Kurt Helin

Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns: I want Kevin Garnett to teach me “how to be a champion”


Karl-Anthony Towns was impressive at Summer League. He showed a genuine feel for the game and a high basketball IQ, recognising plays and making fantastic passes. He has work to do on his game (like any rookie) but the potential was there.

More impressive than that was how he handled himself off the court. He came off as mature and a guy who gets it. He didn’t just make it by being drafted No. 1, he came off a s a guy who wanted to work and learn. That desire to improve is what separates players in the NBA.

Towns also wants to learn from Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, Towns told the Boomer & Carton show on CBS Sports Radio (Hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“The biggest thing that I want to really take away from Kevin Garnett, is learn how to be a champion,” Towns said on the Boomer & Carton show. “He has a ring. I want to get a ring also, in my career. Possibly multiple. I want to do that and I want to actually bring that to Minnesota first.”

There were stories from last season how, after Garnett agreed to be traded back to Minnesota (he had a no-trade clause he waived), the rookies would show up before practice only to find 38-year-old KG had already been there a couple of hours putting in the work. More than just discussions of technique or handling situations on the court, that lesson about work ethic will be more valuable than any.

Garnett showed up in Las Vegas during Summer League specifically to work out with Towns. Garnett is a walking encyclopedia of NBA knowledge if Towns is willing to tap into it. And it sounds like that is off to a good start.

Mario Hezonja had a few Summer League highlights (VIDEO)

Orlando Magic Blue v Los Angeles Clippers

Be careful reading much into any rookie at Summer League — what we see is simply a starting point. The real determining factor of success is how they grow from this benchmark.

The Magic’s Mario Hezonja only played a couple games in the Orlando Summer League before he was injured, but he showed the mixed bag you’d expect from a rookie. On the downside, he shot just 37 percent and had plenty of rough edges.

But he made some plays, too. Like the ones in this highlight package, which should give Magic fans good reason for hope.

Mason Plumlee rapping? Yes, Mason Plumlee rapping. (VIDEO)

Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons

Warning: If you play the entire video, the language is NSFW.

If you know anything about Will Roush, you probably know him as the guy who went viral saying he spent $4,500 for tickets on the glass to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Turns out, he’s a rapper.

Turns out, he’s tight with Mason Plumlee.

Roush tried to capitalize on this viral fame with his new track “4500” and you had to know Mason Plumlee was going to be part of it throwing down some lines. And playing with a money gun. I need a money gun (although I hope it can shoot $1 bills). Credit for the video to thebocinc.com.

Check out Roush and Plumlee talking about the song with our old friend at PBT Eyton Shander  in an interview on 97.5 the Fanatic in Philly.

As a reminder, Plumlee is going to be a West Coast rapper now, he’s playing in Portland next season.

James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers

The Miami Heat had until Saturday to make a decision on James Ennis: Guarantee his $845,000 contract for next season or buy him out for half.

The Heat wanted more time. Ennis gave it to them.

Ennis and the Heat are modifying his contract to allow Miami to put off that decision until opening night. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel breaks it down.

“…two sources involved in the process told the Sun Sentinel that the contract will be modified with no decision required until the eve of the season, when the Heat will have to decide to guarantee his salary for all of 2015-16…..

“The move with Ennis effectively eliminates Saturday as a contract deadline for the Heat. Forward Henry Walker, who had such a partial-guarantee deadline, was waived Monday. The partial guarantees for center Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson for Aug. 1 will be paid as scheduled on Saturday.”

Why would Ennis do that? Because he wants to make the team and he might not like the decision made Saturday.

Ennis showed an ability to finish at the rim and play a little defense as a rookie, but his play through the season was uneven, and he shot just 32 percent from three. Not ideal for a “3&D” guy. Then in Summer League he tried to play through an injury, but he shot just 30 percent overall and 11 percent from three.

I’m biased. I’m a Long Beach State guy, I’ve had season tickets for years, I watched Ennis through college. I want him to stick, prove he can play at this level.

But the Heat have Luol Deng and drafted Justise Winslow as the future at the three. Ennis is going to have to flat out ball in training camp to prove to the Heat he can be part of their future. He’s going to have to show growth in his game that was not evident in Summer League.

Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure


If you like hypotheticals, play around with this one:

What if Gregg Popovich had to walk away from the Spurs in the middle of last season?

So many questions come up, from how the Spurs perform through the playoffs to does Tim Duncan come back? Or does LaMarcus Aldridge come at all?

Popovich missed a couple games of Spurs’ games last November with no real reason given. Turns out it was a heart condition. Legendary coach Larry Brown talked about it with Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News.

His hip surgery had gone well, but there was a hiccup with a heart condition that was not unlike the atrial fibrillation that Fab Oberto had. Popovich underwent a procedure, and, after he had done everything the doctors had asked, palpitations returned.

Brown says the episode occurred during the preseason tour in Europe. That eventually culminated with Popovich missing two games in late November for a second procedure.

“I really believe he was close to retiring then,” Brown said.


For his sake, I am happy the second procedure worked. Also I’m happy for selfish reasons — the Spurs and the NBA will not be quite the same without Popovich. He can move on, he has other interests and likes to say he is not an NBA lifer — Pop is not Tom Thibodeau. Popovich has other interests. But we will miss him.

Fortunately, we’re probably four years from finding out what the league will be like without him, that’s how long Popovich has left on his contract. He has said he intends to coach until the end of it, and there’s little chance Aldridge comes to San Antonio without that commitment.

That he was healthy enough to make that commitment — and that he is heading to Africa to coach in an NBA exhibition game there next month — is a sign everything is back to normal.