Kurt Helin

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings returns to court for Pistons

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Brandon Jennings is back.

The dynamic point guard who blew out his Achilles last season made his return to the court Tuesday night for Detroit in their game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Pistons announced it this way.

Jennings looked a little slowed and rusty, as to be expected, but it was good to see him getting a little run.

Expect his name to come up in trade talks. Before his injury Jennings was playing well, knocking down threes, and had a PER of 19.7. However, this past summer Stan Van Gundy gave Reggie Jackson an $80 million contract because of his chemistry with Andre Drummond, and with Jennings in the last year of his deal the Pistons will consider moving him. As he gets healthier, expect Van Gundy to showcase Jennings at the point more. That said, for a rental coming off a major injury, the Pistons are not going to get much in return for Jennings.

All that is speculation, the bottom line is it’s good to see Jennings on the court again.

Stephen Curry could be rested next two Warriors games

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There were reports that after the Warriors knocked off the Kings Monday that Stephen Curry was limping in the locker room. He didn’t show it on the court dropping a triple-double, but it was noticed after the game.

Which may mean some rest is coming for Curry, according to interim coach Luke Walton. Via Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group.

Officially, Curry as listed as questionable for Wednesday. The Warriors error on the side of caution with players and health, so don’t be shocked if Curry is out against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday and the Houston Rockets Thursday. I’d be surprised if he’s not rested for at least half of the back-to-back.

This is why the Warriors chasing 72 wins is still very early in the conversation — the Warriors’ 29-1 record puts it on the table, but as the season moves along the Warriors will make the health of their players the highest priority. Curry will get rested, as will Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and the rest of them. The Warriors will not care if that costs them a few wins.

If Curry sits out, expect to see a lot more Shaun Livingston. Leandro Barbosa did not make the trip with the team due to injury.

Report: Knicks’ players not sold on Derek Fisher’s grasp of Xs and Os

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Phil Jackson picked Derek Fisher to be the Knicks coach because he could sell the vision. This was a locker room leader, a former players’ union president, a guy respected around the league who the Knicks players would listen to — he could sell the culture change needed. And he could sell the triangle offense.

Sell it, sure, but how well does he know it?

Fisher played in the triangle for years, but some of the current Knicks’ players are not sold on his Xs and Os knowledge, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

According to a source, there’s a growing sense among some players in the locker room Fisher is viewed more as a “preacher’’ and “motivator’’ than an expert in-game tactician or Xs-and-Os master….

According to the source, Fisher’s assistant coaches, including Brian Keefe, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, are more versed in the strategic concepts. The source said Carmelo Anthony has come to Fisher recently to lobby for rookie Kristaps Porzingis to be more involved in the offense late in games to take the burden off him. Indeed, Porzingis had plays run for him down the stretch in Boston on Sunday.

Two thoughts.

First, is this a surprise?  Did anyone expect Fisher to be Rick Carlisle?

Second, it doesn’t matter. There are plenty of coaches in NBA history who were motivators or guys who could inspire first, then were Xs and Os guys second. That list starts with Phil Jackson himself, who was the best motivator and team builder the game has ever seen, but had Tex Winter — the inventor of the triangle offense — on the sidelines with him for a reason.

If you can get guys to buy into the system, it doesn’t matter if you are the master of that system, so long as someone on your staff is that guy. Jason Kidd is considered this kind of coach in Milwaukee, and there are others. Fisher and Kidd know the game, but they know people better. And in the NBA that’s a valuable skill.

Does Fisher lean on his veterans more than he should sometimes? Sure. So does every other NBA coach trying to win games now.

If the Knicks were winning more, this conversation would not be happening. But have a few losses in New York and the vultures always come out.

PBT Extra: Top five NBA moments of 2015

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You know the year of 2015 was a good one in the NBA when you try to put together a Top 5 list of moments and Chris Paul‘s runner to beat the Spurs in Game 7 — or Paul Pierce saying “I called game” — can’t crack the list.

Above I list out my Top 5 NBA moments of 2015. Just as a spoiler, I have the Warriors winning the title at No. 2, you can guess what is No. 1.

I just hope 2016 brings us as many thrills.

Mavs’ Rick Carlisle compares Stephen Curry to Steve Jobs

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As I sit here writing out this post on my Macbook, I don’t think I need to describe how Steve Jobs helped shape the world we live in. Even if you’re on a Samsung phone and a Toshiba laptop, Jobs’ vision changed your online experience.

In the world of the NBA, Stephen Curry is reshaping things. The astute Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle drew the comparison to the Apple founder, via Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (hat tip to Hoopshype).

“You’ve just got to try to make it hard on him. But you’re talking a guy that it’s a little bit like what Steve Jobs has done to our every day life. He’s changed the way we live. He and Bill Gates have done that, Steph Curry is changing the way the game will be played in the future.”

And here I thought Mark Jackson said he was bad for the game.

I’ve started comparing Curry to Joe Montana in this sense: Montana was a great quarterback with unique gifts, but he was the perfect QB for Bill Walsh and his offense. He had the perfect players around him to make it all work. The right guy in the right place at the right time. Curry would be fantastic anywhere, but Steve Kerr — not Mark Jackson, Kerr — put him and the other Warriors in the perfect offense to take advantage of those skills.

And that is changing the game. Not every team can mimic what the Warriors are doing with small ball, and not every team should try. But a decade from now every team will use some of the philosophy and sets we’ve seen with the Warriors, and there will be great young players bringing some of what Curry showed them to the table.