Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers

Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins out six weeks after surgery to repair groin injury


Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks will not be able to lean on Kendrick Perkins for the next six weeks — something that will be welcomed by a lot of Thunder fans. At least until they see the team is 0-3 without him this season and the defense suffers.

Perkins will be out up to six weeks following surgery to repair a strained groin suffered last Thursday night against the Heat, first reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman and now confirmed by the team.

Perkins was injured in the third quarter last Thursday and did not play Sunday against the Clippers, with rookie Steven Adams starting in his place. However, at crunch time at the end of the game Brooks went with a smaller lineup of Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher (the Clippers had a 13-2 run late to win that game).

Brooks has leaned on Perkins against lineups where he has nobody to really guard (the Miami Heat small lineup being the most obvious), much to the frustration of fans. Brooks goes back to Perkins at the end of games giving the opposing team an obvious guy to help off of (and a guy near the basket making it easier for the opposing big to protect the rim).

The knock on Perkins is what he does to the Thunder offense — they go from scoring 110.1 points per 100 possessions when he is sitting on the bench to 102.7 when he is on the court (because he is not a weapon, despite the fact the Thunder force feed him a few post possessions early every game). The Thunder defense gets a little worse, one point per 100, when he sits, but that doesn’t compensate for the offense. Bottom line, the Thunder and 8.2 points per 100 better with him on the bench.

That said, you can’t just plug someone in for Perkins and make it work, it’s not an accident they are 0-3 without him.. This season when you sub in Adams for Perkins with the rest of the Thunder’s usual starting five (Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Durant and Ibaka) the Thunder get 14.2 points per 100 possessions worse, mostly because their defense gives up 122 points per 100 possessions (this would be small sample size theater, as Adams has only played 82 minutes with that group). Adams has a chance here, but he is inexperienced and that shows at times, something that will cost the Thunder as he learns.

Perkins has a role on this team and in certain matchups can be crucial. The good news is this injury will force Brooks to go away from his crutch and find other rotations that work for Oklahoma City, something that can benefit them in the playoffs.

But it’s not as simple as saying Oklahoma City is better without Perkins. Reality is more nuanced than that.

Before season starts, watch top 10 dunks of preseason

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Starting Tuesday night, the games matter. The dunks matter.

But before we move onto those dunks, let’s have some fun with the top 10 dunks of the meaningless preseason. They may not matter, but they certainly were fun.

Of course there are some expected highlights — can you have a dunk reel without Russell Westbrook? — but game-winning dunks always get the top slot.

Carmelo Anthony says rather than take knee during Anthem he wants action in communities

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Cleveland Cavaliers during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick certainly fired up a discussion — not always the conversation he intended, but a discussion of the treatment of African-Americans in our society was part of that conversation.

No NBA player has taken that same step through the preseason, taking a knee during the national anthem (only anthem singers have done that). Some teams are locking arms during the anthem in a show of solidarity, but they stand in two orderly rows.

Carmelo Anthony explained in an interview with Bleacher Report that what he and many others want to see is the next step in Kaepernick’s protest — action in the community.

“I’m past the gestures,” New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told B/R Mag. “I’m past that. It’s all about creating things now and putting things in motion. So, that’s what I’m on. I’m trying to get guys on board with that and help them understand that—enough of the gesturing and talking and all of that stuff—we need to start putting things in place….

“He’s done it,” Anthony said of Kaepernick. “He was courageous enough to do that. He created that. He created the kneeling and that protest. And people fell in line with that. Some people supported it. Some people didn’t. But at the end of the day, and I’m not taking nothing away from him…I just don’t think the gesturing is creating anything. I think it’s bringing awareness, but I think doing stuff and creating awareness in the communities [is more effective].”

What are those things? Players, the players’ union, the NBA itself, and it’s teams are all working to figure that out. This is not something where one blanket program fits all — what is needed in communities in New York is different from the needs in Milwaukee, is different from the needs in Sacramento. This needs to be local, with players involved.

There have already been some steps. The Bulls held a basketball tournament between police and a mentoring agency, which was followed by a panel discussion. Dwyane Wade biked with police through Miami. The Grizzlies have revived the Police Athletic League in Memphis. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are teams from New Orleans to Los Angeles are working to bring youth and police together to talk.

It’s a start. A good start.

There is no one magic gesture, no one simple measure that can heal the deep divides in our nation right now. There are no easy answers, and as a nation we can be too dependent on easy answers. We need to listen. We need to talk to each other, not at each other. We need to practice empathy.

NBA players can help lead that effort, that conversation. It would be the next step after a protest — to act on those steps. Good on Anthony and the NBA for attempting to go down that road.


Rockets change from earlier reports, waive Pablo Prigioni, keep Tyler Ennis

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 17:  Pablo Prigioni #9 of the Houston Rockets celebrates in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets traded for Tyler Ennis., sending Michael Beasley away in the deal.

Which is why it was a bit of a surprise on Monday when early reports had the Rockets waiving Ennis, but either the report was off or the Rockets changed their minds.

With Patrick Beverley out injured, this leaves the Rockets thin at the traditional point guard spot. However, in practice James Harden, Eric Gordon and others will initiate Mike D’Antoni’s offense, so the bigger challenge will be defensively. Prigioni was not much help there at this point in his career.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a team snaps up Prigioni as insurance, or he certainly can make money overseas. Prigioni played last season as a backup point guard for the Clippers.

Want some dance lessons from Hassan Whiteside? We got that.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Miami’s Hassan Whiteside is a lot of things: An elite shot blocker, up-and-coming NBA star who worked hard for the right to be that, a Heat cornerstone.

Dance instructor?

I’m not sold, but he’s showing off his groove in this Twitter video.

When you get a $98.6 million contract, you can do whatever you want. So he can be a dance if he wants to.