Tag: D.J. Augustin

Cameron Payne, Reece Chamberlain

Rumor: Thunder promised to draft Cameron Payne No. 14


In 2011, there were rumors the Thunder promised to draft Reggie Jackson with the No. 24 pick.

The Thunder drafted Jackson with the No. 24 pick.

In 2014, the Thunder made a pre-draft arrangement with Josh Huestis.

The Thunder drafted Huestis with the No. 29 pick.

In 2015…

Chad Ford of ESPN:

As for the Thunder, since late last week there’s been a lot of buzz among rival GMs that the Thunder promised Cameron Payne they’d take him at 14. I don’t know how much of that is smoke, but he is a great fit at 14 and talent wise he may be the best pure point guard in the draft.

This rumor is believable because the Thunder have shown they operate this way. But because the rumor is believable, perhaps opposing general managers are too quick to accept it.

Payne is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Murray State. He blends scoring and passing skills well, but he’s not a big threat to score in the paint through shots at the rim or free throws. Payne is built to run point in a pick-and-roll league, especially if his 3-point shot continues to develop. He should get drafted in the middle of the first round.

Oklahoma City already has point guards Russell Westbrook and D.J. Augustin under contract for next season, and both appear to be better than Payne in the short-term. The Thunder – especially because Kevin Durant is entering free agency – should be focused on winning a title next year.

But it’s unlikely they draft anyone, regardless of position, who substantially helps them achieve that goal. If they see Payne as the best long-term prospect, they should draft him. And if a promise convinces him to skip other workouts, that might be the right way to approach this.

Kobe Bryant takes to Twitter to defend Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers

While Russell Westbrook has been putting up ridiculous lines and racking up triple-doubles seemingly nightly, his efficiency and the volume of his shooting has come into question.

With some reason. Back on April 1 he was 10-of-32 shooting. April 3 it was 5-of-20. April 5 it was 12-of-29. You get the idea.

So when he put up 54 points Sunday in a Thunder loss, there was some talk of his 43 shot attempts. That’s a lot of attempts. He used 51.7 percent of the team’s possessions when he was on the court. He was an unrepentant gunner, but with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka out what do you expect of Westbrook?

Kobe Bryant — the patron saint of putting up a lot of shots when your teammates are questionable — came to Westbrook’s defense.

Westbrook has certainly not always been efficient in putting up big numbers, but that has gotten too much blame for the losses the Thunder racked up. The bigger issue is the Thunder defense can’t stop anyone.

Offensively, things can get a bit stagnant when Westbrook takes over for OKC. But if the alternative is more Dion Waiters or D.J. Augustin, I’m okay with that.

Russell Westbrook ferociously throws down alley-oop against Lakers (video)

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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The two-point-guard back court of D.J. Augustin and Russell Westbrook has been a net negative for the Thunder. But, sometimes, it works in spectacular fashion.

This is why Russell Westbrook is viewed as the NBA’s best point guard. That athleticism is just scary.

Russell Westbrook’s latest triple-double awarded in dubious fashion

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook continued his otherworldly play on Friday, notching yet another triple-double on the way to carrying his team to a win over the Timberwolves.

The triple-double was the sixth Westbrook has notched in his last eight games, but appears to have been awarded in dubious fashion.

It’s customary for hometown scorekeepers to be a little overly-generous with certain statistics; assists, for example, are ones where we’ve seen a player in his home arena get the benefit of the doubt. But on Friday, Westbrook’s final rebound was awarded well after the play occurred, which made it more than a little bit suspect.

From Royce Young of ESPN.com:

The Thunder were enjoying an impressive blowout over the young Minnesota Timberwolves, and Westbrook was going to be left to watch the final couple of minutes a single rebound short. That’s when he took matters into his own hands. He looked over at the Thunder’s official scorekeepers, holding his arm up.

“Tip?” he said, nodding his head. “Tip?”

