Kurt Helin

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Heat sign guard Larry Drew II for training camp

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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat have signed guard Larry Drew II, who will be heading to training camp with the team for the third time in five years.

Drew helped the U.S. win gold at the FIBA AmeriCup this past weekend. He has been in 96 games with Miami’s NBA G League affiliate in Sioux Falls, averaging 10.8 points and 7.8 assists on 48 percent shooting – and holds the league record with a 23-assist game in 2014.

He has also played internationally in Lithuania and Puerto Rico.

Drew was in camp with the Heat in 2013 and 2014. His lone NBA experience came in a 12-game stint with Philadelphia in the 2014-15 season, where he averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 assists. He played with the Sixers in the 2017 NBA Summer League.

Current, former NBA GMs say tampering is commonplace

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Sort of like speeding down an almost empty midwestern freeway, tampering in the NBA is something everybody does. The goal is just not to get caught.

The Lakers, specifically GM Rob Pelinka, got caught and paid a hefty $500,000 fine for it (although it could have been worse, the NBA said there was no deal between the sides, at which point they could have blocked George coming to the Lakers).

The incident put a spotlight on tampering in the NBA, which is something everybody does. Everybody. Look at what current and former executives told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.

“If you’re not cheating by the letter of the law,” says one former GM, “you’re not trying.”

Adds a current Eastern Conference GM: “You don’t get free agents without it. [Tampering] is what the whole league is built on. That’s the only way you can get anything done….

“If you’re an agent and you wait until July 1 to find out what your client’s options are, you’re going to get fired. You’ll be sitting there while your client’s options are falling off the table.”

Ever notice that at 12:01 Eastern on July 1, a minute after NBA free agency has begun, deals are announced. The only way that happens is with tampering. The two sides — the team and the player’s agent — have worked out the deal before free agency opened, they just couldn’t announce it yet.

Teams put out feelers and ask to see if there is interest in Player X coming to their franchise, if it is worth even pursuing. If it is, the sides get a sense of what the other is looking at concerning finances just to make sure they are in the ballpark. That way when July 1 rolls around, teams have an idea where to focus their resources.

Of course Pelinka wanted Paul George‘s agent to know his team was interested — you think the Lakers are the only team to do that? If so, you’ve also probably given money to help that poor Nigerian prince. The only difference is everyone around the league knows George has his eyes on L.A., the Magic Johnson interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live ticked off the Pacers owner, the Pacers then asked for an investigation, and Rob Pelinka left enough of a trail he got caught. However, if you don’t think Pacers president Kevin Pritchard has tampered, well, again, that Nigerian prince thanks you for your help.

There should be a broader discussion of if tampering is even something worth enforcing in the modern NBA. Right now it works about as well as stopping speeding on the highways of America. The Lakers let George’s agent know they were interested when he becomes a free agent next summer — so what? Was this news worthy of a fine? Now, if the two sides worked out a deal that involved off-the-books compensation in keeping a salary down — the Joe Smith/Timberwolves case — that’s different (and Bucher’s report says that still goes on to a degree). But the Lakers could have had Julius Randle, who shares an agent with George, go to him and recruit him and the league is good with that, the NBA league office will not stop player-to-player recruiting. Assistant coaches on Team USA are head coaches in the NBA who get to build relationships with the game’s elite with the NBA’s full approval. The line is fuzzy, poorly enforced, and seems an issue of times gone by.

The Lakers former GM, Mitch Kupchak, notoriously played by the rules and didn’t contact agents until July 1. How did that work with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant — Kupchak’s Lakers were starting weeks behind everyone else in the process. Pelinka was playing the game, he just got caught.

And this Lakers’ fine isn’t going to stop anyone from tampering, just like that ticket doesn’t stop speeding.

 

 

Pennsylvania farmer creates “Trust the Process” Sixers corn maze

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No, Sam Hinkie has not taken up farming.

There’s a real buzz among Sixers fans about their team, which showed its potential last season for 31 games when Joel Embiid played. Now Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz will take the court with him (knocking on wood) and there are reasons for hope. Former GM Hinkie’s “trust the process” mantra to help fans through the dark days of the rebuild has become a rallying cry thanks to Embiid.

The R & J Farmers Market in Souderton, Penn., has taken it to another level with this corn maze.

The most impressive part is Rich Alterman did that without a GPS, he just drew it out on a graph then did it by hand (when the corn was younger and smaller).

We all just hope the Sixers can get healthy, on the court, and start living up to all the hype.

(Hat tip 247 Sports and CBS 3 in Philly).

Report: Pistons’ Reggie Jackson not yet cleared for basketball activities

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With six weeks to go until the NBA season tips off, there is plenty of time for a player to get healthy, cleared by doctors and be ready for tip-off on opening night.

But after Reggie Jackson missed the start of last season in Detroit, was not himself when he did return, and that set back the entire team, and it never recovered, this news from Stan Van Gundy is a bit concerning.

Here’s a longer quote, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“He should be good to go for the start of camp,” Van Gundy said after the Little Caesars Arena ribbon-cutting ceremony today. “I don’t think on the days we do two-a-days that we’ll have him do two (practices), but other than that, the hope is he’ll be ready to go.

“You never know, but he should be.”

Jackson has battled knee tendonitis for a while, and it kept him out the final nine games of last season as well. The Pistons are understandably not going to push him hard on the return, trying to keep Jackson healthy for the long term. And there is time before camp for him to get healthy.

Make no mistake, the Pistons need Jackson. Ish Smith played fairly well behind him last season and is back this year, and Langston Galloway provides some depth, but if the Pistons are going to make the playoffs in the East they need a healthy Jackson for most of the season.

Danny Ainge says Kyrie Irving will be better playmaker in Boston

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Kyrie Irving is unquestionably an All-Star, one of the biggest names in the game, and an elite scoring machine.

But is he a franchise player? Can he set up teammates and defend well enough to the best player on a title team?

Celtics head man Danny Ainge is betting big that he is.

Ainge praised Irving speaking to the media in Boston.

If you prefer the written to the video, here is the core of his comments:

“You’ll see that he’s a better passer. I think people that watch Kyrie play a lot can see his passing and his potential there as a passer. LeBron was pretty much the point guard in Cleveland and Kyrie was a point guard often when LeBron wasn’t on the court. I think that he’s a fantastic passer and I think that defensively he’s got to improve and I think he will in Brad’s system”

Certainly, if you watch a lot of Cavaliers games you see the nights Irving sets every up, and he can rack up 15-20 assists in a game without blinking. He has that in him. Just like Irving can play good defense when focused. The question is will Irving do that night in and night out, because we’ve heard his comments from him in the past about needing to just do what he does. He broke out of sets and went into isolation plenty in Cleveland. He didn’t focus on defense in the last NBA Finals, is he going to care in November and December now?

If Irving buys in, if he is willing to move the ball and be more of a playmaker — and maybe see his scoring numbers drop a little — for the betterment of the team, he can thrive in Brad Steven’s system. Stevens loves plays where a ball handler gives it up, makes a cut and gets it back, and dribble handoffs with him and Al Horford could be devastating. It’s about commitment.

The question with Irving is not does he have the talent and potential to do all this and take his game to the next level. The question is will he make that commitment night in and night out? That’s what he has to prove, and Ainge has bet he will.