JaVale McGee

PBT Roundtable: Who is your League Pass team this season?

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Each week the PBT writers sit at a virtual roundtable, just like the knights of King Arthur, drink mead and discuss the NBA topic of the day. This week’s question:

Who is going to be your League Pass team this season (the team outside the brightest spotlights that you keep finding yourself drawn to when there are other games on)?

Kurt Helin: I tend to be drawn to the teams that have a little flair, that entertain me (Golden State last season, Minnesota the one before
that), which is why this season it’s going to be the New Orleans Pelicans for me (just edging out the Detroit Pistons). Eric Gordon is back and he looked good attacking the rim in his preseason debut (that may just set him up as trade bait, but still). Anthony Davis is a physical freak poised for a breakout season and he has started attacking off the dribble as well as showing the ability to finish on the roll. Tyreke Evans will make plays, they have Jrue Holiday setting the table, plus Ryan Anderson spacing the floor. This is young team with the potential to find its groove and be in the playoff hunt, or to just self destruct. Either way it’s must watch. (Also, they have the solid Joel Meyers on play-by-play — your League Pass team has to have an announcer you don’t hate and want to tune out.)

Dan Feldman: Denver Nuggets. Two words: JaVale McGee. McGee, for better or worse, is one of the most entertaining players in the league, as long as he’s not on your favorite team. If I were a Denver fan, he’d drive me nuts. But I’m not, so I can just enjoy the antics. Plus, Ty Lawson is a blur, and Kenneth Faried is the closest thing we have to Dennis Rodman. This team has personality, and that’s what I want to watch.

D.J. Foster: The Atlanta Hawks! I’ll be issuing plenty of Teague Pass Alerts this season, because I want to see how the Tony Parker clone plays in a similar offense. Even if Jeff Teague isn’t your bag, though, there’s something here for everyone. Al Horford is one of the smartest bigs in basketball, Paul Millsap has that awkward effectiveness that keeps you guessing, Kyle Korver’s jumper is perfection and Dennis Schroeder is an exciting young ball-hawk (okay, no more bad puns). Watching all the pieces mesh should be a blast.

Brett Pollakoff: I can’t watch Nuggets games just hoping for McGee to do something stupid with so many other teams in play, and if Lucas Nogueira was with the Hawks this season instead of playing overseas, I’d be fully on board with Teague Pass Alerts. Instead, give me the Timberwolves. They were on my list last year even with the constant injuries (sue me, I enjoy Alexey Shved), and with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love both healthy and doing what they do best, to me they’re guys who are must-watch on a nightly basis.

Report: Las Vegas also in contention for 2017 NBA All-Star game

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Where will the NBA hold the 2017 All-Star game?

Charlotte? No.

New Orleans? Probably.

New York/Brooklyn or Chicago? Maybe.

One more maybe: Las Vegas.

Scott Kusher of The Advocate:

The NBA held All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2007. By all accounts, it was wild.

I’d be surprised if the league returned the event to Las Vegas, but at this point, I’d really be surprised by any option besides New Orleans.

Report: 76ers, Sam Hinkie’s ‘handpicked analytics crew’ splitting up

Ben Mikesell/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
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The 76ers hired Bryan Colangelo, and Sam Hinkie bounced.

Now, much of Hinkie’s front-office is also heading out the door.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

that regime — including deposed GM Sam Hinkie’s handpicked analytics crew — will be mostly gone by the end of August, league sources say.

If Colangelo hires his own analytics staff and integrates numbers into his decision-making, this is no big deal.

If Colangelo leaves those positions vacant, Philadelphia will be working from behind.

I’m betting on the former. He isn’t Hinkie, but Colangelo has discussed the importance of analytics. Let Colangelo hire his own staff, and everything might even flow more smoothly.

Mike Krzyzewski: Team USA having too much fun, needs to tone it down

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMar DeRozan #9 of the United States Men's National Team looks on during a break in the action against the China Men's National Team during the second half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Mike Krzyzewski hates fun (even more than he admits).

So, the coach wasn’t thrilled after Team USA’s exhibition win over China, which included DeMar DeRozan nearly 360-degree dunking on someone.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

I want to see Team USA make highlight plays. Dunk from the free-throw line. Shoot from halfcourt. Throw behind-the-back passes. Show up weaker competition.

So, it’s hard for me to get behind Coach K’s criticism.

But I also want to see the Americans win gold medals in the Olympics, and I’ll blame Krzyzewski if they’re not adequately focused.

Fair? Not one bit.

Doesn’t change what I want, though.

Report: Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook #0 look on prior to game six of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Kevin Durant said he had to distance himself from Russell Westbrook entering free agency. Yet, Durant listened to the Warriors recruiting him all season and had clearly been interested in Golden State for months.

The writing was on the wall.

Except, a few days before taking meetings in the Hamptons (which led to signing with the Warriors), Durant dined with Westbrook.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Three weeks ago, Kevin Durant’s sitting there at dinner, telling him “Hey, I’m coming back, man. Don’t worry about it.” And now, Russell Westbrook has been kind of thrown into this in having to decide his future a summer earlier than expected.

Kevin Durant, more so than even that, was telling people, “Hey, yeah, I mean I’m coming back.” Like I said in there, a week before Kevin Durant sat down in the Hamptons, he was in Oklahoma City ready to make an offer on a multi-million-dollar house. So, the guy was pretty serious about coming back, and then things turned rather quickly for him to leave. And there’s no doubt that the organization felt a little bit burned by this.

Maybe Durant said that. Maybe he meant it in the moment. Maybe he was just trying to appease someone he didn’t want to let down. Maybe he was unclear. Maybe Westbrook read too much into a more clear statement.

There’s a lot of room for imperfect recollection/interpretation. We’re dealing with human beings.

Likewise on the house. Who says Durant was “ready” to make an offer? That’s an awfully difficult assessment to make outside his head. Just as the Celtics had a list of players Durant wanted them to add, it seems he was preparing for all contingencies. It’s hard to nail down whether he was house hunting because he was certain he wanted to stay in Oklahoma City or whether he just wanted a new place if he stayed in Oklahoma City.

So much of what we know about Durant’s process for picking the Warriors suggests a rational decision. He considered them for months, met with multiple teams, conferred with his inner circle then made a choice.

If Durant told Westbrook or anyone else he’d re-sign with the Thunder, that obviously changes the equation. But I’m left wondering:

How many people in Oklahoma City heard what they wanted to hear rather than what Durant actually said?

How many people are incentivized to paint Durant as impulsive, because the alternative — Durant thoughtfully deciding the Thunder weren’t his best option — indicates deeper flaws in the franchise?