Dan Feldman

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, left, and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio chase the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 101-95. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay

2016 PBT Awards: All-Defensive

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Kurt Helin

First team

Second team

It was tough to leave off Tim Duncan and Andrew Bogut, two centers with fantastic plus/minus numbers who anchor two of the best defenses in the NBA. However, I went with Jordan and Gobert in those spots because of the heavier load they carry for their teams defensively, and the fact they need to do that in 10 more minutes a game. As for Hassan Whiteside, he certainly deserves consideration and gets a lot of blocks, but he also not nearly as strong at post defense and pick-and-roll coverage (he stays back too much on good shooters), which hurts him here.

Sean Highkin

First team

  • G: Chris Paul
  • G: Kyle Lowry
  • F: Kawhi Leonard
  • F: Draymond Green
  • C: DeAndre Jordan

Second Team

The All-Defense teams are tricky. I tried to pick guys who are the most important to their teams’ defensive success at these positions, especially ones who play a heavy load of minutes.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • G: Tony Allen
  • G: Danny Green
  • F: Kawhi Leonard
  • F: Draymond Green
  • C: Rudy Gobert

Second team

Allen, Leonard, Draymond Green, Gobert and Millsap were easy to slot. Ranking Danny Green, Rubio, Caldwell-Pope and Chris Paul (who just missed the cut) was extremely difficult. The final forward spot came down to George and Thabo Sefolosha, and Jae Crowder wasn’t too far behind. Jordan just edged Tim Duncan and Andrew Bogut in an inevitable tough call.

Report: Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy, Scott Brooks not interested in Kings

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One
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The Kings are set to fire George Karl.

Now what?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Kings are unlikely to have success pursuing the top coaches on the market, which include Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks. None of the three has interest in the Kings job, league sources said.

The Kings will be working from a list that will include Vinny Del Negro, Boston Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga, ex-Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, sources said.

I don’t blame anyone for avoiding this job.

Who’d want to work under Vivek Ranadivé and Vlade Divac? Who’d want to manage a locker room where DeMarcus Cousins sets the tone?

The Kings have been a nightmare for coaches. We’ll see which teams make a change, but this might be the least desirable job available this offseason.

But it’s still an NBA head-coaching job, and there are just 30 of those. Sacramento will find somebody among up-and-coming assistants and retread former head coaches. Perhaps, the Kings even unearth a gem.

But then it will be on ownership and management to support that coach. History suggests that won’t go well – which is why this search is limited, which makes it harder to hire a good coach. It’s a vicious cycle.

After winding road, Enes Kanter finally taking control – at least offensively on the court

Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, right, dribbles past Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Enes Kanter badly wants to control his basketball career.

When he began playing the sport in Europe, he plotted his NBA future before even knowing how to pronounce the league’s name. “I was saying N-B-Ah,” Kanter said. He’d move to America in high school, because it’d be easier to assimilate when younger. He’d play college basketball and get drafted by a team that coveted him. Then, he’d have a long and fulfilling pro career.

But reality had other plans, thrice leaving Kanter without control and pleading with someone who held great influence over his future:

1. After a year at a California prep school, Kanter enrolled at Kentucky. But the NCAA deemed him ineligible due to benefits he received while playing for Fenerbahçe – despite Kanter rejecting a multi-million-dollar offer from the Turkish team to come to the U.S.

“I told the NCAA, ‘Let me play. Let me not play my first year. Let me play my second year,'” Kanter said.

Kanter insists he would’ve stayed at Kentucky another season, even though his draft stock remained high. But the NCAA ruled him permanently ineligible. So, Kanter declared for the draft.

2. The Jazz picked him No. 3 overall in 2011, but he never seemed happy in Utah. He later described his time there as “a three-and-a-half-year frustration” and implied the Jazz weren’t professionally run.

Kanter requested a trade last year.

This time, the powers that be acquiesced. Utah traded him to the Thunder.

3. Kanter played well for Oklahoma City, and he wanted to stay. But he was a restricted free agent last summer, and the Thunder didn’t make a suitable contract offer.

So, Kanter signed a max offer sheet with the Trail Blazers – even though his team preference remain unchanged.

“I was like, ‘Please match it. Please match it,'” Kanter said.

The Thunder did, and Kanter is finally seizing control.

For the first time in his career, Kanter looks on track. He dominates offensively coming off the Thunder’s bench, averaging 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in just 21.0 minutes per game. This role suits him.

Kanter deserves strong consideration for Sixth Man of the Year. He ranks second in win shares to Tristan Thompson among potentially eligible players:

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*Jared Dudley will be eligible only if he comes off the bench for the Wizards tonight.

Not that Kanter is thinking about the award.

“Right now, my focus is on really playoffs and trying to win a championship,” Kanter said. “If you asked me, honestly, I don’t even know my stats. I don’t even look at my stats, because I don’t worry about it. I don’t want to stress about it.”

Jazz fans can decide whether the believe that selflessness, but there’s little reason for Kanter to stress.

