Kurt Helin

<> at TD Garden on November 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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.

It’s official: Suns sign Chase Budinger for rest of season

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This is the time of the year front offices should and do consider inexpensive rolls of the dice — and if that plays well with the fan base, all the better.

Enter Chase Budinger, who officially signed Tuesday with the Phoenix Suns, as had been expected since the Indiana Pacers cut him loose to make way for Ty Lawson. Budinger signed for the veteran minimum.

Is Budinger going to find a fit in Phoenix? The better question may be will his knees let him? Budinger was a solid NBA role player (8.1 points a game, shot 35.4 percent from three) with fantastic athleticism. However, he underwent a couple of major knee surgeries, which robbed him of that bounce that was at the heart of his game. Without it, he never could find a role this season in Indiana. He may not succeed in Phoenix, but with all their injuries and roster turnover he can get a little run and try to prove he belongs.

Why this works for the Suns is that Budinger played his college ball at Arizona, where he was very popular. This move is well received by the fanbase, in a season where they haven’t had much to get behind this season. Even if Budinger doesn’t work out, it plays well.

Not a bad roll of the dice during a lost season.

Mark Wahlberg to produce movie on Caron Butler’s life

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 04:  Caron Butler #31 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on November 4, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Well, it’s got to be better than the Entourage movie.

Mark Wahlberg is not just Dirk Diggler anymore, the actor is now one of the more successful producers in Hollywood. He’s behind “Invincible, “Boardwalk Empire,” and “The Fighter” among many other things (including the excellent Entourage series, not to mention a chain of burger joints with its own reality series attached), and now he has taken a liking to Caron Butler‘s life story, told in the book Tuff Juice.

Butler announced he sold the rights to Wahlberg to produce the movie.

Rights deal complete… @markwahlberg 💯#TuffJuice #UseYourPlatformToInspire#PartnerShip#TuffJuicePromotions

A photo posted by Caron Butler (@caronbutler) on

Butler’s story of growing up poor in a tough environment in Wisconsin, where he sold drugs for a while but was saved by basketball and people who cared, is truly inspiring. It could make a fantastic movie.

So who plays Butler? He told TMZ he wants Michael B. Jordan. I could see that, he should have been nominated for an Oscar for “Creed.” Then again, if they want an Oscar nominationWahlberg probably has to play Butler.

Butler is playing a limited role for the Sacramento Kings this season.

Nets hire Trajan Langdon as assistant general manager

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25:  The Brooklyn Nets logo adorns center court prior to the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Barclays Center on November 25, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of 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 Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired Trajan Langdon as assistant general manager.

The former Duke star had a successful international career playing for Russia’s CSKA Moscow, owned by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He has spent the past few seasons working for the Spurs and Cavaliers organizations.

He was a pro scout for San Antonio from 2012-15, where he worked with new Nets GM Sean Marks, and has been with Cleveland since September as director of player administration and basketball operations.

Marks was hired last month to replace Billy King and said he planned to expand the Nets’ staff. He says Tuesday in a statement that Langdon “brings a unique combination of NBA and European experience to the position.”

Billups: If Knicks want to attract top point guard, have to ease up on triangle

<>during the second quarter at TD Garden on March 4, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.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.
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If you think elite point guards like the triangle, you should try asking Gary Payton about it sometime.

In today’s NBA, elite point guards want the ball in their hands and the chance to make decisions off the pick-and-roll — and teams need someone good if you want to contend. Think about the top six teams in the NBA right now and who they have at the point: Golden State (Stephen Curry), San Antonio (Tony Parker), Cleveland (Kyrie Irving), Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook), L.A. Clippers (Chris Paul), and Toronto (Kyle Lowry). Those guys all have great talent around them (and other decision makers to share the load), but it’s not a coincidence elite teams in the modern NBA have elite point guards.

The Knicks want one — Mike Conley is at the top of their free agency wish list. Pair him with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis and you have something to build upon.

