Kurt Helin

Kyle Lowry walks back to locker room during game to “decompress,” faces crititicsm


After a first half where the Raptors had hung close with the Cavaliers, things were starting to unravel a little. You could feel Cleveland was starting to take control of Game 2, more than that as they got hot there was nothing Toronto could do about it.

With 2:35 left in the first half, the ice-cold Kyle Lowry subbed out of the game — then went on walkabout back to the locker room.

It ended up being during one of the most critical stretches of the game, and Lowry just walked off — not injured, not followed by training staff, just by himself. Lowry was criticized on the ESPN broadcast for it, while the NBA Twitter reaction ranged from confused to ripping him (online this, combined with former Lowry mentor Tyronn Lue saying Lowry wanted to get together with him Wednesday to watch the Thunder/ Warriors game, led to a lot of questioning of Lowry’s priorities and toughness).

After the game Lowry was asked about his walk.

“Just to kind of decompress, get back there, kind of relax my body and relax my mind,” Lowry said. “And knowing that we had a chance to kind of make some things (happen). I wanted to get myself going and get my teammates going and get the team going. It was nothing more than just kind of to decompress, breathe and get back out….

“I’ve done it plenty of times. It’s just now with the magnitude of the situation, it shows a little bit more.”

It was an odd thing to do at an odd time. Clearly Lowry was frustrated — he was 1-of-8 from three in Game 2, and he has 18 points on 8-for-28 shooting through two games against the Cavaliers — but leaving the court to gather oneself at a critical juncture of the game doesn’t seem the most supporting thing a teammate can do.

Toronto isn’t going to win a game in this series without All-Star level Lowry playing, and so far that guy has been missing.

Report: Milwaukee Bucks’ players’ financial information potentially compromised in scam

Milwaukee Bucks New Court
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NBA players have been falling victim to financial scam artists for as long as the league has been around. These are men in their late teens or 20s who are now incredibly wealthy and who struggle to adjust (just like you and I would have at that age), and sometimes the people pretending to have their best interests at heart — including family — are just trying to get rich on the player’s back.

This is not that. This is the kind of breach of sensitive information American shoppers are all-too used to of late — and it appears the Milwaukee Bucks’ player’s information was released by a team employee who fell victim to a scam. Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports has the story.

In an email sent to Milwaukee players on Wednesday night, the franchise termed the issue as a “serious security incident” and took responsibility for an employee distributing 2015 IRS W-2 documents in an email scam in which team president Peter Feigin was impersonated, sources said.

The W-2 information included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, compensation information and dates of birth. An unknown party requested the private documents on April 26, and the Bucks ultimately discovered on May 16 that the financial forms were sent to a spoof hacker, according to the email sent to players.”

The NBA, NBA players’ union, IRS, and FBI have all been notified by the team and involved, according to the report. The team is providing the players with two free years of credit monitoring as a result of this.

As you might imagine, some players — and their agents — are very pissed off. Understandably. There need to be safeguards with teams (the same way there are at my employer and yours). That said some of the biggest data leaks in the United States — most notably, the release of inside documents from Sony Pictures — came because an unwitting employee either fell victim to a scam or phishing expedition, or clicked on an attachment in an email from one of these scammers. Welcome to the digital age.

Hopefully, nothing comes of this for the players.

Report: Magic reach deal to hire Frank Vogel as new coach

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 29: Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers talks with his players during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on February 29, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 100-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Frank Vogel had his choice of jobs, but hen he looked around the landscape the young talent in Orlando caught is eye — Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja, and whoever the team picks at No. 11 this NBA Draft.

Now we’ll see what he can do with it — Vogel and the Magic have reached a deal to make him the new head coach of the Magic, a story broken by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

The Orlando Magic have reached a deal in principle with Frank Vogel for Vogel to become the team’s new head coach, the Orlando Sentinel has learned….

Team officials sped up their search because Vogel had received interest from three teams with coaching vacancies — the Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.

