Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Jazz’s Alec Burks getting back to his dynamic ways

1 Comment

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Jazz wing Alec Burks is nearly healthy after two-plus years of injuries and he has started to look like the player Utah signed to a four-year, $42 million extension in 2014.

Burks has scored in double digits in five straight games, including a season-high 15 Saturday against the Grizzlies. He’s shown flashes of that unique athletic ability around the rim and shot an efficient 60.5 percent during this stretch.

To the delight of coach Quin Snyder, Burks has also played well on the defensive end and is being used in a three-wing lineup without a point guard.

“It’s a different lineup,” Snyder said Monday. “I like the efficiency. What Alec does for us, he comes in and gives us a boost off the bench. I think he’s done a very good job defending the ball. That’s also a point of emphasis. If we can defend the ball with his size and athleticism, that can be a strength and an important thing for us.”

It’s taken a while for Burks to get back to this point.

Burks missed 50 games with a fractured left fibula last season and returned, possibly too early, to play three of the final four games of the 2015-16 season. He then missed the first 34 games of this season dealing with ankle issues, including arthroscopic surgery and rehab from left ankle debridement.

Snyder and Burks said it’s just a matter of time before he’s fully back from the ankle surgery in November. Now he needs on-court time to get his timing back and to get used to teammates who joined the franchise during the summer. The team even assigned him to the D-League Salt Lake City Stars for a practice and game.

“I think I’m taking a step every game,” Burks said. “I don’t think I’m all the way back yet to where I was preinjury. But that’s a long process and I’ll get there. I’m making some passes I’m not used to making. Turnovers. Just the overall comfort with my teammates, chemistry because you know we’ve got new teammates. … It’s great. With the type of injury I had, you never know if you’re going to be back to who you were before the injury. It’s great to see that I’m close to where I was.”

Burks said that’s why it took him so long to return. He’s an above-the-rim player near the basket and they wanted to make sure the leg was stable after missing those 50 games last season.

Those flashy midair moments are what let everyone know Burks is nearly back to his normal self, but those moments can also get him in trouble with turnovers or bad shot attempts.

“Sometimes when he’s under control, he doesn’t look it because he’s so dynamic,” Snyder said. “There’s no question there’s been times where we’d like the degree of difficulty to be a little bit less with some of the things he does. But he is who he is, too, and he’s effective.

“You don’t want to change something that’s a strength. You want to kind of mold it and modify it. I think he’s continuing to understand how he can best be effective.”

Burks laughed when asked about that unique style of play. He acknowledged he’s still working off some rust and said he’ll improve from a five-turnover game in the loss to the Grizzlies on Saturday.

“(General manager) Dennis (Lindsey), Quin, everybody’s on me about my finishing,” Burks said. “But that’s what everybody likes me doing. I’m trying to simplify as much as I can, but I just react off of instinct.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the Jazz continue to work on Derrick Favors‘ health. He missed 13 games with a left knee bone contusion in November and December and hasn’t shown the light-footed athleticism that made him one of the league’s better big men last season. The Jazz held Favors out to rest Saturday and he didn’t participate in the contact portion of practice Monday.

Snyder didn’t know if Favors would ever be completely healthy this season.

“It’s hard to define 100 percent,” Snyder said. “I’m not 100 percent of what I was. He’s approaching that, absolutely. It’s just a process for him. A lot of that just comes through having a chance to be out there and be healthy and continue to play. Even though you physically feel great, now you’re kind of weaving in the skills and the timing and all those things. My hope is yes, and he’s pretty close right now.”

Carmelo Anthony speaks in third person about trade rumors: “‘Melo hasn’t said anything yet”

6 Comments

Carmelo Anthony isn’t getting traded without Carmelo Anthony’s permission. That’s because of Phil Jackson — and let’s be honest here, probably on orders from owner James Dolan — gave Anthony a no-trade clause.

And Carmelo Anthony wants you to know he hasn’t said anything about waiving that clause yet. Not for the Clippers, not for the Cavaliers, and not for the Celtics.

The brilliant Jeff Zillgitt at the USA today talked to Anthony about all the trade rumors, and Anthony answered the question in the third person. Which is the best part of his answer.

“I hear the new report every day,” Anthony said Tuesday morning. “Every day is a new team. ‘Melo said this, Melo said that.’ Melo hasn’t said anything yet. That’s what I will say. Melo hasn’t said anything yet….

“That’s more about what I care about — my family, my son being comfortable in New York and at an age now where he really gets an opportunity to understand being in New York and having a home there and having friends there and my wife working there and having her opportunities there,” Anthony said. “I think about that more so of my decision for my career. At the end of the day, it will come down to my decision, but I think about what my family is thinking and what they’ll have to go through if anything.”

When he was a free agent, Anthony decided to stay with the Knicks for two reasons: More money and his family wanted to be in New York. Two very valid reasons. He’s got the money now if he waives that clause — more actually, he has a 15 percent trade kicker. But the family considerations are real.

That doesn’t mean Anthony will not waive the clause, he told Zillgit that the direction the Knicks want to go and the place the other team is in — and yes, if he has friends on it — all will be considerations. But like you and me making a big career decision, there are a lot of factors in play.

For Phil Jackson, the real problem with getting this deal done will be finding a deal that he likes. Teams are taking on a hefty salary for a 33-year-old player, they are not sending guys at their peaks back. It’s going to be a combination young players, role players, and picks if the Celtics are in play. And not as many of any of that as the Knicks want.

