In the opening minutes of Oklahoma City’s game Tuesday night in Sacramento, Kevin Durant caught a pass at the right elbow, dribbled across the lane and drained a little 12-foot fade away. Like it was nothing.
With that Durant scored his 15,001st NBA point — at age 26 he is the second fastest to cross that milestone (to answer your question, LeBron James).
Durant is an effortless scorer. He has the handles to create space and he needs just a little, and being 6′ 10″ with freakishly long arms he can shoot over pretty much anyone. He can score in the post but has range out to well beyond the three point line. The bottom line is he scores a lot but he still does it efficiently.
We all marveled at Kobe Bryant passing Michael Jordan on the all-time NBA scoring list this week. If you’re looking for a player who could join that rarified air someday, Durant is your guy.
The Cleveland Cavaliers need some help at the two-guard spot. Dion Waiters simply is not a good fit with the other starters — switch Shawn Marion into the starting lineup instead of Waiters and the lineup gets 14.9 points per 100 possessions better (stats via NBA.com). So they continue to play Marion out of position starting at the two.
Which is why the Cavaliers wanted to trade for Corey Brewer out of Minnesota. But those talks are basically dead right now, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
To upgrade the position, Cleveland was in talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves for Corey Brewer, but those conversations have subsided. As of now, a rash of injuries has deterred Minnesota from handing over their best perimeter defender.
The Cavaliers have moved on and covet Portland’s Wesley Mathews, Haynes reports, but there is pretty close to zero chance the Trail Blazers are giving him up (why would they break up their team exactly?).
The Houston Rockets have not moved on, they re still trying to swing a deal for Brewer, reports Daren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com in Minnesota.
If the Timberwolves are not listening to the Cavs overtures for Brewer, they are not likely to listen to Rockets right now. The same concerns of injuries still apply.
But at some point before the trade deadline they will start to listen. And then act.
It wasn’t going to be easy for Ronny Turiaff to get minutes this season in Minnesota anyway. Nikola Pekovic was starting and the team rightfully is high on Gorgui Dieng behind him. Turiaf was in the third slot. But with Pekovic out much of the season (and likely not back until after the first of the year) there were minutes to be had.
But Turiaff couldn’t get healthy enough to take advantage. He’s battled a hip issue all season, only 19 minutes total from two games, and now he has undergone surgery to correct the hip problem, the team announced Tuesday.
Look for the Timberwolves to cut Turiaf loose at some point so they can free up a roster spot, reports Jerry Zgoda at the Star Tribune.
Turiaf’s contract — with a $1.6 million salary — expires after this season. (Timberwolves GM) Flip Saunders said this morning the team would waive Turiaf and pay him his remaining owed money “if there’s the right person available.”
That could be just keeping around forward Jeff Adrien, whose current 10-day roster exception spot runs through Friday. Or it could be a guard such as D League sharpshooter Brady Heslip, who was with the Wolves in training camp.
This saddens me as Turiaf is one of my personal favorite players around the league. You have to love the guys that just hustle and look like they are having a good time on the court. After needing heart surgery before he could play a minute after being drafted by the Lakers, it gave him a great perspective on just how fortunate he was that some players like. Not sure if we’ll see him playing in the league again, but it was fun to watch him.
It’s not exactly a secret that Detroit would love to get out from under Josh Smith’s contract. Stan Van Gundy has made the Andre Drummond/Greg Monroe/Smith trio less toxic on the court (they have played just 174 minutes together and are -2.9 per 100 possessions when paired) but Monroe is unhappy and wants out. Drummond is the future. And Smith has an albatross of a contract to go with his refusal to play to his strengths (although he is taking fewer threes this year).
While we’re at it, point guard Brandon Jennings doesn’t really fit the SVG mold either, so the coach/GM is shopping Smith and Jennings as we move into NBA trade season, reports Howard Beck of the Bleacher Report.
New Pistons president Stan Van Gundy needs to trade one or both of these guys if he wants to preserve the sanity of new Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. Both are firmly on the block, per rival executives.
Would teams really take on Smith and the two years, $27 million he is guaranteed beyond this one? Maybe, but not in a way Van Gundy would want, reports Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
This is the trade talk season. Teams — all 30 of them — try to get a feel for the market value of their guys, both the ones they really want to move and some of the ones they don’t. It’s part of the process. There are only a handful of guys around the league who are genuinely untouchable.
Andre Drummond is one of them. After that everyone on this Pistons roster should have a go bag by the door just in case. Detroit has turned out to be a bigger overhaul project than Van Gundy thought and this could and should mean a house cleaning. It’s just that there is no Goodwill of the NBA, it’s going to be very hard to get someone to take a few of these pieces off he Pistons’ hands.
The first word out when Sacramento unexpectedly fired coach Mike Malone — for a mistake of the owner — was that former Jazz head man Tyrone Corbin would hold the interim title for the remainder of the year.
Then the rumor mill cranked up, most of it fueled by what majority owner Vivek Ranadive would want. The first name PBT heard was the up-tempo stylings of George Karl, who has a relationship with current GM Pete D’Alessandro from their time in Denver. However we also heard the guy who really has Ranadive’s ear is Chris Mullin, who is the former Golden State GM and advisor to the Kings. Then came the rumor Mullin could essentially write his own ticket.
Well, whatever ticket he writes is not going to come in the middle of this season, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.
Sam Amick of the USA Today echoed that.
So, Mullin wants to get a feel what it’s like to be a coach but he’s not going to jump in with both feet yet.
Which frankly is smart. Bottom line, you can’t come in after training camp and try to radically change the system using players that don’t fit it. Ask Mike D’Antoni how that goes. Better to sit out this season then jump in with a training camp to put in what you want to do — this applies to both Mullin and Karl.
But it sounds like Mullin gets to make the call on what he wants. Coach? GM? Same role he has now? It’s his call.