Kurt Helin

Manu Ginobili compares Kawhi Leonard’s leadership style to Tim Duncan’s

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Tim Duncan is gone.

Well, not entirely, he’s shown up at Spurs training camp, but Duncan is no longer a member of the Spurs going through the daily grind of getting ready for the NBA season. This is Kawhi Leonard‘s team now, and to a lesser degree LaMarcus Aldridge‘s team. But Leonard is the younger player who came up through the Spurs system. He’s the long-term future.

So how do Duncan and Leonard’s leadership styles compare? Pretty well if you ask Manu Ginobili.

Manu told the Argentinian newspaper La Nacion that a lot of things feel different in the Spurs locker room this season (hat tip to Hoopshype, who did the translation as well).

“I feel we will miss (Duncan) more as the season progresses, though. Now everything is new and we’re focused on playing well. Anyway, making it to the locker room and seeing another person in his place is, without a doubt, odd. It’s been 15 years together; his presence brought a lot of different things. But I insist it’s going to be felt more during the course of the season. It also feels strange not having Boris (Diaw) and Matt (Bonner), who were key too. Those are big absences. Boris’ is felt on and off the court. Matt’s more off the court because he played less. Those two players made me feel comfortable on a day-to-day basis and everything was enjoyable. I could talk with them about things not related to basketball. I’m going to miss them a lot from a personal standpoint.”

Manu is the old guard of the Spurs, a team that is different this season (although not terribly younger or more athletic). Ginobili had friends who have moved on, but he has one more run in him.

And even though things feel different, this should be one deep run with the Spurs.

LeBron James complains and quickly the NBA is upgrading its app

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It’s good to be the King.

The NBA’s official app — which is pretty much essential if you’re an NBA fan — got an upgrade before the season started. And like every upgrade ever, it had some people complaining and a few bugs.

LeBron James rightfully didn’t love the new box score layout on the app, which isn’t terribly user friendly. Like a lot of us having customer service issues, he complained on Twitter.

Unlike the rest of us, when LeBron complains there is a response with action.

It’s good to be the King.

DeMarcus Cousins’ reaction to Kevin Durant on the Warriors is perfect

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Kevin Durant is a member of the Golden State Warriors. You don’t have to like it, we can theorize about ways this new superteam might go sideways and spin off the road, but in the end, we all know what is happening — they are clear-and-away the team to beat in the NBA, the title favorites. You watch them in the preseason and think, “How can they be guarded?” Ask yourself this: Who would you take to win the NBA title, Golden State or the field?

DeMarcus Cousins remains in Sacramento, which is only 90 miles from Oracle Arena but is an ocean away in terms of organizations. Ethan Sherwood Straus of ESPN caught Cousins’ reaction to Durant after the two teams played Thursday, and it was perfect.

Observing

A post shared by Ethan Sherwood Strauss (@sherwoodstrauss) on

Cousins speaks for a lot of people here.

Report: Cavaliers, J.R. Smith remain millions apart, neither side blinking

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Consider this an update on where things stand with J.R. Smith and his contract impasse with the Cavaliers. Nothing new here, but it’s a concise recap of where things stand right now.

And they stand $4 million apart.

Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer did a Q&A with readers, and not-so-shockingly there were a lot of Smith questions. Starting with, what’s the deal?

The Cavs… are waiting for Smith to sign the deal they offered him. Smith is waiting for them to up their offer. The team offered somewhere between $10 million and $11 million, annually, while Smith is looking for more like $15 million annually. Isn’t this fun?

The Cavaliers have reportedly offered a deal in the four-year, $42 million range. That doesn’t work for Smith and his agent.

So, is there a timeline to get this done?

Good question. The answer is no. For example, the Cavs signed Dahntay Jones on the final day of the regular season last year. He remained on the team throughout the playoffs and played meaningful minutes in Game 6 of the Finals. Smith is an unrestricted free agent, but the Cavs have the right to give him a lucrative contract (go above the salary cap, or offer him above the veteran’s minimum) so long as he remains a free agent. Any deadline would be an arbitrary one. Either team owner Dan Gilbert draws a line in the sand, or Smith does. Or neither side does that and this thing gets worked out amicably.

Eventually, they will reach a deal, it just may take longer than LeBron James wants.

Remember that the Cavaliers already have the highest payroll in the NBA, $8.6 million into the luxury tax before signing Smith — throw in the repeater tax and a $10 million Smith contract costs the team $40 million. So they are hesitant. From the perspective of Smith — and LeBron — that’s not his problem. The owners are raking in money from the new television deal as well, the Cavs sell out everything at home and on the road, and the value of that franchise skyrocketed when LeBron returned — the players think Dan Gilbert has made plenty of money off them and shouldn’t balk at paying a little back to win.

Another team could sign Smith if they have the cap room (the Sixers, Nets, and Nuggets all have close to $15 million in space) but Smith said he isn’t looking around. This is between him and the Cavs.

The Cavaliers need J.R. Smith come the playoffs, but even if he were to miss an extended part of the regular season (which I don’t expect, but it’s a hypothetical) it wouldn’t matter — Cleveland would be the top team in the East with the best record. Smith’s agent (Rich Paul, who also reps LeBron) is a guy who likes to win every deal and will push this farther than most.

But eventually, a deal will get done, and this will all be looked back on as silly posturing.

Report: Bucks offered Carter-Williams to Kings for Ben McLemore, was shot down

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The Milwaukee Bucks are going to miss Khris Middleton and they know it. He was a rock-solid, 18-points-a-night, strong defender who was the glue that made the otherwise mismatched pieces in Milwaukee work. He is out for most if not all of the season following surgery on a torn hamstring, and the Bucks are trying to find a replacement. They got Michael Beasley, but “glue guy” would not be the best description of his game, so the Bucks keep looking for trades.

They tried to get Ben McLemore out of Sacramento, but that failed, according to a report from Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Bucks, sources say, have since offered former Rookie of the Year guard Michael Carter-Williams to the Sacramento Kings in a trade proposal for Ben McLemore and will continue to probe for potential deals after the Kings rebuffed that pitch for 2013’s No. 7 overall pick.

Good move by the Kings. Carter-Williams is what he is — an inefficient scorer who is turnover prone, but can make some plays on defense. He is an NBA rotation player, he has value, but is probably best suited as a backup point guard.

On the other side, while he has disappointed so far, a lot of teams still like McLemore’s potential, both as a shooter and on defense. There is a sense around the league that if he were put in a different situation, he might blossom more like what is expected of a No. 7 pick. The Kings are still convinced they are turning everything around (and keeping DeMarcus Cousins long term) and McLemore finding a role he thrives in under coach Dave Joerger is part of that. They kept the better player in the deal.

Any team that wants them can get Carter-Williams or Greg Monroe out of Milwaukee for a fair price — as has been the case since last summer. Still, both are on the Bucks, which shows the level of interest around the league. Still, expect the Bucks to keep trying to find a deal and maybe one of them at least moves later this season.