I still bet he doesn’t get moved until this summer. But the rumors will continue for another three weeks until the deadline passes.

 

Derek Fisher’s home burglarized, five championship rings reportedly stolen

Getty Images
7 Comments

When a home is burglarized, the criminals usually go straight for the jewelry and the electronics.

When Derek Fisher’s home is burglarized, the jewelry could include five championship rings.

NBC Los Angeles has confirmed that the San Fernando Valley home of the former Lakers’ star and current studio analyst for Spectrum Sports (the Lakers’ LA cable network) was burglarized. An estimated $300,000 in jewelry was taken, according to NBCLA.

TMZ reports Fisher’s five championship rings were stolen.

Law enforcement sources tell us the NBA legend reported a burglary at his home Monday morning — telling police he left the home at 7:30 AM and when he returned 3 hours later, it was clear someone had been inside.

We’re told officials believe the perp got into the house through a side door — and went for his jewelry. Among the stolen goods was Fisher’s 5 NBA rings he won during his run with the Lakers. They’re each worth a ton of cash.

No arrests have been made.

Rumor: Kings, Suns discussed DeMarcus Cousins trade. Don’t bet on it happening.

Getty Images
3 Comments

I would take this rumor with an entire box of Morton’s Kosher salt.

But since DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors are harder to kill than a T-1000 Terminator model, here is the latest one, via John Gambadoro Arizona Sports.com — the Kings and Phoenix Suns have been talking Cousins.

Gambadoro reports the discussions have centered around involving small forward T.J. Warren, center Alex Len, Phoenix’s first-round pick this year and possibly more. The Suns own all of their future picks and also own two future Miami Heat first-round picks from the Goran Dragic deal.

Sacramento has the need for a lead point guard and 2017’s draft class has point guards near the top of many mock drafts, including Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. Gambadoro said Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker would not be in the deal.

Remember, Bledsoe and Cousins played together at Kentucky.

Never say never, but here’s the list of reasons I don’t think this has any chance of happening.

• Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is still the biggest Cousins backer in the Sacramento organization, and if the owner doesn’t want a trade to happen it doesn’t happen.

• In fact, there are reports that Ranadive and the Kings plan to offer Cousins a designated player contract this summer worth north of $207 million (the final numbers depend on the salary cap), and I have heard the same thing. Also, Cousins plans to sign that contract. If you’re saying to yourself “but Cousins isn’t happy in Sacramento” you’re not wrong, he’s been frustrated with management for years. However, money talks. The most the Suns could offer him (post trade) is going to be $6 million less just the first season alone compared to that Kings contract, and even if Cousins eventually signed a fifth max season with the Suns he would be leaving at least $36 million on the table to go to another team. Who is leaving that money on the table?

• Would the Suns want to do this kind of deal, especially keeping Bledsoe and Booker? Damn straight. But it takes two to do this tango. That said, a good way to make sure your fan base knows you’re trying to make a big move is to leak stuff like this.

• Talk to other teams around the league about dealing with the Kings and you often hear about how they don’t think the left arm knows what the right is doing there. For example, there will be talks with one Sacramento person about a deal, but when another person in the organization is contacted the teams are told something different. It’s been better of late, but there can still be conflicting voices within the organization. Which is to say maybe the Suns had some level of discussion with a Kings’ representative, but it may not be the people with the hammer on this decision.

• If you’re Cousins and you want to get out of the dysfunctional organization that has been Sacramento, do you really want to go to Phoenix now and work for Robert Sarver?

Charles Barkley fired back at LeBron: “Clearly he Googled me and found out some things”

27 Comments

Charles Barkley’s “get off my lawn” worldview that everything NBA was better when he played than it is now — see hating on the Warriors and their style — includes taking shots at LeBron James. Shots for being friends with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, and recently saying LeBron was “inappropriate, whiny” for voicing his belief the Cavaliers need roster help this season to compete with the Warriors (if you’ve watched the Cavs in the last month and not thought that, I worry about your hoops IQ). Monday a frustrated LeBron fired with both barrels at Barkley.

“I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying. All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”

Dwyane Wade had LeBron’s back.

Barkley went on the Waddle & Silvy show on ESPN1000.com and answered back. Here are his comments, via Rachel Nichols of ESPN.

So Barkley’s old flaws don’t matter, but LeBron’s do?

Also, Lebron is 32, he didn’t have to Google this like it was Civil War era trivia, LeBron lived through the Barkley era.

LeBron is the first star of the social media age and with that has come a level of instant and high volume criticism other stars did not have to deal with. Michael Jordan is unquestionably in the conversation for GOAT — and most people would give him the title — but can you imagine now NBA Twitter, or Barkley and the Inside the NBA crew, would have treated him during the seasons the Pistons were drilling his Bulls every year in the playoffs? Or when he decided to leave the game for two years to go play baseball?

Barkley is entertaining and certainly speaks for some people who have mythologized the 90s as a grand era in basketball, ignoring the clutching, grabbing, and dragged down pace of the game that made it a grind to the point the game’s skilled players had little room to operate. If that was your era, your style, then enjoy it.

But if you — or Barkley — are dismissing LeBron as not one of the all-time greats, if you seek to tear him down all the time, that speaks more to you than anything else. LeBron should and will go down as one of the most gifted and best players the game has ever seen. We should savor these players while we get to watch them, not constantly try to tear them down.