Vogel was the best coach on the market, and he is an upgrade over Scott Skiles, who unexpectedly resigned from the position last week with three years left on his contract.Skiles had differences with management about the club’s commitment to some of the youth on the roster. Vogel beat out Magic assistant coach Adrian Griffin for the job.

Vogel makes sense following Skiles — he’s a defensive-minded coach who can build on the improvement seen on that end of the court last season, but Vogel will do it with a much more positive attitude. Vogel’s players in Indiana also liked him; he was let go because Larry Bird thought Vogel had been there too long and his voice had gotten stale. Skiles burns guys out.

There will be some pressure on Vogel — this is an organization expecting to make the leap into playoff contention.

Report: Expected Top 10 pick Jaylen Brown not hiring agent, using union to negotiate rookie deal

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11:  Jaylen Brown #0 of the California Golden Bears brings the ball up the court against the Utah Utes during a semifinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah won 82-78 in overtime.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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When a lottery-level (or any first round pick) player signs with an agent, it needs to be a decision based on comfort level, and potentially ability to help bring in shoe and sponsorship dollars down the line. It’s not about negotiating the first contract, there is a set rookie scale, and while a team can offer (and most do ) up to 120 percent of that scale, the number is the number. It’s not until the second (and sometimes third) contract where a skilled negotiator helps.

Seeing that, Cal’s Jaylen Brown is going without an agent. Except for shoe deals. Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports have the details:

California freshman Jaylen Brown – No. 4 in The Vertical’s 2016 NBA mock draft – will pass on hiring an agent and consult with the National Basketball Players Association on his rookie contract, league sources told The Vertical…

There’s little, if any, room for negotiation in rookie contracts, and Brown wants to take time to learn the industry before eventually committing to an agent, sources said. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has slotted salaries for first-round draft picks, although many agents don’t take commissions on those first deals for high-level players.

But some agents do, and Brown could save between $300,000 as the No. 3 overall pick to $150,000 at No. 8 on commission fees over the four years of the contract.

Brown is an athletic but raw 6’7″ wing player — he has all the tools to be a quality rotation player on an NBA team, but it’s going to take time to get there. Right now he relies on that athleticism and strong build to get to the rim, but he’s going to need to develop more skill to thrive at the NBA level. He can get there, but it will not be immediate.

Brown also is an outside-the-box thinker (clearly), and if he’s comfortable with this it seems a wise move. That should attract teams, not make them shy away, but in a risk-averse NBA, who knows.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis lead NBA All-Rookie Team

Minnesota Timberwolvesï' Karl-Anthony Towns, left, looks to make his way around New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis, of Latvia, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Often when picking the NBA Rookie teams (we at PBT showed what our ballots would look like), you’re scrambling to find guys who fill out the second team and weren’t terrible. The picking can be slim, the dregs if you will.

Not this year — it ended up being a deep rookie class. Obviously, stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis were in, but this year the second team could turn out to have some future  All-Stars.

Here are the teams (with their vote totals in parenthesis, 260 is the max), as voted on by 130 selected media members:

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (260)
Kristaps Porzingis, New York (260)
Devin Booker, Phoenix (231)
Nikola Jokic, Denver (186)
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia (186)

Justise Winslow, Miami (151)
D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers (142)
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver (140)
Myles Turner, Indiana (139)
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento (50)

Other players receiving votes:
Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte, 47; Josh Richardson, Miami, 47; Stanley Johnson, Detroit, 42; Trey Lyles, Utah, 26; Bobby Portis, Chicago, 13; T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 7; Mario Hezonja, Orlando, 4; Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers, 3; Norman Powell, Toronto, 3; Justin Anderson, Dallas, 2; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn, 2; Boban Marjanovic, San Antonio, 2; Jonathon Simmons, San Antonio, 2; Jerian Grant, New York, 1; Marcelo Huertas, Los Angeles Lakers, 1; Raul Neto, Utah, 1; Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City, 1; Joe Young, Indiana, 1.

Yes, Marcelo Huertas got a vote as a 32-year-old rookie (from Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report).