Kurt Helin

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Will Markelle Fultz play again for the Sixers this season?


Markelle Fultz played four games for Philadelphia at the start of this season. You probably forgot that.

It was then that he was pulled off the court to deal with a shoulder injury, which had morphed into a concern about his shooting form and jump shot. Was the issue in his head? Armchair sports psychologists tried to figure out what was going on, questioning if he is ready to play, while logical people noted he’s just 19 and may need a little time.

But with just 18 games left before the 76ers enter the playoffs, it’s time to ask:

Will Markelle Fultz play for the Sixers again this season?

He was out warming up on the court pregame before the Sixers beat the Hornets Tuesday, as shown by Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Sixers coach Brett Brown gave a vague answer to the return question, saying the team was thinking about it still.

“It’s all internal discussions we’re going through right now and just trying to accurately assess his situation,” Brown said Tuesday before the Sixers played the Hornets. “And we’re discussing that as we speak.”

At this point, my bet is the next time we see Fultz is on the court at the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas this July. The Sixers are rolling, trying to get playoff seeding and their postseason rotations in place. Bringing in Fultz would force changes to all of those routines, plus be a big media distraction. Let him build confidence going against lesser players at Summer League, give him an entire training camp to adjust, then unleash the No. 1 pick on the NBA next season.

There is no rush for Philadelphia — “the process” is just starting to come into focus. This team has the potential to be special, to be elite, to contend, but that is years down the road. The Sixers have been a patient organization — well, except when ownership caved to the pressure and fired Sam Hinkie to bring in the old-guard Colangelos — and it’s no time to change that now. Let Fultz miss a season, that has worked pretty well for the Sixers with other players.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban denies 2011 sex assault allegation

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is denying a 2011 allegation of sexual assault after a weekly alternative newspaper in Oregon published details of a case that prosecutors didn’t pursue, saying they didn’t believe there was evidence to support the claim.

The report in the Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, came two weeks after a Sports Illustrated account that portrayed a hostile work environment for women in the front office of the Mavericks.

The woman claimed Cuban reached inside her pants and penetrated her vagina with his finger while they were taking a picture in a Portland nightclub. In an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Cuban wrote, “It didn’t happen.”

In a report explaining why they weren’t pursuing the case, prosecutors wrote that “there is no evidence to corroborate the complainant’s statement and there is evidence contradicting the claim.” The report also said the woman didn’t want to proceed with the allegation.

The SI report included claims of inappropriate sexual conduct by former CEO Terdema Ussery and raised questions about what Cuban knew and when.

Three Things to Know: Rockets smack down Thunder for 16th straight win

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Oozing confidence, Rockets comfortably roll past Thunder for 16th straight win. Going into the season, the question was who would be the second elite team in the West, Houston or Oklahoma City? Both had loaded up on stars, both were led by MVP-level talents, and both had questions to answer.

Houston has emphatically answered their questions all season and Tuesday emphatically put the rest the question of which of these teams would step up (although we already knew). The Rockets defensively controlled the Thunder — Oklahoma City didn’t have a shot at the rim until midway through the second quarter — plus they rained threes (17-of-33, 51.5 percent from deep) and went right at every mismatch (over and over). Houston took control of the game in the second quarter and ultimately coasted to a 122-112 win.

That’s 16 straight wins for the Rockets, who remain half a game up on Warriors for the best record in the West. Houston has left no doubt they are elite, and they are the one team that is a legitimate threat to a healthy Golden State squad. That starts because of their defense, which could not stop Russell Westbrook (32 points) but made him work for it, as they did everyone in blue.

Oklahoma City’s defense, which has not been the same since the loss of Andre Roberson (ruptured left patellar tendon, they are now 8-9 without him) had no answer for the Rockets.

Chris Paul had 25 points, James Harden 23 and 11 assists (but 10 turnovers, Paul George did not make his life that easy), as they exploited the Thunder defensive holes all night long, to the tune of a 120.8 offensive rating.

Paul George had 17 points on 16 shots, his offense hampered by the fact he was assigned to guard Harden most of the night and expelled a lot of energy on that end. This team’s play of late, and its potential fate in the playoffs the way they are playing right now, is going to make this an interesting July for George.

2) Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis — and with them the Trail Blazers and Pelicans — keep on rolling. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard have been clear and away the two hottest players in the NBA of late, leading their teams on win streaks that have them looking like solid playoff teams (as much as that can be said about any team below third in the competitive West). That continued on Tuesday.

Davis suffered a blow to the ribs during the second quarter trying to box out DeAndre Jordan and had to go to the locker room for X-rays. DeMarcus Cousins told AD to get back out there — or give Boogie his Achilles — and Davis did that, and then took over: he had 31 second-half points, on his way to 41 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Pelicans to a 121-116 victory. That’s nine straight wins for New Orleans, who sits as the four seed in the West now three games clear of the nine-seed Clippers.

Lillard had  37 points — hitting 8-of- 11 from three — as the Trail Blazers cruised to their eighth straight win, 111-87 over the hapless New York Knicks. Portland is currently the three seed in the West, four games clear of the nine seed.

