Kurt Helin

Kings old arena

Sacramento Kings to use awesome Arco Arena retro court for six games

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Next season, the Kings are moving into a new arena in downtown Sacramento, a state of the art building.

For the team’s six “Friday night flashback” games the rest of this season — plus the final contest — the team will play on a retro court designed to look almost exactly like the court at the Arco Arena when the team first moved to Sacramento in 1985. The court will have the Kings logo at center court, the original baby blue framing, and the “SACRAMENTO” on the baseline will be in the original font.

“Our final season at Sleep Train Arena has been filled with opportunities to look back at our rich history,” said Kings President Chris Granger in a statement. “This court is a special way to salute all of the fans, players and coaches who have helped us build toward a proud future in Sacramento.”

While there is always nostalgia, nobody is going to miss Arco/Sleep Train that much, it’s one of the more outdated buildings in the league. Plus the new arena looks fantastic. But I love this idea to celebrate the old look on the way out. Those baby blue uniforms are some of my favorite throwbacks.

Report: At All-Star Weekend meeting, majority of owners favor ads on jerseys

Western Conference's Kobe Bryant, of the Los Angeles Lakers, (24) reacts during first half NBA All-Star basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, Feb.14, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Did you see it during the All-Star Game? The jerseys worn by every player had a small KIA patch on the left shoulder area, an ad about the size of a golf ball. Jersey manufacturer Adidas had a logo on the other shoulder.

Expect that to become the norm sooner rather than later.

The NBA has been inching toward this for years — this is the second year in a row with an ad on the All-Star jerseys — and when the owners met in Toronto to talk business the majority supported the idea, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Lakers have a 20-year, $4 billion local television deal — they can afford to take a moral high ground. Other owners who don’t have that kind of cash flow will see things differently. (That Laker broadcast deal does have ratings ties and may end up being worth a little less than estimated — Laker ratings are down 16 percent this season despite the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.)

While the purists will scream, those little golf-ball size ads are not intrusive or going to destroy the integrity of the game — the NBA isn’t going NASCAR here, nor is this suddenly a European soccer jersey ad placement. It’s a tiny patch. If Kia and McDonalds and other league sponsors want to pay for those ads — revenue that will be split among the teams (exactly how still to be determined) and with the players — it’s not that big a deal.

I’d wager the majority of fans watching either didn’t even notice the KIA ads on the All-Star jerseys, or did and looked right past it the way they do Cheez-Its being in the Big Brother house in that show. Or that key characters driving Hyundais in The Walking Dead. O Playstation getting placement in House of Cards. It’s unobtrusive, and not a slippery slope.

And whether you and Jeanie Buss like it or not, it’s coming. Sooner rather than later.

Anthony Davis, Chris Bosh and the evolution of the NBA big man

of the game at American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
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Toronto was witness to the latest evidence of the evolution of the big man in the NBA — not during Sunday’s All-Star Kobe Bryant love vest, but on Saturday during the Skills Competition and Three-Point Contest.

Four big men competed in the skills competition — previously the domain of quick little guards — and Karl-Anthony Towns won it, knocking down his three first to beat Boston’s diminutive Isaiah Thomas. Miami’s Chris Bosh was set to compete in the three-point competition until his health issues got in the way.

That evolution of the big man and his role in a modern NBA was a topic throughout All-Star weekend for those trying to adapt to changing roles.

“The whole game has evolved,” said New Orlean’s Anthony Davis, one of those big men in the Saturday Skills Competition. “I don’t think there’s too many traditional big men anymore. Guys grab a rebound and push it up the floor and starting plays, stretching out to the three now. There are no traditional big men, but that’s the way the game has evolved….

“Everybody’s gotta be versatile now, and that’s the way the game has evolved.”

But this evolution is not one size fits all. There are the all-around skills of someone like Davis or Towns, the length and shooting of Kristaps Porzingis, the polished midrange game of LaMarcus Aldridge (who follows in the footsteps of Dirk Nowitzki), or the freakish athleticism of someone such as DeAndre Jordan.

DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are the two best players close to a traditional big man in the Association, but they bring other skills to the table — Cousins can hit threes (as he did in the All-Star Game), and Drummond is so athletic he can defend the pick-and-roll out on the perimeter.

“(Drummond) is a freak of nature,” said Bosh, who himself is a good pick-and-roll defending big on the perimeter. “He’s mobile, he can guard, and he’s very athletic.

“That’s what you need to be. The slower big man is kind of easing out a little bit. If you’re slower, you need that outside touch, it’s very important. But a guy like him, his athleticism helps him survive.”

