2014 PBT Awards: Most Valuable Player

13 Comments

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

3. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

One and two are pretty clear cut (even if you want to flip the order, I don’t because I think Durant played at his peak longer and meant more to his team this season). Then it got hard — leaving off Dirk Nowitzki and Al Jefferson was brutal.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

3. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

4. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

5. James Harden, Houston Rockets

LeBron is still the game’s best overall player, and few would dispute that. But Durant’s consistent and elite scoring all season long for a Thunder team that finished with 59 wins gets him the award this season. Griffin elevated his game and kept the Clippers winning while Chris Paul missed time with an injury, which gave him the slight nod over Noah on my nonexistent ballot.

Dan Feldman

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

5. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

I hate, hate, hate voter fatigue. If LeBron James has the best season every year, he deserves MVP every year. So, I’m especially wary of the hot candidate with the better narrative trying to unseat the favorite. But Durant had a better season than LeBron, and while LeBron is still great, Durant did enough to ensure I won’t regret choosing him. Where the race gets interesting: No. 3. Curry is an offensive star and good defender in the Warriors’ system.  Chris Paul is the Clippers’ best player, but he missed too much time, and when he did, Griffin was awesome. Love rates No. 3 in many advanced stats, but he too often chooses to go for rebounds rather than defend his man responsibly. It’s a small, and sometimes overblown, problem, but it’s enough to drop him a couple spots on this list.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

AP
1 Comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

AP Photo/Don Ryan
3 Comments

Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
1 Comment

Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.