Kurt Helin

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Mark Cuban says Draymond Green owes NBA apology for “owner” remark


“For starters, let’s stop using the word owner and maybe use the word Chairman. To be owned by someone just sets a bad precedent to start. It sets the wrong tone.”

That was Draymond Green, responding on Instagram to the Houston Texan’s owner’s comments about “inmates running the asylum.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, had a response for Green, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“For him to try to turn it into something it’s not is wrong,” Cuban told ESPN. “He owes the NBA an apology. I think he does, because to try to create some connotation that owning equity in a company that you busted your ass for is the equivalent of ownership in terms of people, that’s just wrong. That’s just wrong in every which way.

“People who read that message and misinterpret it — make it seem like we don’t do everything possible to help our players succeed and don’t care about their families and don’t care about their lives, like hopefully we do for all of our employees — that’s just wrong.”

Green decided not to further this discussion.

This speaks to perspectives.

Cuban, a renowned player-friendly owner, sees himself as owning a team that contracts with players. Cuban has worked hard to turn the Mavericks’ around — it was one of the worst run franchises in the league when he took over — and Cuban does care about his players in more than just how they can help the team on the court. He and other NBA owners do want to help families, they do want the players to grow as people be more than just guys who put a ball in a hoop.

However, it doesn’t always feel that way to the employees, in this case the players. They can get traded away from those families and that life on a moment’s notice if it’s what is good for the team, regardless of what the player wants. Players see themselves referred to as contracts or assets, and defined by the numbers they produce. We’ve all had jobs where we felt like a number, like a cog in the machine, and in some NBA organizations players do feel that way. They can feel owned, and that is an understandably charged word.

It’s also not going to change. Owners will remain owners. Technically I think Green is more correct — NBA team owners really function more as a chairman in many ways, with minority investors to keep happy and different departments needs to balance. It’s really just semantics, but as we see in every part of the world now, words carry great meaning. They are powerful.

In this case, both sides need to be aware of it.

Enes Kanter says Knicks games not shown in Turkey because of his political stance

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Remember over the summer, when the Turkish government revoked the passport of New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter? It was because Kanter is a follower of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who has fundamentally dictatorial powers now, and where human rights abuses are rampant — blames Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and used that as an excuse for a crackdown and consolidation of power.

One small part of that crackdown — Knicks games are not shown in Turkey because Kanter is on the team. That according to Kanter (who played last season in Oklahoma City), who spoke to Ian Begley of ESPN about it Saturday.

Enes Kanter says that there are no Knicks games shown on Turkish television, which he says is in response to his vocal public stance in opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip. “Last year they were showing all 29 games in Turkey but no (Oklahoma City Thunder) games because of all the politics, they were going crazy. So now, they are showing every other game (but) no Knicks,” Kanter said Friday. “Just because the president is crazy. It’s that crazy…. Last year, I saw all those people on social media they were saying we want to watch (Russell Westbrook) because they can’t watch because of me. Now, they want to watch Kristaps (Porzingis), all the other guys, they cannot watch just because of me.”

Kanter has said he wants to become an official United States citizen. Kanter is not going to stop speaking out on Turkish politics, even though it has led to the arrest of his father before.

Kanter is averaging 14.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game as the Knicks starting center, shooting 63.6 percent. He’s always been a quality offensive player but has shown little interest in the defensive end of the floor, and that made him a playoff liability in OKC. For the Knicks, he has been their best option at the five (outside of Kristaps Porzingis) and seems to have found a home.

Knicks fans love him… except for the children who went trick-or-treating at his house on Halloween.


Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I don’t like all these flashy cities like L.A. or Miami”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the first year of his $100 million rookie contract extension and will not be a free agent until the summer of 2021 — he has this season and three seasons after this one under contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. At that point, the Bucks very likely will be able to offer him the designated veteran max, meaning Milwaukee can offer 35 percent of the salary cap, while other teams can only offer 30 percent. (He would have to qualify by making All-NBA teams or being an MVP, but that seems likely).

Still, with the way Antetokounmpo is exploding — he leads the league, scoring 31 points per game this season — teams are circling 2021 on their calendars. The goal will be to lure him out of Milwaukee to maybe a better team or a better lifestyle, the way it has been done with other stars in smaller markets.

Except, Antetokounmpo loves Milwaukee. He’s Tweeted about this before.

And look at what he told Marc Stein in a fantastic profile at the New York Times.

“I’m a low-profile guy,” he said. “I don’t like all these flashy cities like L.A. or Miami. I don’t know if I could be the same player if I played in those cities.”

The recent passing of his father, Charlie, who he had moved to Milwaukee and was very close with, only adds to this.

“I can feel the love from the city every day I step on the floor,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “For me, what I’m going through now, I appreciate it even more.”

No doubt Antetokounmpo loves Milwaukee now, but we have heard Kevin Durant express his love of Oklahoma City and how much he loved playing there. That is what fuels teams thinking ahead.

Four years is a couple of NBA lifetimes. Antetokounmpo likely will still love Milwaukee in four years, but how will he feel about the Bucks’ organization? Where will the team be in the NBA pecking order at that time? Maybe he has no interest in leaving, but maybe the frustration builds. It’s far too early to predict.

The cautionary tale is in New Orleans right now, where the Pelicans have one of the five best players in the NBA in Anthony Davis on their roster but have not been able to put enough around him to even make the playoffs (they were swept out of the first round in 2015, the only time Davis has seen the postseason). Davis has two seasons plus a player options season on his contract after this one, but already there are a lot of teams drooling at the idea of the Pelicans feeling they have to trade him next summer or in the year after that instead of letting him bolt as a free agent in 2020, even though New Orleans will them be able to offer him the designated veteran super-max contract, too. (If the 4-5 Pelicans continue to stumble enough to miss the playoffs in the West, expect a basketball operations house cleaning to bring in people who can keep Davis in New Orleans.)

For now, we should sit back and enjoy the must-see TV that is Antetokounmpo. But know teams are planning, and know Antetokounmpo doesn’t seem to care. Right now.


Ben Simmons becomes latest player to have jersey rip in game


First, it was the Lakers’ Tyler Ennis. Then it was LeBron James.

Now the Sixers’ Ben Simmons has become the latest player to have his jersey get ripped during a game.

Friday night, Indiana’s Lance Stephenson pulled on the jersey, although to be honest in the video it’s not that hard a tug. Simmons and coach Brett Brown try to sell a foul based on the torn jersey, but there really wasn’t much there.

Nike took over the contract to make NBA uniforms starting this season (it had been Adidas). The company had said previously it was “very concerned” about the jersey tears and was looking into it.

Watch LeBron James drop 57 points on Wizards


Bradley Beal thinks the Wizards are the best team in the East.

LeBron James reminded Beal and all of Washington Friday night that the East goes through him until further notice.

LeBron drained threes, bullied John Wall in the post, and did whatever he pleased on his way to 57 points on 34 shots, adding 11 rebounds and seven assists. This is the shot chart of a man having a very good night.

This was also the night where LeBron became the youngest player to 29,000 points in NBA history.

This game in no way answered some of the effort questions, defense questions, or really any of the big picture questions we have about the Cavaliers this season. It was simply a reminder that LeBron is the best player walking the face of the earth, and when he wants to take over a game nobody is going to stop him.