one of the best combinations in the NBA, two guys under age 25 who led their team to the NBA finals. They are a team on the cusp of a title, a true contender. The loss Monday was one March game. Don’t go overboard with your reactions in OKC. Especially to the Spurs game, which was the Thunder’s fifth game in seven days. Move on.

Are Bulls and Dwyane Wade moving toward a buyout?

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About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.

Have the two sides progressed since?

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.

Expected by whom?

People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?

Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?

For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.

A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.

LeBron James’ camp already shooting down leaving-Cavaliers rumor

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LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers

Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.

New Orleans Saints fire Pelicans’ team physician

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The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.

Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.

But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.

Mike Triplett of ESPN:

The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion

Suri is a Pelicans team physician.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.

Rumor: LeBron James ‘100 percent’ leaving Cavaliers next summer

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Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.

But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.

So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.

But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.

Sheridan:

Of course, the denials came quickly.

There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.

It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.

But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.

Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.

Neither possibility should be discounted.