Kurt Helin

Kevin Garnett makes it official: He is retiring after 21 NBA seasons


Next stop: Springfield, Mass.

Kevin Garnett, a power forward whose athleticism and skill helped redefine the position, has made official what had been reported all Friday: He is retiring. Here is his post on Instagram, saying he is thankful

To be continued…

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KG’s resume reads like a red carpet to the Hall of Fame: NBA champion, NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, nine-time All-NBA, 12 times NBA All-Defensive team, 15 time All-Star, and the list goes on and on. All of that doesn’t do justice to a man who was one of the most influential bigs on future generations the game has ever seen.

That class in five years with Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and KG, that’s going to be an induction ceremony.

51 Questions: Is Dennis Schroder ready for his starting role with the Hawks?

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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season. Today:

Is Dennis Schroder ready for his starting role with the Hawks?

This season, the spotlight in Atlanta will be on the big guy in the middle making his homecoming. Dwight Howard, with all his potential and all his questions, will be the man with a three-deep hoard of media members around him every time he speaks. He’s the guy who will get interviewed on TNT pregame. He will be the face of this team for many. Howard is the lightning rod.

But he’s not the biggest key to the Hawks season.

If the Hawks are going to stay a team that has home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, here is the question that matters most:

Is Dennis Schroder ready to be Atlanta’s starting point guard?

There are follow-up questions there: Can Schroder adjust his game to fit coach Mike Budenholzer’s ball-sharing style better? Can he turn the stretches of game-changing play into something consistent? Can players such as Paul Millsap adjust to Schroder’s style of shot creation?

For the past couple seasons — when the Hawks won 60 then 48 games — Jeff Teague was the point guard setting up the offense, Schroder came off the bench as a change of pace (and at times the two played together). Teague created shots off the pick-and-roll and was good about moving the ball to the hot hand — Millsap, Al Horford, Kyle Kover, whoever. Teague is more of a classic point guard who fit well with Atlanta’s team-first system.

However, in the clutch down-the-stretch moments of Games 1 and 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season (which the Hawks lost to the Cavaliers), Budenholzer turned to Schroder. Now he’s turned to Schroder full time.

Schroder brings a different style. A more aggressive style based around his quickness with the ball. Schroder is more shoot first — except his shooting needs to improve. Schroder shot 32.2 percent from three last season, and the undersized point guard shot just 52.8 percent inside the restricted area. He doesn’t draw a lot of fouls on those drives, either.

Schroder uses the pick-and-roll differently than Teague, the young German prefers to pound the ball more and probe with his dribble when he comes off the pick. That’s probably fine with Howard, who seems to hate to come out and set high picks then roll (even though that’s his strength) because of a warped idea that big men need to ball in the post.

The questions about the new point guard come down to this: Schroder isn’t as quick a decision maker in the half court as Teague, and his decisions often weren’t as good (they were looking for his shot, not others). That has to change, and he has to be more consistent if the Hawks are going to succeed.

On the other end of the floor, Teague was smart and steady, a quality defender. Schroder is undersized, struggles against big guards, plays aggressively and likes to take gambles for steals (he uses his length that way). The Hawks were 4.7 points per 100 possessions better defensively last season with Schroder on the bench (although there is noise in that number, how Schroder does with the other starters and Howard protecting the rim behind him remains to be seen).

It’s not hard to see why Budenholzer felt it was time to give the keys to Schroder. As nbawowy.com tells us, when Schroder, Korver, Millsap and Kent Bazemore were on the court together last season, the Hawks outscored their opponents by 12.8 points per 100 possessions (it should be noted Horford was on the court for the majority of those minutes). Overall, the Hawks outscored their opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions with Schroder on the court last season.

Echoing that kind of success for Atlanta this season is going to mean adjustments from everyone. Schroder has to be willing to give up the ball more readily and be a better facilitator in the half court. Coach Mike Budenholzer needs to modify his offense to play faster and more to Schroder’s strengths, plus blend in Howard (who plays the five in a very different way than Horford did on both ends of the floor). All of that is going to take some time and compromises.

The Hawks are all in on Schroder — his backup is a 32-year-old Jarrett Jack coming off an ACL surgery, he’s not taking over the job. It is Schroder that has to go from playing just more than 20 minutes a night to leading a team with playoff expectations. He can’t just do it in flashes anymore, and he’s going to have to compromise parts of his game to fit with his teammates. Starting and being a spark off the bench are very different roles.

Mike Budenholzer has bet that Schroder is ready for his turn in the spotlight.

Warriors’ Bob Myers encouraged coach Steve Kerr is healthy

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Bob Myers is encouraged by Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s offseason progress with debilitating, post-surgery back problems that last year sidelined him for the preseason and the first 43 games of the Warriors’ record-setting season.

That included an NBA-best 24-0 start.

