Kurt Helin

joel embiid

Trust the process: Former Sixer GM Sam Hinkie casts All-Star vote for Joel Embiid

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In a few years, when the Philadelphia 76ers have developed into a quality team, Sam Hinkie is going to look very smart. The pushed aside former Sixers GM was willing to play the “be bad to get good” game more aggressively than anyone, he had a long-term vision and more patience than anyone (including his own ownership), he mainly did a poor job of controlling his own narrative (he didn’t care much).

Hinkie still has his players’ backs — he cast his All-Star vote for Joel Embiid. After Embiid prodded him.

Joel Embiid’s Twitter campaign to make the All-Star team has been nothing short of brilliant.

Will he make it? Let’s assume that, per usual, there will be seven Eastern Conference frontcourt players on the roster, and that the three starters (as voted by fans/players/media) will be LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Love (the top three fan vote getters so far, all locks to get picked by the coaches if they are not voted starters). That leaves four spots… really three because Jimmy Butler is a lock. That means picking three more from a list of Embiid, Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside, Jabari Parker, Andre Drummond, and Al Horford. One could certainly make the case Embiid deserves to be one of the three out of that group, but I also could make a good case for a group that leaves him out. It’s tight.

I want Embiid to be in New Orleans — it’s an exhibition that should be about the players we want to see, who make the game entertaining. Embiid does that. But we’ll see if the fans will vote in, or the coaches will select, a rookie.

Miami’s Hassan Whiteside throws down against Warriors (VIDEO)

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Miami didn’t have the talent to hang with Golden State once the Warriors decided to take the game seriously — a late 11-1 Warriors run made the final score look better for GSW than their performance merited.

Hassan Whiteside was the one Heat player who had the talent — he finished with 28 points, 20 rebounds, and he was a force inside the Warriors did not have an answer for.

That includes this huge throwdown.

Gerald Green still has hops, finishes monster alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Remember, Gerald Green is an All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest winner.

Sure, as of this February that will be a decade ago, but the man still has hops. Tuesday night Isaiah Thomas threw it up and Green went and got it and finished the impressive alley-oop.

The Raptors came from behind on Green and the Celtics behind 41 points from DeMar DeRozan to get the win.

Report: Derrick Rose ‘talked about walking away from basketball’ during absence

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Derrick Rose seems to have gone to a very dark place.

He went AWOL from the Knicks Monday night for a game against the Pelicans — not contacting the team and not taking their calls because he needed space — but was back at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday. He got a fine from the organization but will suit up Wednesday night against the Sixers.

Rose said he left because of a “family issue” with his mother, but his existential crisis may have gone deeper than that reports Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

“It was a family issue,” Rose would explain after turning up at work. “It had nothing to do with the team or basketball. That’s the first time I ever felt like that emotionally and I had to be with my family,”

Rose, according to two independent sources who spoke to the Daily News on the condition of anonymity, was such an emotional wreck Monday afternoon that his only solution was to abruptly leave the Knicks to be with his mother and his son.

In fact, Rose’s state of mind was such that for a brief time he talked about walking away from basketball for an extended period of time to clear his mind. That seems hard to believe since Rose is only 28 years old and could land a lucrative free agent contract this summer, something he talked about two years ago.

When things are going wrong, it all feels like it can pile up at once. This is the first time in Rose’s professional career he’s spent the season away from his son and family, which would be a hard adjustment for anyone. Rose has had tension with coach Jeff Hornacek about his role, he’s been benched at the end of recent games, and the Knicks as a whole are struggling. Throw in something happening with his mother and it may have been too much for him. We’re not him, we can’t say what is or is not going on for sure, but it’s pretty clear Rose was in a dark place emotionally for a while.

Does that excuse not making a call to the team when he bolted to go home? That’s a separate question.

Can Rose rebuild his reputation within the organization and league following years of knee injuries and rough seasons in Chicago? This certainly doesn’t help, but it’s all on Rose now.

The only thing that seems for sure is Rose’s goal of earning a long-term, lucrative contract with the Knicks after this one-year deal expires is gone. This appears to be a one-and-done situation now.

Three things we learned on Tuesday: Kyle Korver, rest of Cavs reminded Jazz defense is good

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Here’s what you missed around the NBA while trying to figure out why Prince left behind $1 million in gold bars but not one raspberry beret….

1) Kyle Korver makes Cavaliers debut, but Gordon Hayward, Jazz defense steal spotlight. Here’s the big takeaway from Kyle Korver’s first game as a Cavalier — the Jazz are very good.

Korver will be good for the Cavaliers, too, but he hadn’t even practiced with the team so visions of a lights-out debut were always a fairy tale. He was 1-of-5 in 18 minutes in his debut, going 0-of-2 from three (and 0-of-3 on uncontested looks). He will find a rhythm, and he will sync up with the Cavaliers.

Expect Korver to look a lot better Wednesday night when he and the Cavaliers face the Portland defense — the Utah defense is the best in the NBA this season and the Cavaliers found out first hand. Cleveland had just 12 points in the second quarter and shot 36.5 percent as a team for the game, struggling to score inside and get easy buckets thanks to the defensive presence of Rudy Gobert. Check out the Cavaliers’ shot chart.

Cavaliers shotchart

Cleveland took a brief third quarter lead when LeBron James just took over the game (he finished with 29 points, although Joe Ingles did a surprisingly good job on him defensively for stretches) and the team went on a 17-0 run. But the Jazz responded with a 16-0 run of their own behind Gordon Hayward, who finished with 28. Utah is a sleepy good team, one of only three teams with a top 10 offense and defense (the Cavs are not one of them, their defense is 14th) and come the playoffs they are going to make some noise. Defense and ball movement will do that. Just ask the Cavaliers.

2) DeMar DeRozan, Raptors remind Celtics who is second best team in East (at least for now). The Eastern Conference has Cleveland alone on the top tier, and so long as LeBron is not in a full body cast they will be the team that comes out of the East to the Finals. For most of the last two seasons, the second tier in the East has belonged to the Toronto Raptors alone, but of late Boston has made a push to climb up to that level.

And for a while Tuesday night, it looked like they would climb right past the Raptors, taking a 16-point third quarter lead thanks to another strong night from Isaiah Thomas (he finished with 27) and Al Horford (14 points and nine rebounds), Then DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors happened. DeRozan was brilliant and had 19 points in the third quarter to spark the comeback, Jonas Valanciunas was big (literally) and finished with 18 points and 23 rebounds, and finally Kyle Lowry added nine of his 24 in the fourth and Toronto came back to secure a 114-106 win at home.

I can’t wait for the second-round playoff matchup between these teams — that is going to be fun.

3) James Harden drops 11th triple-double of season, second straight with 40 points, Rockets win ninth straight. Who is the MVP again? Midway through the season (an we’re almost there) you can finally have an MVP conversation with some depth to it, and the race comes down to this — Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Everyone else in the conversation — Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, etc. — are all a couple of steps back.

Harden has been on a roll of late — he led the Rockets to their ninth-straight win Tuesday night dropping a 40-15-10 line on good Charlotte defense. He is now just the fourth player in NBA history to have back-to-back triple-doubles with at least 40 points (Westbrook, Michael Jordan, and Pete Maravich are the others). Harden is in attack mode, he is seeing the floor, and his MVP case is that he has the numbers and the Rockets on pace to win more than 60 games. It’s a damn good case.