Kurt Helin

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Jason Kidd on comparing Lonzo Ball to him: “it’s a stretch”


It’s no secret: Lonzo Ball is struggling to shoot the ball to start his NBA career. The rookie out of UCLA is shooting 29.5 percent overall and 23.1 percent from three, hitting just 32.8 percent as the pick-and-roll ball handler but just 25 percent if the defender just goes under the pick, as is becoming more common), and 32.6 percent on drives.

Ball’s defenders point out that future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd started out in the NBA struggling with his shot, too.

Jason Kidd was on ESPN’s First Take and called the comparison a stretch.

“And so far it’s still early in his career, and as someone said earlier, it’s a stretch. He has to understand what it means to play hard and what it means to win, and how to win at the highest level. And it takes time.

“In three years, hopefully there’s a better comparison, but right now it’s a stretch and he has a way to go.”

Two thoughts here. First, while Kidd was not a great shooter to start his career, he was a good defender early on and an All-Defensive Team player by the third season. Ball should improve on defense, but he’s not that guy, he does not bring everything Kidd did to the table out of Cal.

Second, and I’ve been writing this a lot lately, Lonzo Ball was always going to take a little time to develop into the NBA player the Lakers drafted him to be. He entered the league with the court vision, the passing, and the “it” factor that gives him the potential to be special, but he’s still a 20-year-old rookie just playing his 12th NBA game Thursday night. The shooting, the level of conditioning, learning to finish around the rim when defended, playing under a little more control — that was all going to take some time. Now he’s pressing. Everyone needs to tune out his father, be patient, and give Lonzo a chance to find out who he is going to be in the NBA. It can’t be rushed.

Chicago to host 2020 NBA All-Star Game

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The last time the NBA All-Star Game was in Chicago, it was 1988 — the year Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins had one of the (if not THE) greatest All-Star Dunk contest ever. Then in the showcase game, Jordan dropped 40 points, led the East to the win, and was named MVP.

In 2020, it looks like the All-Star Game returns to the Windy City, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

This has now been confirmed by multiple sources. The Bulls are not going to officially confirm this yet — the NBA doesn’t like it’s press conferences upstaged — but the deal is done.

A number of cities had bid on the 2020 and 2021 games, from Indiana through the Golden State Warriors (who will be in a new building by then). Chicago won the first round. All-Star Weekend is more than just the game, it’s three-days of on-court activities including a fan fest, community events, and parties — official and unofficial — all throughout the host city.

The 2018 All-Star Game will be in Los Angeles, then in 2019 the game has been awarded to Charlotte.

Jason Kidd fined $15,000 for criticizing officiating

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Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd knew this was coming.

After his team lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-119 Tuesday, Kidd said “I just got fined” after pointing out that in the previous three games combined opponents had shot 55 more free throws than his Bucks (95-40). Kidd said, “The different crews that we’ve had have been awful.”

Thursday Kidd got what he expected, the league fined him $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating.

There have been a lot of stars frustrated with calls this season. Kevin Pelton at ESPN did the math and James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and others have seen their percentage of fouls per shot attempt go down — guys are not getting the superstar treatment from referees quite the same way this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is in that mix as well. It’s going to be an adjustment for players. And coaches.

Maybe Kidd will get his point across with the comment and fines. He seems to feel it was worth it.

Will Ferrell told LeBron James to run for president


Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban is considering throwing his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential election (as an independent?). He said he probably will not, because his wife and family don’t want him to, but he’s considering it. If not in 2020, maybe down the line.

It would be awesome if he had to run against LeBron James.

Comedian Will Ferrell was on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers this week and told the story of running into LeBron during the playoffs and telling him he should run for president.

“I went over to LeBron, I was like, ‘I just have to say hello. How are you?’ And I said, ‘I was just telling my wife the other night that you need to run for president. You’re from the Midwest. You’re very famous, you’re very popular, you’re very articulate. Please run for office.’ So, LeBron, I’m telling you now… we need you.”

Technically, we don’t elect Kings in the United States.

That said, considering everything going on in the political sphere right now, does President LeBron seem all that crazy? It’s not like he’s going to do a worse job.

Marcin Gortat on Wizards rocky start: ‘We are in a s***hole’

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When Gordon Hayward went down just 5:15 into the season, one of the themes that came up was that the door had opened for the Wizards to make the Eastern Conference Finals and challenge the Cavaliers. (Turns out the Celtics are just fine, and the Cavaliers are the ones with pressing questions.)

However, the Wizards are 5-5 to start the season, they have an unimpressive defense that is 20th in the league, and they have lost to Dallas, Phoenix, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

You could say the Wizards look nothing like a contender. Or, you could be far more colorful and direct, as Marcin Gortat was talking to NBC Sports Washington.

“Sorry for my language, but we are in a s***hole. We’ve gotta get out of that hole and start to win some games,” he said. “We’ve gotta show up, show up at the game as NBA players who want to compete and play hard every possession. Take pride in what we do. That’s the most important thing…

“This is super disrespectful. Bottom-line, I feel embarrassed for those games,” Gortat said. “We definitely owe a huge apology to our fans for our performance. That’s not who we are and that’s not who we want to be in the future.”

He’s right. After the loss to the Lakers a couple of weeks back, Bradley Beal was honest and said Washington did not take Los Angeles seriously, and it cost them. That has been true other nights this season as well.

Maybe the Wizards need Scott Brooks to go Durham Bulls’ manager to burst into the showers postgame.

Beal and John Wall also talked before the Wizards took on the Cavaliers, about how they think they can play with and beat the team that has dominated the East the last three years. LeBron James then went out and dropped 57 points on them and handed Washington another loss.

Here’s the thing: LeBron brings it nightly. He has another gear he saves for the playoffs (or specific nights, or even possessions, during the season), but the man is averaging 28.9 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 9.1 assists, and 7.5 rebounds a night this season. For going on 15 seasons, LeBron has had guys targeting him and going at him every game, and he rises up to that — he is mentally tough. The Cavs are stumbling to start the season, but that’s not on LeBron (mostly, anyway).

Can you say that about the Wizards? Gortat has your answer right now.