Myers, who this week had the title of president of basketball operations added to his general manager position, said the reigning NBA Coach of the Year is ready to go and isn’t expecting Kerr to need a prolonged leave of absence – or any time away from the team at all for that matter. Kerr has dealt with excruciating headaches, nausea and regular pain following complications from two back surgeries last year. He often wore a neck patch during the postseason.

Kerr turns 51 next Tuesday on the first day of practice.

“I’m confident he’s in a much better place than this day last year because he couldn’t even coach in the preseason,” Myers said Thursday. “He came around when he could but that possibility’s been removed. And I see him every day and interact with him. He is in a better place and hopefully he is in a perfect place at some point. I think he’s working toward that but I have no doubt that he’s ready for camp and ready to go for the season. Last year, he wasn’t, he just wasn’t ready. It wasn’t really a possibility. This year, he’s absolutely doing it, so that’s a good improvement. He is trending in the right direction.”

The last thing Kerr wanted to talk about this week as he gears up for the start of training camp was himself. Bring on Kevin Durant to join two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Kerr knows how challenging it will be to mesh the egos and talent of a team with so many capable scorers, and he can’t wait to try to make it work.

Myers is realistic that this group will need time to come together, unlike the Warriors a year ago at this time that Kerr called basically a “finished product” and “we were the same team that won the title.”

“I do not see us being 24-0,” Myers said, “and it’s completely fine.”

Having Kerr healthy to lead the way will be important. Top assistant and now-Lakers head coach Luke Walton stepped in during Kerr’s absence last year to be interim coach, but Myers isn’t even thinking along those lines of Kerr needing a break this time around.

Both basketball men are eager to get going and see Durant in action with the Warriors.

“I just want to watch him play. I want to watch him play basketball and wear our uniform,” Myers said. “The hope is we’re going to look our worst on Tuesday. If you’re watching practice, I hope that it’s the worst it is, and if you come to a playoff game, you’re seeing an entirely different product. That’s our coaching staff, that’s Steve Kerr’s brilliance and the people he’s hired to really shape and mold this team.”

Golden State officials plan to invite Bay Area civic leaders to team headquarters for a panel discussion and educational opportunity for the players and organization when it comes to sensitive issues such as race relations and police shootings that Kerr denounced Wednesday . The idea is something Myers said was already in the works before a league-wide memo sent Wednesday night encouraging the idea.

“We have two choices: We can try or not try,” Myers said. “We’re going to try. There’s a level of understanding, there’s a level of responsibility among our players and maturity. A lot of them were already aware and engaged in this topic before this. … We’re just trying to do our little part.”

Report: Cavaliers re-sign Dahntay Jones, but only to training camp deal

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The Cavaliers added Dahntay Jones to the roster just as last season was winding down, giving them a veteran bench presence for their playoff run. He played a total of 50 minutes through the entire playoff run, but he made an impact and was there when Cleveland won its first title in 52 years.

In July the Cavaliers waived Jones. Now they are bringing him back but just with a non-guaranteed deal for training camp. The Cavaliers have 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster, once they re-sign J.R. Smith they will be at the max of 15. Meaning Jones only makes the roster by beating out someone Cleveland has to pay regardless. Joe Varden has the story for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Jones, 35, a guard, was waived following the 2016 Finals triumph, but is returning for camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Some speculation about Jones’ immediate future was generated this week when he showed in Santa Barbara, California for LeBron James‘ minicamp.

Jones was signed prior to the last game of the 2015-16 regular season (and scored 13 points that night), but managed to make an impact in the postseason from near the end of the Cavs’ bench.

He infamously punched Bismack Biyombo in the groin in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals (James promised to pay the fine, which was about $80). And he was used by coach Tyronn Lue for a few critical minutes in Game 6 of the Finals, going on a personal 5-0 run in the last 90 seconds of the first half and drew two fouls on Draymond Green to send the Cavs to the locker room up by 16 points.

He likely is not with them in uniform opening night, but Jones’ Cavaliers’ teammates are certainly welcoming him back. Jones is on the West Coast in Santa Barbara working out with LeBron James and most of the Cavaliers in preparation for the opening of training camp.

Great week of work #winteriscoming #defendtheironthrone #wemissswish

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Warriors GM hints team will rest players far more this season


It sounds like Golden State learned its lesson.

Because the players wanted it — led in particular by Stephen Curry and Draymond Green — the Warriors pushed hard through the end of the regular season last campaign to get to 73 wins. Was that the reason Golden State went down 3-1 to Oklahoma City then blew a 3-1 lead to Cleveland in the Finals? It was certainly not the only, or even the primary, reason.

But based on their words and plans for this season, they clearly think it was a factor. Look at what GM Bob Myers said, via Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News.

The Warriors stars did get more rest than it seemed for much of the season because they got to sit a lot of fourth quarters of blowouts. Plus, the NBA’s tweaking of the schedule to almost eliminate four-games-in-five-nights on the road and limiting back-to-backs is designed to keep players rested. And playing more games.

The trend of elite teams making sure their star players get plenty of rest is not going away. Call it the Popovich effect. And Golden State is now on board.