Frequently and deservedly criticized for his defense, Kanter is much more often positioned to succeed now. The Thunder score better, defense worse and play worse overall– though still outscore opponents – with Kanter on the court. But on a team previously lacking depth beyond Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, Kanter helps Oklahoma City hold its own when those stars sit.

There’s no getting around Kanter’s defense. It’s abysmal, inside and out. He can’t protect the rim. He gets lost on pick-and-rolls, which are already hard enough for him considering a lack of lateral quickness.

But what Kanter does well, he does extremely well.

Kanter carries a big load offensively, scoring efficiently on pick-and-rolls and in the post. He has also learned to blend when sharing the court with Durant and Westbrook. His pick-and-roll chemistry with Westbrook is particularly impressive. And instead of floating for inefficient mid-range jumpers, Kanter crashes the offensive glass hard. He leads the NBA in offensive-rebounding percentage, creating many opportunities for putbacks.

As a general rule, there’s a tradeoff between usage and efficiency. Theoretically, a player’s shot selection starts with his best shots. Ask him to take more shots, and that means adding worse shots than in the initial arsenal. As usage increases, shooting percentage decreases.

That’s what makes Kanter so impressive.

Since the NBA began tracking turnovers in 1977, players have matched Kanter’s combination of usage percentage (23.4) and true shooting percentage (62.6) just 14 times:

  • 2015-16 Stephen Curry
  • 2014-15 Stephen Curry
  • 2013-14 LeBron James
  • 2012-13 LeBron James
  • 2009-10 Dwight Howard
  • 2008-09 Shaquille O’Neal
  • 2007-08 Amar’e Stoudemire
  • 1990-91 Charles Barkley
  • 1989-90 Charles Barkley
  • 1988-89 Charles Barkley
  • 1987-88 Charles Barkley
  • 1986-87 Kevin McHale
  • 1984-85 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • 1979-80 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In all but one of those cases (Shaq with the 2009 Suns), the player received – or with Curry this year, will receive – MVP votes. Kanter won’t – nor should he receive any consideration.

But players with Kanter’s scoring prowess typically receive immense adulation.

Why is he different?

Defense is huge, and it limits his overall impact. Being drafted No. 3 raised expectations. So does his max salary.

But Kanter is a backup now, and his peers – other than the rare Andre Iguodala or Manu Ginobili – are also flawed. That’s why they’re backups.

Salary-cap rules prohibited the Thunder from spending Kanter’s money on someone else. So, it was him or bust at any price for Oklahoma City – which the Trail Blazers obviously knew when they extend the offer sheet. They also knew last summer was the last before the cap skyrocketed under the new national TV contracts.

It’s time to stop worrying about what Kanter isn’t. He’s not a defender. He’s not a traditional max player. He’s not a franchise cornerstone.

But he’s someone who, after trying and failing to avoid an uneven path to this point, is having a very nice season for a contender.

That deserves a little more commendation.

Diamond Stone hiring agent, staying in NBA draft

Maryland center Diamond Stone, right, charges into Kansas forward Landen Lucas during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the men's NCAA Tournament, in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, March 24, 2016. Kansas won 79-63. (AP Photo/John Flavell)
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Maryland freshman Diamond Stone was headed to the NBA draft without an agent, allowing him to maintain college eligibility.

Now, he’s set on turning pro.

Maryland release:

University of Maryland sophomore guard Melo Trimble will enter his name in the NBA Draft, but will not hire an agent, while freshman center Diamond Stone will declare for the NBA Draft with plans to hire an agent.

Stone projects to be a mid first-round pick, so it’s probably wise for him to stay in the draft.

A big center, Stone was a force inside at Maryland. He’ll have to show in workouts that he can continue to excel when regularly facing similarly sized opponents. Stone’s footwork and touch look good, but he doesn’t have the athleticism to reach a higher gear.

Another issue: Stone’s conditioning, which prevented him from always playing hard. But he won’t be playing big minutes in the NBA immediately, anyway. He can work on getting into better shape as he learns the pro game, developing in multiple ways simultaneously.

Trimble is a probable second-rounder. He passes well for a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 height dictates he play point guard at the next level. It’s up to him whether he’ll work on his point guard skills at Maryland or in the pros.

Udonis Haslem out for Heat-Celtics, status unclear for playoffs

Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) shakes hands with Detroit Pistons center Joel Anthony (50) after the Heat defeated the Pistons 107-89 in an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Anthony is a former Heat player. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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MIAMI (AP) — With home-court advantage on the line, Udonis Haslem will miss Miami’s regular-season finale at Boston on Wednesday night with soreness in his left foot.

Haslem was hurt in the fourth quarter of Miami’s win at Detroit on Tuesday, limping immediately to the locker room after leaving the game and not returning.

He has appeared in 37 games for the Heat this season, averaging 1.6 points.

Haslem played in each of Miami’s last six games going into Wednesday, his longest streak of appearances since December. He and Dwyane Wade are the only two players to be on all three of Miami’s NBA championship teams, both of them now completing their 13th season with the Heat.

Miami opens the playoffs this weekend. It’s unclear if Haslem will be available.