Brandon Knight

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.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.