Kurt Helin

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz

Anthony Bennett clears waivers; Raptors likely destination

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Anthony Bennett is going to be on an NBA roster this season — likely back in his native Canada.

But no team wanted to pay him $5.8 million to be on their roster this season. Maybe more importantly, no team wanted to decide by Oct. 31 if they were going to pay him $7.3 million next season. So he has cleared waivers and is now a free agent, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That makes him a free agent. Portland and Philadelphia have interest in him, but Toronto appears to be the frontrunner to land him.

The Raptors have 14 guaranteed contracts on the books, they can add one more. This will be a league minimum deal (or very close to it).

Bennett becomes the first No. 1 pick ever not to make it to the third year of his rookie contract before being released. The usual reaction is to call him a bust, but the reality is this was the Cavaliers’ mistake on draft night — most teams had Bennett in the 7-12 range on their boards (a few had him much lower), but the Cavaliers rolled the dice and took him with the top pick. That’s on them, not him.

That said, it’s too early to completely give up on him. Bennett is just 22 and entering his third NBA season, and while he’s never going to be a star it is possible he could develop into a solid rotation player. He’s shown flashes of quality play before — he did for team Canada this summer at FIBA Americas — but he hasn’t been able to sustain that into the NBA regular season. He also battled injuries, which impacted his conditioning.

If that’s behind him, he’s worth a roll of the dice on a minimum deal. Toronto has Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola at the four, there are minutes to be had if Bennett can earn them.

This summer, Canadian national team coach and Blazers assistant Jay Triano gave Bennett excellent advice — simplify the game, find a thing or two you’re good at and focus on just that. Bennett can rebound, he can run the floor, and if Toronto can bring him along this “bust” can help them. If not, no big cost.

Pacers announce dates for games with Hickory uniforms

George Hill Poses for Photos in Hickory Uniform
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Pacers will debut their new Hickory Huskers uniforms Nov. 6 at home against Miami.

Team officials announced Tuesday that they will be worn 10 times this season. Indiana is making the change to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie “Hoosiers.”

Indiana also will wear the uniforms for home games Dec. 23 against Sacramento, Jan. 26 against the Los Angeles Clippers, Feb. 24 against New York, March 15 against Boston and April 10 against Brooklyn and at road games Nov. 29 at the Los Angeles Lakers, Dec. 30 at Chicago, Jan. 13 at Boston and April 3 at New York.

Indiana also will have honorees at each home game including Crispus Attucks state championship teams from 1955, 1956 and 1959 and, of course, the “Milan Miracle” team of 1954.

Report: Thompson would sign for 3-years, $53 million, Cavs not moving

Tristan Thompson
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Tristan Thompson isn’t getting his five-year, max contract from the Cavaliers — so instead he wants a three-year max deal.

Not sure that the Cavaliers will go for this, but Thompson’s aggressive agent Rich Paul apparently wanted to try to spin the story his way with this leak Thursday to Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Great deal? I’m not so sure about that — Thompson isn’t lowering his financial demands, only the number of years. Former Nets executive and Twitter star Bobby Marks put it well.

For the Cavaliers, who are concerned about the steep luxury tax hit that would come with signing Thompson to the max — as well as the fact he’s not worth more than guys such as Draymond Green, nor the same as Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler — this does not alleviate those concerns.

Cleveland doesn’t seem to be biting.

Cleveland has a five-year, $80 million offer on the table — that’s $16 million a year on average — and they are not willing to go higher for the reserve power forward. They aren’t getting pressured by LeBron James. The Cavs are holding their ground. Unlike my colleague Dan Feldman here at PBT, I’m not in the camp that thinks the Cavaliers are okay signing him to a max deal, even with the television money coming in. I’m far from sold he’s the kind of irreplaceable player you throw max money at, and I think that’s the kind of contract they regret in a few years.

The question soon becomes, is Thompson willing to play for the qualifying offer of $6.7 million to be an unrestricted free agent next summer? Is he ready to bet that the flood of television cash in the market will net him a max salary in 2016 that makes up the difference in money he gave up this season?

Video to get you pumped for NBA 2K16 release Friday

NBA_2K16_cover_art-1
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Training camps open and real NBA basketball (or at least the training camp version of it) tips off next week.

But this Friday NBA 2K16 drops, so you can snap it up then spend your weekend trying to lead the Sixers to the title (well, in between watching football games). To get you pumped for the release, here is a little video courtesy the fine folks at 2K Sports. Enjoy.

Paul George not thrilled about playing power forward

2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade - 2015 Indy 500
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The NBA is going small, looking for floor spacing, and with their roster changes this past summer the Indiana Pacers are joining that trend. Which is why coach Frank Vogel is strongly considering Paul George as the Pacers’ starting power forward.

George doesn’t like that idea.

In two separate interviews, George clearly expressed displeasure at the idea. First, look what he told Candice Buckner of the Indy Star.

Here is what he told Sam Amick of the USA Today:

“Um, you know it’s, uh, I was open for – to try it out,” George said via phone while promoting his place on the cover of the NBA 2K16 mobile app. “It’s definitely a change. It’s something new. We’ll see how it goes. As the season goes, it might be better for me to just be at my regular position. But I told them I was open to the situation and (we’ll) see where it goes.”

I hope George does keep an open mind, because I think this could be good for him and the Pacers.

George is strong and physical enough to defend most of the fours in the East (it’s the West where the four is overloaded with talent), and on offense is ability to spread the floor with his shot will open things up for a Pacers offense that wants to play more up tempo.

Look at the top teams in the NBA — particularly the last two champions in San Antonio and Golden State — and what you see is versatility. They can go small, they can go larger, they can adjust to attack the weaknesses of their opponents (particularly in the playoffs). The Pacers can move that way, but it requires George being okay with playing some four.