Kurt Helin

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D’Angelo Russell hasn’t called Kobe Bryant yet, doesn’t want to bug him

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Kobe Bryant is busy these days. He works out, takes trips to China to sell shoes, hits the gym, spends time with his family, goes to a court to get up a bunch of shots, swings by a Taylor Swift concert, and then at some point works out a little.

The Lakers new star rookie, No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, would like to pencil himself into one of those windows. Probably during a workout.

But he hasn’t done so yet because you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, he told Mike Trudell of ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, as reported by Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

It’s okay D’Angelo, text Kobe and say you want to work out with him. He’ll likely text back to come over right now, he’s already been in the gym for an hour.

Here are some other highlights from the interview, via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation.

Amar’e Stoudemire feels he can return to All-Star form

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There was a day when Amar’e Stoudemire was one of the most feared players, one of the toughest covers in the NBA. He was athletic, versatile, inside-out four long before that became trendy. He was a guy worthy of a max deal, he was a cornerstone player — if he could stay healthy.

The last four seasons the injuries have won out. Stoudemire has missed more than a third of the possible games he could participate in, and he hasn’t been the same explosive player when he did suit up (although he has remained efficient).

Stoudemire signed with the Miami Heat for this season and told the Associated Press he thinks he can bring back some of that vintage form.

“Just four years ago I was an MVP candidate and an All-Star,” Stoudemire said. “I feel like I can still get back to that All-Star level of play. If I can achieve that, then that’s going to help the team in its entirety. … I will accept whatever the role is.”

Whatever that role is, he’s trying to be realistic about what might happen. In case he needed to be humbled, fans are still confusing him with Chris Bosh.

“Stay tuned,” Stoudemire said. “At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to bring. My goal is to become a better player than I was last year, expand on what I did last year. I have a lot of skill set left in this body and I want to show that.”

Miami has a ton of potential up front — if everyone can stay healthy. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside will start. Behind them is Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen, Stoudemire and Udonis Haslem — all veterans who know how to play the game. It gives Erik Spoelstra interesting options, but he needs guys who can stay on the court this season.

If they do, and if the rotations come together, this could be the second best team in the East during the regular season.

 

Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk doing well, will play for Canada in FIBA Americas

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
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There are high hopes for the Canadian national team at FIBA Americas, which is a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Canada has qualified for just one of the last six Olympics (they finished seventh in 2000), but with an improved roster that includes Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, and six other NBA players, they are a team on the rise. And hope north of the border is rising with them.

One of those NBA guys is the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, but he tweaked his knee against Argentina. Olynyk sat out the next game, but the coach said not to worry.

Jay Triano said that again on Wednesday, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

FIBA Americas starts Aug. 31; Canada opens the next day against Argentina (which is without Manu Ginobili).

This is good news for the Celtics and Olynyk as well.

Boston is loaded at the four — Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder — all can get some run at that slot. Any setback for Olynyk is not good, but this seems to be a minor one.

Based God Curse this: Lil B accepts invitation to try out for Sixers D-League team

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I think I know how James Harden and Kevin Durant are hoping this turns out…

Lil B says James Harden stole his “cooking dance” and threw the Based God Curse on him (although he since has said he lifted the curse on the beard), now the rapper gets to show off his game and if he’s good enough to do that dance in game. Because we know Harden backs it up.

Lil B has accepted an invitation to try out for the Delaware 87ers, the D-League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers (hat tip The Fader).

People are already hyping Lil B.

You know if it turns out Lil B can ball and makes the team, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie will sign him and trade him for two future second rounders.

I wouldn’t count on the rapper suiting up for the 87ers this season — the most a full-time D-League player makes is $25,000, which would be a pretty steep pay cut I would guess.

But the tryouts just got a lot more entertaining — especially if the Based God Curse hits the 87ers opponents.

Dirk Nowitzki finding early groove playing for Germany

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Much to the delight of Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki has taken some summers off from the German national team recently. But not this summer, the EuroBasket championships for that continent — and 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament — starts Sept. 5, and Nowitzki is trying to get his nation to the big Carnival in Brazil.

There could be an advantage with that — he may begin the NBA season in a groove. He looked good for Germany against Poland recently — 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds, all in 23 minutes. It’s common for players to come out of these tournaments and roll into the season sharper than if they had just been working out at a gym.

Why did Nowitzki decide to suit up? The late start and that some of the games were in Germany, he told Mavs.com.

“You know, if it had been in July or early August, then I think there would have been no chance,” Nowitzki explained after making the decision to return to international play in June. “That would have meant that I would have had to practice right through and not even take some time off. But this way it’s, like I said, in September. I’m usually here (in Dallas), playing with the guys anyways in five-on-five, so that really was the big key for me. That way, all month of May, I was traveling some, and June was off. I got some family time in…

“You know, to me, it was the big deal that the tournament, or at least the first round, is in Germany,” Nowitzki confessed. “I think I’ve never had a home European championship or world championship at home. This means a lot to our country and to the basketball world in our country. Berlin is an amazing basketball city already over the last 10, 15 or 20 years, so this should be fun. We have a murderous group with a lot of great countries, but we’re going to give it our best and see what happens. But at 37, obviously, that’s not easy. I think in the first round we’ve got like five games in six days.”

Germany is in the group of death — Spain, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, and Iceland. Only the top four from that group advance to the knockout stage. We can safely say that Iceland is hosed here. Germany is a good team — Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder is on it — but they are likely fifth best in a group, so they will need an upset of Turkey or Italy (Spain and Serbia likely advance).

Nowitzki is capable of delivering that.

But you know Cuban hates to see the extra miles on his star’s legs before the season even starts.