Former NBA basketball player Kidd poses for photographers with Brooklyn Nets player Williams at a news conference in Brooklyn

Jason Kidd wants Deron Williams to average double-digit assists next season


In his first year as an NBA head coach, it isn’t surprising that Jason Kidd will want to have an impact on the point guard position of the team he’ll now be running while wearing a suit on the sidelines.

Kidd, one of the game’s historically great point guards in his playing days, has set a goal to have double-digit assists generated from that position, which will directly impact the game of Nets point guard Deron Williams.

From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

“I’m going to push him. I want the best for him,” Kidd said after signing autographs at the Nets’ merchandise store in Coney Island. “When we sit down and talk about goals, team goals and also individual goals, I’m going to push him and I want to get him back to double-digit assists.”

Williams hasn’t averaged at least 10 assists since 2010-11, which represented the fourth straight season he eclipsed that mark. Last season’s 7.7 assists per game was Williams’ lowest output since he was a rookie.  And as the assist numbers dipped in the last two seasons, so did Williams’ shooting percentage.

But there was a tangible turning point, which Kidd referenced Sunday. After undergoing multiple procedures to his inflamed ankles during the All-Star break, Williams dropped about 15 pounds by changing his diet and exercise routine.

Williams is certainly capable of hitting that mark — he averaged better than 10 assists per game in four of his seasons with the Utah Jazz, and averaged a career-best 12.8 assists in his first 12 games as a member of the Nets in 2011.

Health is always the biggest factor in an All-Star player like Williams’ ability to put up numbers, but assuming he’s 100 percent next season and not bothered by the ankles, Kidd could tailor the offense to make it so that his point guard is looking to pass more than he is to score — especially with new weapons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in place in the team’s starting lineup.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.