Kurt Helin

UPDATE: Likely No. 1 pick Ben Simmons has signed with Nike

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While the Philadelphia 76ers refuse to admit it officially, that they are going to use the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to take LSU’s Ben Simmons is about as big a secret as Bruce Wayne being Batman.

Since he knows where he is going to land (and the size of the market), he sat down and hammered out a shoe deal with Nike, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and later confirmed by Simmons himself.

Adidas reportedly had a larger original offer was around $10 million plus incentives, and that was eventually increased to where it could be worth $17 million if he hit those targets, reports Nick DePaula of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. Nike’s offer ended up at around $12 million for five years.

Rookie shoe deals are sort of like other rookie contracts — it’s a lot of money to you and me, it’s a lot more money than these players have ever seen, but if they perform well the real money is in the next contract. Simmons has elite player potential, but there are questions about his motor and drive to get better. If he’s got that, Nike will have another star in the fold.

LeBron James on Game 3: “It’s a do-or-die game for us”


We all know the statistic: No team in NBA history has come from 0-3 down to win an NBA title. None.

Cleveland comes home for Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night down 0-2, and LeBron James is very clear about what all this means.

“Obviously, it’s a do-or-die game for us,” LeBron said at practice  We can’t afford to go down 3-0 to any team, especially a team that’s 73-9 in the regular season and playing the type of basketball they’re playing. So it’s a do-or-die game for us, and we understand that.”

Urgency — or as Tyronn Lue has said, “playing with force” — has been lacking for the Cavaliers this series. The Cavaliers have not won the battle for loose balls or on the boards, and that combined with inconsistent defense has left them looking overmatched. Playing with fire is the one thing that coming home should change for the Cavs.

Lue tried to put a more traditional spin on the first two games, saying the Warriors have only held home court and that now his Cavaliers just need to do the same. Sounds good on paper. The reality is they lost those first two games by a record combined 48 points and didn’t look competitive. Can home cooking change that?

“Just being at home, they won two games on their home floor, and we’re confident in coming back home here,” Lue said. “We haven’t lost here all Playoffs. We play very well, and our guys understand that. They’re a good team. That’s why they won 73 games this year, and they play well at home. They had two big games and now we’ve got to come home and protect our home court.”

The bigger question is how do the Cavaliers do that?

Lue was careful not to give away any strategy or lineup changes (such as if we will see more Timofey Mozgov), but he did preach that the team in general — and Kyrie Irving in particular — needs to stop being hesitant.

“Just talking to Kyrie about attacking, attacking early on in the shot clock,” Lue said. “Don’t let the switching make him stagnant. But he’s one of the players that we have on our team that can go one-on-one, because they’re switching one through five. But he has to make sharp, quick moves. He understands that, but we need Kyrie to be aggressive.”

If you want a more detailed breakdown of what to expect from Cleveland in Game 3, check out the latest PBT Podcast with Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman.

PBT Podcast: What does Cleveland need to do in Game 3?

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It’s been a rough first two games of the NBA Finals for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost those games by a record combined 48 points. And that’s without the Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson going off yet.

Cleveland heads home for Game 3 on Wednesday, what has to change for them to get back in this series? What are they talking about doing? Is it more LeBron James, or maybe a better Kyrie Irving than we saw in the Bay Area? And if Kevin Love can’t go what moves should the Cavaliers make?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it all down — and say they’re not sure if ultimately it will matter what the Cavs do.

The duo also debates how the Cavaliers handled Love’s blow to the head, and discuss Curry pulling out of the Rio Olympics.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, listen via the fantastic Stitcher app, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.


PBT Extra: If Kevin Durant wants to win a title he should…


Kevin Durant is by far the best free agent on the market this summer.

Like every free agent, he says what matters most is winning and a good basketball environment. The difference is, since he’s a max contract guy wherever he lands, for KD it is true — he can make his decision for basketball reasons.

But where is he going to go that is closer to a ring than Oklahoma City?

I can think of $85 million reasons to sign a one-year deal with the Thunder, but the best one is OKC is the second best team in the NBA. Jump to the East now and that is far from guaranteed, a trip to the conference finals is almost assured but which of those teams is better suited to get him a ring than the Thunder?

I lay this all out for Jenna Corrado in the latest PBT Extra.

Blake Griffin’s Dunk Contest car dunk would have been better done his way


It was the ultimate evolution of the prop dunk: Blake Griffin dunked over the hood of a Kia Optima, with Baron Davis throwing him an alley-oop out of the sunroof, while a gospel choir sang in the background. It was the dunk everyone remembers from the 2011 All-Star Dunk Contest, and it won Griffin the event (even though it wasn’t close to the best dunk of the night).

That dunk would have been much better if Griffin could have done it his way.

Here is what Griffin told Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast (hat tip and transcription via Sports Illustrated):

“I wanted to jump over a convertible, but I wasn’t allowed to. It had to be a Kia Optima,” Griffin said. “I wanted to have Baron Davis and some of my teammates roll out in a convertible, and then just toss it straight up and jump over the whole thing, instead of just the hood.

“I don’t know if you guys have stood next to a Kia Optima, but it’s a pretty tall vehicle, and there’s no way I was going to make it over the entire thing, over Baron Davis in the sunroof. So I opted for the hood, and then everyone was pissed that I jumped over the hood, like, ‘that was super easy,’ so it was just a lose-lose situation for me.”

Marketing. The NBA is a vehicle for marketing. Don’t ever forget that.

It makes you appreciate the prop-less Zach LaVine/Arron Gordon showdown this past February all the more.

Griffin’s dunk would have been much better done his way. Or if Kia had a convertible. But alas, it is what it is. And by the way, JaVale McGee should have won that Dunk Contest.