Kevin Durant is going to come back a better player next season.
The NBA’s MVP works hard in the off-season to add parts to his game, for example his handles improved, he picked up Dirk Nowitzki’s one-legged fade-away and more. When asked at his exit interview what he would do this year, Durant was vague saying he wanted to improve his overall game.
Kendrick Perkins had a specific idea for KD — add some muscle. Hit the weight room and get stronger. To help his defense, to help his low post game, to help get through the grind of the long season. Perkins explained his logic to Darnell Mayberry at the Oklahoman.
“I feel like he could get stronger, in my opinion,” Perkins said. “I think that would help him a lot. I told him all the good and great players that played the game, from Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, they all put size on them, and it helped them….
“Seems like there was possessions he was tired,” Perkins said of Durant. “But, like I said, I think that’s (when) getting in the weight room plays a factor. Cause then you could let your body take over.”
Would adding muscle help his post game? There is no part of Durant’s offensive game that is weak and that includes the post — he got 9.1 percent of his used possessions there and shot 47 percent, scoring 1.03 points per possession, and he didn’t turn the ball over much (stats via Synergy Sports). He was good on the block. Maybe he could be a little better if he were stronger and could overpower people a little more, but Durant is not at the point in his career where he needs to go to the post much yet. He is still incredibly dangerous on the wing.
But the idea that adding some muscle would help him through the grind of a season where every defense is targeting him makes some sense. Durant has added 25 pounds since he came into the league, according to Mayberry, but there is certainly room to add more.
Just something to watch this summer. Whatever he does, when Durant comes back next season you can be sure his game will have improved.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.
The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.
Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.
The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.
The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.
They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.
So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.
And now he’ll add even less.
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.
Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.
The Bulls reportedly reached out to the 76ers about Jahlil Okafor a few weeks ago.
After unfulfilled intrigue and maybe a trade that fell through, Okafor remains in Philadelphia. And Chicago apparently still wants him.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
As constituted, the Bulls already have a few interior bigs: Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio. But one or more could go in an Okafor trade or another deal.
Okafor would make the Chicago younger, confusing its direction with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade already in place.
Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.
Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.
The 76ers have played like a 64-win team when Joel Embiid and Ersan Ilyasova share the court and a 20-win team otherwise, using data from nbawowy!.
That’s helpful for Philadelphia, which is learning what type of player — a stretch four — works best with its franchise player.
But the Hawks can use more than just a lesson in the idea of Ersan Ilyasova. They can use actual Ersan Ilyasova.
And Atlanta will get him.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated:
Atlanta stills sound intent on keeping Paul Millsap, so Ilyasova will likely back him up. Ilyasova should work particularly well with Dwight Howard, whose interior play was a key factor in ushering in this stretch-four era by covering for the lighter power forward next to him.
In the last 21 months, Ilyasova has been traded five times: from the Bucks to the Pistons to the Magic to the Thunder to the 76ers and now to the Hawks. They can probably count on the veteran to settle in quickly as they try to improve their position in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Atlanta is fifth, closer to third than sixth.
Both Ilyasova and Splitter have expiring contracts. The advantage of Splitter, who has missed the Hawks’ last 90 games, is that his full compensation counts toward the floor apparently without Philadelphia actually having to play all of his salary.
Plus, those picks could help the 76ers in a season where they can win something meaningful — like the Hawks have decided this season is for them.