A quick conference at the scorer’s table and right around the time the buzzer sounded on the Thunder’s 113-99 win, Westbrook suddenly had his triple-double: 29 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. His eighth of the season, sixth in the last eight games, and the first player since Jason Kidd in 2007-08 to have eight or more in a season (Kidd had 13).

The rebound appears to be a tad dubious, an offensive board awarded with 2:35 left where Westbrook went up to tip back a missed 3-point attempt by D.J. Augustin. Westbrook was given a missed shot on it, so everything is on the up and up, but still, hard not to raise an eyebrow.

Here’s the rebound in question:

One way to look at this is as the scorekeepers did, which is that Westbrook getting a hand on the ball was somehow a shot attempt, which means crediting him with a rebound and a missed field goal is proper in this situation.

The NBA rulebook, however, doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Here’s how it defines a field goal attempt (emphasis mine):

“A field goal attempt is a player’s attempt to shoot the ball into his basket for a field goal. The act of shooting starts when, in the official’s judgment, the player has started his shooting motion and continues until the shooting motion ceases and he returns to a normal floor position. It is not essential that the ball leave the shooter’s hand. His arm(s) might be held so that he cannot actually make an attempt.

“The term is also used to include the flight of the ball until it becomes dead or is touched by a player. A tap during a jump ball or rebound is not considered a field goal attempt. However, anytime a live ball is in flight toward the rim from the playing court, the goal, if made, shall count, even if time expires or the official’s whistle sounds. The field goal will not be scored if time on the game clock expires before the ball leaves the player’s hand or the ball is in flight toward the rim.”

We’ll see if the league sees fit to review this one, the way it did with a triple-double that LeBron James initially recorded earlier this season — which ultimately resulted in the removal of some questionable statistics.

Andre Drummond of the Pistons saw two of his offensive rebounds taken away by the league this week, which were also considered to be “tips.”

Derrick Rose is hurt again. Where do the Bulls go from here?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls

CHICAGO—On Tuesday night, the Bulls delivered the devastating news that Derrick Rose would need yet another knee surgery after suffering a second tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee. It was a crushing blow for Rose and for the Bulls, who had been rounding into shape as the contenders everyone thought they’d be. The loss of Rose opens up a lot of questions about this team’s future both in the short and long term.

How long will Rose be out?

At shootaround on Wednesday morning, Thibodeau said that when Rose had the last surgery, the team knew it was a possibility he’d tear the meniscus again.

Rose’s timetable for recovery is not clear, and it won’t be until after he undergoes knee surgery. A date for the procedure still hasn’t been set, and we don’t know what kind of surgery he’ll opt for. Last season, he chose to repair the meniscus rather than remove it, which meant missing the rest of the season. If he goes that route again, then he will once again miss the rest of the year.

If Rose chooses to remove the meniscus instead of repair it, he could be back sooner, maybe even by the time of the playoffs. This is the route that Eric Bledsoe, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and others have gone, and it’s risky. It allows them to come back sooner, but it can be more detrimental to their long-term health.

Plus, we’re far enough into the season now that a six-week recovery from the latter surgery (likely the best-case scenario) would put Rose on pace to come back in the second week of April, with just a few games left before the playoffs start. Even if he’s fully physically cleared to play, the mental hurdles that come with it are going to be tough for Rose to clear, especially after everything he’s been through. It’s already been an up-and-down process to integrate him back into the starting lineup after two years off, and his play was uneven. Throwing him back into playoff-level action coming right off this surgery and expecting him to play at a high level is unrealistic at best and reckless at worst.

The team will know more after Rose undergoes surgery, but it’s a safe assumption that they will be going the rest of the season without him.

Will the Bulls make a move in the short term?

It’s bad luck for the Bulls that Rose’s injury was discovered after the trade deadline, because their ability to make moves is now extremely limited. Chicago has an open roster spot, but they can only sign a player to a 10-day contract or the veteran’s minimum. There’s a good chance they do that.

