Brandon Knight blames Pistons for his low assist total

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Brandon Jennings, now the the Pistons’ point guard, blamed the Bucks for his subpar shooting percentage.

Now, Brandon Knight, the player traded for Jennings, is bringing it full circle by blaming the Pistons for his subpar assist numbers.

(As you’ll see, Knight says he’s not blaming anyone. But when you start a sentence, “I’m not trying to blame anybody, but,” you’re blaming someone 100 percent of the time).

Gery Woelfel of RacineSportsZone.com:

Knight averaged a mere four assists a game while playing for the Detroit Pistons last season. That tied him for 38th place in the NBA. Not good.

But Knight insists that stat is rather deceiving.

“I’m not trying to blame anybody,” Knight said while carefully choosing his words. “But the team we had … It was a tough situation.

“When you have shooters, it’s easy to get assists because they’re going to knock down open shots. We had, maybe, one (Kyle Singler) knock-down shooter.

“And I didn’t have any bigs who could stop and pop. The only one we had was Charlie Villanueva and he didn’t play much. And, when he did play, he was with the second unit so I wasn’t playing much with him.”

Assists come from running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond (60.8 percent shooter last season), but Knight couldn’t do that consistently.

Assists come from throwing entry passes to Greg Monroe (48.6 percent shooter last season), but Knight couldn’t do that consistently.

Assists come from driving and kicking to Jose Calderon (52.7 percent shooter with the Pistons last season), but Knight couldn’t do that consistently.

The Pistons didn’t have a good offense last season, and that’s not all Knight’s fault. But there were enough players other than Singler and Villanueva capable of turning Knight’s passes into baskets.

Woelfel:

But that wasn’t the sole reason, Knight says, for his subpar assist numbers last season. He points out that, contrary to public perception, he wasn’t strictly a point guard. He also spent a considerable amount of time at the shooting guard spot.

“In the first half of the season, I was playing the point guard position; in the second half, I played off the ball,” said the 21-year-old Knight, whom the Bucks acquired July 30 from the Pistons in a trade for disgruntled Brandon Jennings. “So, of course, my assists are going to go down. A lot of people outside looking in … they look at the stats. But a lot of them didn’t know that.

This is a chicken-or-the-egg argument. From my perspective, the Pistons shifted Knight off the ball (by trading for Calderon) because Knight couldn’t handle full-time point-guard duties.

I don’t think Knight is an unwilling passer. I think he was an incapable passer. He just didn’t see the floor well enough the last two seasons to justify leading an NBA offense.

Knight, 21, is still young, and he can improve. It seems the Bucks support him and will make him their starting point guard. It could work, but it would mean Knight has improved as a passer – not just gotten a new set of teammates.

Klay Thompson goes up for 360 dunk in exhibition… and he’s not a dunker (VIDEO)

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Klay Thompson has an amazing skill set — one of the best pure shooters in the league, he can put the ball on the floor and create, and he’s a very good perimeter defender.

He’s not a dunker. Oh, he can dunk, but he’s not the guy you’re inviting to the Dunk Contest.

Case in point, this video out of China where Thompson was part of an exhibition and tried to show off his dunking skills.

Thompson’s shoe sponsor is China-based Anta, which explains why he’s there playing some exhibition ball. In case you missed it, Thompson had a Finals shoe released.

Those are about as good as the 360 dunk.

Sixers will talk contract extension for Joel Embiid this summer, want to lock him up

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Could Joel Embiid be Philadelphia’s Stephen Curry?

No, I don’t mean taking 30-foot bombs that demoralize opponents (although, no doubt Embiid is game for trying it). I mean in having a contract extension off his rookie deal for less than the max, a value contract that allows the Sixers the cap room to secure a title contender around him.

After three seasons in the NBA, Joel Embiid is eligible for a contract extension this summer (one that would be negotiated now but not kick in until the 2018-19 season). Teams lock up their stars at this point, and Embiid is that — he was dominant in the 31 games he played. But it’s 31 games in three seasons, how much do the Sixers want to pay here?

Sixers owner Joshua Harris said extending Embiid is a priority for the team this summer, speaking at a press conference, via the Courier Times.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

A max contract for Embiid would be five years at about $130 million, an average annual salary of $26 million. Because of his injury history, would he be willing to sign five years at $100 million, maybe with an opt-out after four? That extra cap space may not sound like a lot, it’s not a Curry-level savings, but it would help the Sixers’ team building.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by Oct. 31 (the deadline), Embiid will play out this season then be a restricted free agent next season. If he stays healthy, he will get a max deal from another team that the Sixers would just match (the Sixers and Embiid could also reach a deal).

The Sixers are not about to let Embiid go, they have their young core they believe they can contend with in a few years. Plus he is a fan favorite. The only question left is cost.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.