3) Kevin Love did the most important thing in the NBA Tuesday, opening up about mental health issues. We tend to focus on the games, the highlights, and the on-the-court action around here, but it was Kevin Love who did by far the biggest, most important thing in the NBA Tuesday:

He opened up about his battle with panic attacks in a Player’s Tribune article.

Inspired by DeMar DeRozan opening up about his battle with depression, Love talked openly about his mental health challenge.

It was November 5th, two months and three days after I turned 29. We were at home against the Hawks — 10th game of the season. A perfect storm of things was about to collide. I was stressed about issues I’d been having with my family. I wasn’t sleeping well. On the court, I think the expectations for the season, combined with our 4–5 start, were weighing on me.

I knew something was wrong almost right after tip-off….

After halftime, it all hit the fan. Coach Lue called a timeout in the third quarter. When I got to the bench, I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath. It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set. I nodded, but I didn’t hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out. When I got up to walk out of the huddle, I knew I couldn’t reenter the game — like, literally couldn’t do it physically.

Love talks about overcoming the stigma, about not being afraid to tell people this is what he was dealing with, about figuring out with help how to better cope with panic attacks — that’s what happened when he left the blowout loss to the Thunder that became so controversial — and doing that in the macho world of sports is important. There are a lot of people dealing with panic attacks — or depression, or a host of other mental illnesses — that don’t seek help because there is still a stigma attached to them. But that is changing. Love found support from all over the league.

Love’s move helps change that stigma and can help other people step forward. From the outside it would be easy to say “look at him with his NBA championship ring, his All-Star appearances, his nine-figure salary plus endorsements, his supermodel girlfriend, he has no problems” when in reality he is dealing with many of the same issues and pressure all of us are. That a star of Love’s stature steps forward is a step in the right direction for society.

Report: Bulls warned by league to stop resting healthy players


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo to all 30 teams recently saying that while developing younger players is a legitimate way to improve a team (especially late in the season for those out of the playoff chase) he would not tolerate tanking. That led to plenty of questions around the league about where that line is, especially for the franchises in the eight-team tankapaloza going on at the bottom of the NBA standings right now.

Chicago has rested veteran center Robin Lopez for six straight games and wing Justin Holiday five of the past six, instead starting David Nwaba (and playing heavy minutes for their young guys such as Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen who could be part of their future). That has crossed the line and the NBA league office warned the Bulls, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

After the NBA issued a warning to the Chicago Bulls this week about resting healthy players, the franchise now plans to play veteran starters Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday more extensively the remainder of the season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Bulls have lost 14 of their past 17 games and publicly stated in mid-February that they would begin sitting Lopez and Holiday….

The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver formally informed team owners about resting healthy players – perhaps an effort to diminish the league-wide verbiage of “tanking” – after the league moved up the start of this season to spread games out for coaches and players. The Bulls changed course on their plans to continue sitting Lopez and Holiday in the past day, league sources said.

Bulls president John Paxson discussed the issue with Nick Friedel of ESPN.

What exactly is “adhere to their recommendations” in practice? Do the Bulls start Lopez and Holiday, but play them 15 minutes or so a night and then get the young guys in? Exactly how much do they have to play them, because the Bulls currently would head into the lottery in eighth, giving them a 9.9 percent chance at a top-three pick. You can be sure they would like to “improve” those odds.

The Bulls didn’t go the full Mark Cuban and tell everyone tanking would be good for them, but their front office did say at the All-Star break they had instructed coach Fred Hoiberg to prioritize playing the young guys.

Clippers strike jersey ad deal with dating app Bumble

Via the Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have become the 20th NBA team to put an ad on their jersey — and it will start tonight (Tuesday) vs. the Pelicans.

Los Angeles had reached a deal with Bumble, the dating and social networking app where (in heterosexual matchups) the women have to contact the men first. The deal is reportedly for three years at about $20 million total.

It was the diversity of Steve Ballmer’s workforce — the Clippers have Gillian Zucker as President of Business Operations, the only woman in the NBA with that job and title — that helped drive the deal with female-led Bumble.

“Never before has a major professional sports team partnered in this way with a female-driven brand like Bumble,” said Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble founder and CEO. “It’s an honor to partner with an organization as progressive and compassionate as the Clippers. Like us, they know generating awareness for diversity and gender equality is critical to business success.”

“Through Steve Ballmer’s leadership, the Clippers have a clear commitment to diversity and equal opportunity,” said Zucker. “From our players on the court to our leadership team, we are proud to stand with Bumble and do our part to emphasize that diversity and gender equality in the workplace is essential to organizational excellence. Bumble’s message and technology provide a platform for women in new and non-traditional spaces and it’s important to the Clippers that we innovate and reach our fans wherever our fans are.”

A few app companies have chosen NBA jerseys as a good way to reach out — “Wish” with the Lakers, for example — but most of the business partnerships have been more regional: Harley Davidson with Milwaukee, Disney with Orlando, Goodyear with Cleveland, for example.