Bosh hits the nail on the head. The day of Mark Eaton clogging the paint are gone — and it’s because of changes to the rules and changes in players.

The rules changes in 2004 were the first dominoes in what has become a modern NBA — no more hand checking on the perimeter so that skill could show through, and zone defenses were allowed. That first rule means if you have a big who can create a little space and get a shot off on the perimeter, he’s going to be able to operate — think Nowitzki and his one-legged fadeaway.

The zone defense means you’re not just going to be able to throw the ball to a big in the post and let him go to work — if you’ve got a strong post player I can have a defender fronting him and another helping behind before there is even an attempt at an entry pass. It becomes very had to get the ball to a big just standing on the block if the defense makes stopping that a priority. That puts value on bigs who can come out and set the pick then pop out for a jumper — Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol — or can be a beast rolling to the rim (the Clippers’ Jordan).

Bottom line, you must have some versatility to your game.

Modern NBA bigs have that versatility because they grew up idolizing and modeling their game more after Kevin Garnett and Nowitzki than Shaq (because nobody gets the physical gifts of a Shaq but once every generation or three). Today’s bigs come into the league with a range of skills (or, at least, a foundation of them for teams to build on) that allows a coach to use them in different ways depending upon the matchup.

All this doesn’t mean that these bigs don’t want to see the center designation return to the All-Star Ballot. Don’t bet on that happening (although at Adam Silver’s address it was said it would remain on the All-NBA ballot).

And if you ask DeMarcus Cousins, the center position isn’t going anywhere.

“I think the center position is very much alive…. It’s a trendy league, that’s what’s trendy right now,” Cousins said of small ball. “I’m sure that changes again down the road…

“We got a lot of great bigs coming in — Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil (Okafor) — there’s a lot of great talent coming up, so we shouldn’t disrespect the position.”

Report: Charlotte trades for Courtney Lee in three-team deal

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 23: Courtney Lee #5 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on against the Washington Wizards in the second half at Verizon Center on December 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Washington Wizards won, 100-91. 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. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The Charlotte Hornets are the eight seed in the East but have lost their best wing player in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the rest of the season following another shoulder surgery.

Enter Courtney Lee.

The Hornets have acquired Lee in a three-team deal still being finalized, a trade first broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Let’s break this down by team.

Charlotte gets a guy in Lee who can help them make a push into the playoffs — he is a 3-and-D guy who will fit well next to Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum on the perimeter. What they gave up is not something they felt was a critical part of the future.

Miami lands a veteran backup guard in Brian Roberts but mostly gets Chris Andersen off their books to save some money (it lowers Miami’s luxury tax hit by more than $2 million).

Memphis has me wondering: is this the first of several moves as sellers? Maybe not, there are certainly justifiable things in this deal for Memphis. Landing Andersen makes sense in that it gives them another big with Marc Gasol now out with a broken foot. They don’t have their first-round pick this season (top five protected), so they are not tanking. They get a project in P.J. Hairston and a couple of picks. This is a small step back, but Lee was going to be a free agent this summer. On the other hand, if the Grizzlies are going to make big changes this would seem the first step.

Probably not, the Grizzlies like their core and want to keep Mike Conley this summer, but it’s something to watch.

Report: Chris Bosh has returned to taking blood thinners, hopes to play this season

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 26:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on January 26, 2016 in New York City.   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.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Chris Bosh admitted he was a little down, having to pull out of the All-Star Game in Toronto. He had been looking forward to the weekend in the city where his NBA started to grow, even laughing about still getting booed at times.

But when he pulled out due to a strained calf, there was concern from the beginning that this could be part of the return of the blood clot issue that last season got to his lungs, threatened his life, and kept him out of the team’s final 30 games.

It is blood clots, and doctors are on it quickly this time, reports Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

Bosh was asked about the potential for the return of clots on Saturday in Toronto and tried to play it down to those of us pressing on the topic.

“I tried to treat it and all these things, but it’s just one of those funny things where if you feel like it’s not really turning a corner, you know calves can turn into really major, major problems,” Bosh said of his decision to pull out. “Any other circumstance, I’d try to push through it, but it just didn’t make any sense to do it.”

He added he wanted to get team doctors and specialists to look at it. They did, and that’s why he’s back on medication.

He hopes to return to the court this season; it’s unclear if he will be healthy enough to do so.

This throws a blanket of uncertainty over the Heat — both in the short term running up to the trade deadline, and long term with how the franchise is built. Pat Riley has a lot on his plate now.

But that pales in importance to the health of Bosh, one of the kinder and more thoughtful players in the NBA. We wish he and his family nothing but the best.