Author: Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder v Orlando Magic

Kevin Durant comes to Washington Wednesday, fans already buying Durant Wizards jerseys


The Washington Wizards are 29-13, if the playoffs started today they would be the No. 2 seed in the East ahead of teams like Toronto, Chicago and Cleveland. They would also be a real playoff threat — when Nene is healthy the Wizards are a tough out for any team. This is the kind of team a lot of fan bases dream about.

But Wednesday night at the Verizon Center, Wizards fans are not going to be dreaming of the playoffs or this roster. They are going to be dreaming of Kevin Durant in a Wizards uniform.

Ever since LeBron James chose to return home and play in Northeast Ohio, Wizards fans have dreamed that come that come the summer of 2016 Durant will chose to do the same, bolting Oklahoma City for The District.

There will be fans in the crowd Wednesday wearing a Wizard’s jerseys with Durant’s name on the back, and J. Michael of asked John Wall and Bradley Beal about it.

“It’s strange because he doesn’t play for us,” said Bradley Beal, who has beaten the Thunder in each home game since he turned pro three years ago. “Who knows what he’s going to do in the next couple of years. It’s kind of weird and it’s kind of cool at the same time to imagine that, to picture that.”

“It’s funny,” Wall said of the Wizards’ jerseys with Durant’s name. “It’s something you probably wouldn’t have thought about two or three years ago of having guys or free agents thinking of wanting to come here, or fans thinking about that. It’s fun. It’s exciting. (But) it’s a long haul away.”

As I’ve said before, if you talk to Durant at all on the free agency topic — and he does not want to discuss it — you get the real sense he doesn’t have any idea what he’s going to do in 2016. Which is the way it should be. Let this season and the playoffs play out, then see what happens next season, then get serious about a decision. While I think him remaining with the Thunder is the most likely outcome, at this point there are so many variables that could swing things in different directions it is impossible to know how things will play out. If Durant does decide to test the free agent waters there will be 29 other teams willing to do whatever it takes to get him on the roster. He is a franchise changing player.

But Wizards fans are dreaming. And it is kind of weird and cool.

LaMarcus Aldridge not traveling with Blazers for Suns game, to see hand specialist

Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets

LaMarcus Aldridge — the Blazers All-Star power forward and anchor of their team — left Monday’s game with what was called a left hand injury, and while the team said X-rays were negative there seemed something more foreboding about it.

Well, he’s going to miss at least one game and have a specialist check his hand out, reports Jabari Young of

Portland has already had one hand injury set them back this season, Robin Lopez has missed 17 games with a fracture (he just got the cast off in the last week).

While the Trail Blazers may be 3-1 without Aldridge so far this season they would not fare as well if there is an extended absence. Let’s hope that’s not the case for a guy who could well get put on the All-Star team by the coaches again.

Stephon Marbury talks frankly about depression, suicidal thoughts, rebirth in China (VIDEO)

Beijing Ducks v Guangdong Southern Tigers - CBA Final Game 5
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Stephon Marbury doesn’t pull any punches in his interview with HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Above is just a clip of the interview where Marbury talks about his father dying during a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and Isiah Thomas (then the Knicks coach) telling him after the game. At the same time Marbury’s on-the-court game had fallen apart and his dream of an affordable basketball shoe — the Starbury — was dying on the vine.

It sent him in a real depression. One that included suicidal thoughts.

Marbury talks about all that and his rebirth as a basketball icon in China, where he has led Beijing to two Chinese Basketball Association titles, where he has a statue in his honor, and where there has even been a play about his influence on the youth of the city.

Watch the full interview on HBO airing at 10 p.m. eastern and repeating on various HBO channels throughout the week, and on HBO On Demand.

Report: NBA considering moving D-League Showcase to Las Vegas

Image (1) D-league-thumb-250x256-12043.gif for post 2083
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It’s quickly growing into one of the must-see events on the NBA calendar — the D-League Showcase.

It took place last weekend in Santa Cruz, Calif. All 18 D-League teams came in played in one tournament event, showcasing the league’s talent, and allowing scouts and GMs one-stop shopping to get an in-person look at players they may want to try out on 10-day contracts. Already guys such as James Michael McAdoo, JaMychal Green, Quincy Miller and Tyrus Thomas got contracts out of the event. Plus, with all those front office people in one place trade rumors are flying off the walls.

The challenge for the league is becoming where to host it. The plan so far has been to move it around various D-League cities, but to be blunt as the event grows not every team and city has the facilities to accommodate the Showcase (arena, hotel rooms near the arena, restaurants, etc.). Plus, the front office types are willing to go to somewhere like Santa Cruz (and Reno before that) but would they return to Sioux Falls? Would they travel to Bakersfield?

They would travel to Las Vegas — home of the growing NBA Summer League — and the league has considered that kind of move, reports Scott Howard-Cooper of

The D-League is considering Las Vegas as a future stop for the Showcase even though the city does not have a team, commissioner Malcolm Turner said, a move that would deepen ties between the parent NBA and the gambling mecca….

“It’s one that we’re exploring,” Turner said. “It’s too early to say whether or not that is a strong possibility, but I think there are a lot of reasons why we would find it an attractive market to go to. Obviously that would work counter to … our teams hosting the Showcase. But Vegas is an interesting market for a lot of reasons.

“With NBA summer league in Vegas, we’ve had very good and strong experiences in Vegas. And certainly logistically and infrastructure wise, clearly that’s an easy box to check versus potentially some of the markets where we’re playing the D-League clearly there are some logistical hurdles. Las Vegas is set up to host big and significant events. That takes a lot of that (those hurdles) off the table.”

It may ultimately depend on the size of the showcase.

As a boutique event, hosting it in D-League cities makes a lot of sense. Why not bring it to Austin to promote the Toros, or to Canton to promote the Charge? If the city has the facilities, they should be able to host.

But as the event grows — and the showcase is growing as are the number of teams in the D-League — that list of cities will shrink. Then Vegas becomes a viable option. I’m not sure if the D-League Showcase is there yet, I don’t know if it needs to find a permanent home in Vegas.

But that day may be coming, sooner rather than later.

Giannis Antetokounmpo picks up assist off a jump ball (VIDEO)

2015 Global Games - New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks

You don’t see an assist off a jump ball every day.

But early in the third quarter of the Raptors/Bucks game, the 7-foot (and growing) Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up a jump ball against six-foot Kyle Lowry. It was pretty clear where this was going.

But rather than safely tap it back, the Greek Freak launches his tap toward the other end and lets Brandon Knight chase it down for an easy dunk and two points. Well played.

It wasn’t enough as the Raptors won the game 92-89.