But former Knick and now ESPN commentator Chauncey Billups warned the New York Post that if Phil Jackson and the Knicks are wed to the triangle landing that point guard will be difficult.

“I will tell you this about that triangle,’’ Billups said. “If I’m a top point guard and a free agent, I’m not going to want to be playing in that triangle. A point guard needs more pick-and-roll, more freedom. It’s going to be restrictive to my play. I think that would be a good thing — if they are opening it up a little. It’s the only way to get a point guard.’’

The Knicks are going to swing for the fences again this summer, going after Kevin Durant, Conley, and the other big names on the market (Al Horford would be an odd fit, however). Anthony wants to be at that table. Style of play and how players will be used in the Knicks system is a big part of what will matter to them. The triangle will come up in discussions, and while it has won plenty of rings in the past it’s up for debate if it can do that the way the rules of the NBA are currently enforced (zone defenses, no hand checking on the perimeter).

The more interesting question in New York this summer will be if ‘Melo is willing to move on from the Knicks and allow a trade (he has a no-trade clause).

LeBron James says Cavaliers not ready for playoffs yet. Obviously.

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James waits during a timeout in the final minute of the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, March 7, 2016, in Cleveland. The Grizzlies won 106-103. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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Right now, with about 20 games left in the season, is when teams headed to the playoffs — particularly elite teams — focus on execution, making sure they have built good habits, defensive rotations and all the little things that determine success in the postseason.

LeBron James said the Cavaliers are not yet ready.

Hard to argue with him after Cleveland dropped a game at home Monday to a Memphis team without Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes, Courtney Lee (traded), and other key players. Heck, the Cavaliers didn’t look ready for the regular season Monday. Here is what LeBron and Kevin Love said postgame, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I can sit up here and say that we’re a team that’s ready to start the playoffs tomorrow, but we’re not,” LeBron James said after the Cavs trailed by as many as 14 before losing at the buzzer when Kyrie Irving missed a potential game-tying 3. “We’re still learning. We still have things that happen on the court that just, that shouldn’t happen.”

“We just could have done a better job of respecting the game,” Love said. “A team like that, they were going to come out and swing for the fences, and they did. That was a real bad loss for us. … Turnovers were terrible. That was what I mean, respecting the game.”

The Cavaliers had won three in a row coming in, but it’s hard to write off Monday’s result as a one-off night for the Cavaliers — they have looked like a talented team playing next to each other not with each other all season. LeBron and Kyrie Irving are not on the same page. They look vulnerable. Something Chris Mannix laid out beautifully at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports recently.

The Cavs remain atop the Eastern Conference standings and have the equalizer – James – that no team can account for. But teams can account for everyone else. Strategies are simple: Pick-and-roll Love to death, move the ball patiently against an opportunistic defense, and hope James doesn’t have a Herculean fourth quarter in him.

Irving remains a dynamic scorer, but the disconnect between Irving and James is real, several scouts and coaches told The Vertical, with the on-court chemistry between the two, said one scout who saw Cleveland play recently, “basically nonexistent.” Team sources insist the relationship is solid, that James is simply teaching, trying to raise Irving’s basketball IQ. No one understands Irving’s importance more than James, team sources told The Vertical, which is why no one is working harder than James to get the two All-Stars on the same page.

This has been evident for a while. It’s also something Tyronn Lue was not going to be able to fix taking over mid-season, if at all. Lue can preach sacrifice all he wants (particularly to Irving), but until the players work things out and buy in there is only so much any coach can do. (Where guys like Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson excelled is getting players to buy in, but that’s another discussion.)

The Cavaliers have the home stretch of the regular season to straighten things out, and to be honest even playing as they are now Cleveland is the best team in the East — but not by much. Their margin for error against a team like Toronto — who beat Cleveland two out of three this season — is small. The Cavaliers need to get better to ensure they make the NBA Finals.

Then they can think about the juggernauts out West.