Author: Kurt Helin

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers

Portland’s Chris Kaman shoves Chris Paul to ground, starts altercation (VIDEO)

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This all happened just as the Clippers were starting their comeback that would eventually turn into a high scoring win for Los Angeles, 126-122, behind 41 points from Chris Paul. In fact, this helped fuel that comeback.

Just as the third quarter was winding down, Portland’s Chris Kaman pulled down an offensive rebound only to have Chris Paul take it away from him, and in the process Kaman got an inadvertent shot to the family jewels.

In frustration, Kaman shoved Paul out of bounds. That earned Kaman a flagrant one foul and also will earn him a healthy fine (maybe a suspension, although not likely, it’s just hard to predict the league’s justice system). The regular foul and flagrant turned this into a four-point swing for the Clippers.

The other part of this that the referees looked at was LaMarcus Aldridge knocking “Big Baby” Glen Davis down, but this was a good no call by the refs. Davis started to go after Kaman after the shove; Aldridge was trying to step in between and keep him away, Davis was a little off balance and went down pretty easily. This wasn’t a shove or an escalation.

In the end, the Clippers will take the win because it improves their chances of having home-court advantage in the first round.

For fun, listen to the difference in how this was called by the two announcing teams. Above is the Clipper call, here is the Trail Blazers’ call.

Report: Murray State guard Cameron Payne could enter draft

Cameron Payne
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When Cameron Payne came out of high school in Memphis he had options, he led a well-respected AAU team, and in the end he chose a well respected mid-major program at Murray State.

Now after a couple years there, the point guard who led the Racers to being a bubble team to make the tournament this year is thinking of entering the NBA draft. That’s what Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports wrote about recently.

Murray State sophomore guard Cameron Payne is leaning toward entering the 2015 NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Although Payne has yet to formalize his decision, indications are strong that he’s played his final game in college, sources said. Payne, 20, and his family are hosting presentations from several major NBA agents in their hometown of Memphis, Tenn., this week, sources said.

Payne is considered a bubble first/second round pick if he comes out. If it’s about the NBA he needs to think about this — second round picks do not have guarateed contracts. He could be cut during or before training camp. However, if he’s comfortable with time in the D-League or overseas then this may be the right call.

Here is what Rob Dauster of our sisters site CollegeBasketballTalk said about Payne as a prospect:

“At 6-2, Payne doesn’t have great size for the one. He’ll need to add some strength as well, and those expecting a freak athlete the likes of Damian Lillard or Russell Westbrook will be disappointed. But Payne has an elite feel for the game. He knows how to use change of pace to get into the lane, and he can find open teammates when he draws help. He’s got three point range and he’s gotten better at finishing in the lane with floaters and short jumpers, but he doesn’t have the vertical explosiveness to finish at the rim. He might be able to work his way into the back end of the first round, but likely projects as a backup point guard at the next level.”

Heat’s Shabazz Napier out for season after sports hernia surgery

Sacramento Kings v Miami Heat
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Shabazz Napier’s up-and-down rookie season has come to an end.

The rookie point guard who appeared in 51 games, but had seen few minutes as of late, is out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia, the team announced Wednesday.

Napier, the Heat’s first round pick last draft, averaged 5.1 points, 2.5 assists, 2.2 rebounds a game this season. He was given a larger role backing up Goran Dragic after the trade deadline, but quickly fell out of favor and had appeared once in the Heat’s last dozen games (he battled what was termed a hip injury in that time as well).

Napier was the Heat’s first round pick — remember he is the guy LeBron James said he wanted. So they got him. And LeBron left anyway.

Injuries have decimated the Heat this season. Their max contract player Chris Bosh is out for the season. Thier biggest free agent acquisition Josh McRoberts is out for the season. And now their first-round draft pick.

Miami is battling to hold on to one of the final two playoff slots in the East, it is the current seven seed but is just one game up on the nine seed. The loss of Napier will not impact that push much at all. However, down the line he could develop into a point guard that would fit in a quality rotation.

Report: Kings to sign Sim Bhullar to 10-day contract, would be first Indian descent in NBA

2015 NBA D-Leage Showcase
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We need to start here: Sim Bhullar is a massive human being.

Even among the other guys who won the genetic lottery to be in the NBA the 7’5”, 360-pound center stands out as huge. He would be in the huddles for the Sacramento Kings’ Summer League team and just be head and shoulders above everyone.

Now it appears he’s going to be head and shoulders above everyone in the NBA — and make history as the first player of Indian descent in the league, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Bhullar has spent the entire season with the Reno Bighorns, Sacramento’s affiliate in the NBA Development League, after going to training camp with the Kings.

Conditioning has been a question mark in terms of Bhullar establishing a legitimate NBA future. But he has a major supporter in Kings owner Vivek Ranadive — one of India’s most celebrated businessmen — and Bhullar has shed more than 30 pounds over the course of his rookie campaign after weighing in at more than 400 pounds during summer league play with Sacramento last July.

This is a big step for history — the first player whose family is from one of the world’s most populous nations. It’s a good thing to add diversity to the mix. Bhullar was raised in Toronto by Indian parents, then played his college ball at New Mexico. He was undrafted and signed by the Kings.

This order almost certainly came from Ranadive, because the Bhullar I saw at Summer League needed a lot of work to be NBA ready. He was a project.

While conditioning was certainly an issue, so were fundamentals — his footwork, his touch, his sense of the game, his defense all needed a lot of work. Maybe a season in the D-League moved him along that road but I’m not sure he could be ready yet for the speed and athleticism of the NBA game yet. That said, he has averaged 10.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.9 blocks a game for Reno this season.

The bottom line is this, the owner wants it, so we’re going to get see just how ready he is for the NBA.

Stephen Curry clear betting favorite to win MVP

Stephen Curry
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Go ahead and make your case for James Harden, it’s a good one. Russell Westbrook admits he wants to win the MVP this year and has played well enough the last couple months to be in consideration. If your criteria is the best player, it’s still LeBron James. Chris Paul has some staunch backers.

Oddsmakers care about none of it — they care about who is likely to win and who the bettors are putting their money on.

They have Stephen Curry far ahead as the MVP favorite. Here are the latest odds courtesy online gaming site Bovada:

Stephen Curry 1/4
James Harden 3/1
Russell Westbrook 5/1
LeBron James 25/1

It seems trendy to pick against Curry, dismissing the “best player on the best team” argument out of hand. But Curry is averaging 23.7 points a game shooting 43.4 percent from three, he’s dishing out 7.8 assists a game, plus he is the focal point of one of the NBA’s top two offenses. He has a PER of 28 (third in the league), and he’s second in win shares. If you want value to his team, the Warriors are 16.9 points worse per 100 possessions when he is off the court.

Curry is going to win this award. More than that, he’s earned it.