“I’m sure John and Gar have a list of guys and we’ll be hearing from a lot of people,” Thibodeau said at shootaround. “But right now, we’re concerned about Derrick and the guys we do have here. I don’t know what options we may have. We’re always looking at different options anyway. But we haven’t discussed anything yet.”

One player who immediately comes to mind is Nate Robinson, who has been without a team since January. Robinson was Rose’s fill-in for the 2012-13 season, most notable for scoring 34 points in a triple-overtime playoff win over the Brooklyn Nets. He was a fan favorite and excelled as a source of instant offense off the bench when he was in Chicago. But the Bulls already have Aaron Brooks for that role, and they might go the direction of bringing in a facilitator instead.

Mike James, another Thibodeau favorite, is a name they could look at. That’s the caliber of player they’d be able to bring in. Unless something unexpected happens on the buyout market before the March 1 playoff-eligibility deadline, the options are pretty unexciting. But with the point-guard depth limited now to Brooks and Kirk Hinrich, who has battled injuries of his own this season, it’s a good bet that they’ll bring in somebody.

How far can the Bulls go without Rose this season?

They’re probably not title contenders without Rose, as inconsistent as he’s been. But they still have plenty of talent, and a coach that has specialized in getting the absolute most out of any collection of players he has, no matter what. They’re still going to be competitive—that much is obvious.

The good news is that this Bulls team is much more talented than either of the previous two. Last year, after Rose went down and Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland, the team’s leading scorer was D.J. Augustin. This year, they have more weapons. Jimmy Butler has emerged as an All-Star talent and first option on offense, which he wasn’t last year. Pau Gasol commands a double-team. Tony Snell, who has emerged as a threat since the All-Star break, will get more time.

Combine that with the steadiness of Taj Gibson and the improved recent play of a finally-healthy Joakim Noah, and the Bulls absolutely could—and probably will—win a first-round series.

Beyond that, who knows? A trip to the Eastern Conference Finals depends on the matchup they get in the second round, and none of those look favorable. The Hawks and Cavs are the two strongest teams in the conference, and beating either one of them in a seven-game series is a rough proposition without Rose. Even if they had him, those teams are so deep and talented that it would have been a bloodbath. As inconsistent as Rose has been, the dropoff from him to Brooks and Hinrich is huge. Just the threat of him having a game like the 30-point explosion against the Cavs right before the All-Star break is something that will be extremely difficult to make up.

The likeliest scenario is a second-round exit, unless Rose shocks the league and comes back in time for the playoffs and plays his best basketball of the season. Don’t hold your breath.

How does Rose’s injury impact the franchise’s long-term outlook?

For better or worse, this Bulls core will be what the Bulls have to work with for the next several years. Butler hits restricted free agency this summer, and the team has been adamant that they’ll match any offer he gets. Noah is too good to trade and has too much of an injury history to get fair value for.

Even if the Bulls wanted to cut their losses with Rose after this latest injury—and there’s been no indication that they do—moving him would be next to impossible. He’s set to make $20 million next season and $21.3 million in 2016-17, and will be coming off what is now three consecutive knee surgeries. The Bulls and Rose are in it for the long haul together, regardless of what he’s able to do on the court.

Still, even if Rose gives them nothing over the final two years of his deal, Chicago has a solid core of Butler, Noah, Gibson and Nikola Mirotic to build around. And if Rose is never again the superstar he was before the injuries, it’s still not unreasonable to expect him to be a contributor in a smaller role.

The more interesting wrinkle of his injury is what it might mean for Tom Thibodeau’s future. The coach and the Bulls’ front office don’t have a great relationship as it is. That’s been widely reported. But as long as they’re winning, it’s going to be difficult to part ways. Another season-ending Rose injury taking them out of title contention would potentially make it easier for the team to decide that the Thibodeau era has run its course.

There is a lot of uncertainty around the Bulls after the injury, both in the short and long term. Losing a player like Rose again sucks on both a basketball level and a professional level, and it remains to be seen how the team will respond. But the future isn’t all dark.