Author: Kurt Helin

Celebrities Attend New York Knicks Vs. Toronto Raptors

Phil Jackson promises Knicks fans better 2015 than 2014. Let’s hope so.


Well, it’s a pretty easy goal to reach.

Phil Jackson took to twitter before the Knicks went on national television on Christmas — the unofficial second opening day of the NBA — to be exposed as just how far away from the top teams in the East they really are.

Phil Jackson represents hope for the Knicks organization and that is what he was selling on twitter Christmas morning.

The Knicks should be better as they get players who better fit the style of play. Right now not only are the Knicks filled with players not known for ball movement and moving off the ball — and that starts with their star Carmelo Anthony, who they just spent $124 million to re-sign last summer — and players who know they are gone from the organization next year, so they are trying to pad their stats for their resume to other teams. Derek Fisher can’t seem to get them inline and the results are the Knicks have lost 15 of 16 heading into Christmas.

The bottom line is the Knicks need more talent. Guys who can defend on the perimeter, someone who can protect the rim, shooters, big men who can pass the ball, and… well, let’s just say Phil has a long list for Santa. It may require an extra sleigh.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry leading in early All-Star voting returns

2014 Sears Shooting Stars Competition

You really like LeBron James. But we knew that.

You really like Stephen Curry. But we knew that as well.

What is interesting is you have now fallen for Anthony Davis, John Wall and even Pau Gasol in Chicago. And Kevin Durant has some catching up to do.

That’s what we can take away from the first — and somewhat early — returns from the fan voting for the All-Star Game on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The NBA released the early returns on Christmas Day. Remember that fans get to vote on the starters — two guards and three front court players — for each conference, then the coaches vote for the bench players that round out the rosters.

Here would be the starters if the voting holds:

Eastern Conference: John Wall, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol
Western Conference: Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol

Here’s the secret about the early voting: There are usually not many changes between this and the starting five in the All-Star Game. Last season saw more than normal, and I think we’ll see a couple this year (hello Kevin Durant) but this is usually a pretty stable indicator.

Some quick thoughts on these returns (you can see more detailed voting return numbers below):

• Being injured left Kevin Durant in an “out of sight, out of mind” state but I expect he will climb the ladder and make it into the starting lineup if he gets healthy.

• Wow, that’s both Gasol brothers starting.

• Not surprisingly LeBron James leads all vote getters early on, however his is less than 30,000 over Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Curry even leads Kobe Bryant. Nobody used to lead Kobe.

• While Chris Paul and James Harden are normally locks, they are well back of Curry and Kobe. Not likely the West starting backcourt changes.

• Raptors fans are getting out and voting this year. Kyle Lowry deserves the support, but you can tell they are voting in numbers when Louis Williams makes the top 10 of guards.

• Will Pau Gasol really be able to hold off Kevin Love for a starting spot out East?

• Voting remains open through Jan. 19. The voting is now all digital — fans can vote on; through social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblog; via SMS text, and the NBA Game Time and using the NBA Game Time from Sprint applications.

Here is the top 10 vote getters so far.

Eastern Conference


1. LeBron James (Cle) 552,967
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 265,170
3. Pau Gasol (Chi) 247,953
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 208,549
5. Kevin Love (Cle) 169,818
6. Joakim Noah (Chi) 69,994
7. Marcin Gortat (Was) 57,715
8. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 52,318
9. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 46,494
10. Al Jefferson (Cha) 43,230


1. John Wall (Was) 299,209
2. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 265,917
3. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 237,356
4. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 182,896
5. Derrick Rose (Chi) 105,465
6. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 99,984
7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 51,946
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 17,512
9. Louis Williams (Tor) 15,329
10. Bradley Beal (Was) 13,911

Western Conference


1. Anthony Davis (NO) 524,623
2. Blake Griffin (LAC) 307,908
3. Marc Gasol (Mem) 227,554
4. Tim Duncan (SA) 198,649
5. Kevin Durant (OKC) 191,881
6. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 152,253
7. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 117,003
8. Dwight Howard (Hou) 104,699
9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 100,015
10. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 74,501


1. Stephen Curry (GS) 549,095
2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 521,542
3. James Harden (Hou) 336,998
4. Chris Paul (LAC) 257,528
5. Rajon Rondo (Dal) 107,366
6. Klay Thompson (GS) 90,957
7. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 84,686
8. Damian Lillard (Por) 82,884
9. Jeremy Lin (LAL) 77,276
10. Tony Parker (SA) 50,287

Josh Smith says he’s “excited” to be reunited with Dwight Howard

Josh Smith

Dwight Howard and Josh Smith played on the same AAU team out of Atlanta back in the day — yes, that was a pretty wicked team — and have remained friends ever since.

That was one of the draws for Smith to sign with the Houston Rockets, something he has told the teams pursuing him will happen, according to multiple reports. It may take a couple of days until ink hits paper, but it’s happening.

Smith wanted minutes as a starter and he wanted to contend for a ring and that, along with Howard, made Houston the logical landing spot. Smith told Fox 26 news in Houston he is looking forward to a fresh start.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” Smith said in an interview with FOX26 Sports. “Being able to be reunited with a good friend and one of the best teammates I ever played with, I think we can definitely do something special.

“Playing beside the best two-guard in the game right now in James Harden, what more can you ask for.”

“I think I can add to their toughness,” Smith said. “I think I can add to their versatility at the four position, being able to pass the basketball and score the ball down low. Just add another basketball IQ, which will help when we make it to the postseason.”

Smith should add depth for the Rockets, something they need with starting power forward Terrence Jones still out with a nerve issue in his leg. Smith can help their defense and rebounding as well.

This is a low-risk move by the Rockets, who picked Smith up for just the bi-annual exception of $2 million a year. If it turns out Smith’s decline the past couple years — specifically his struggles to score around the rim — was not largely due to the dysfunction of that roster the Rockets still will have Jones and Donatas Motiejunas at the four and can just bury Smith on the bench. He doesn’t cost much. This would still be the Harden and Howard show either way, it’s just a matter of what is around them being title worthy.

PBT Extra: Top 5 NBA stories of 2014

LeBron James
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It’s that time of year, when we look back on the year that was in the NBA and remember all that happened.

And a lot happened. More than I could get to in just a top five (for example, leaving the start of the Adam Silver era off the list was painful) but these are my top five NBA stories of 2014. Some of them will leave a mark on the NBA for years to come.

Kevin Durant out for Christmas Day game vs. Spurs

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings

Kevin Durant’s ankle, which he rolled against Golden State one week ago, is still not good enough for him to get on the court and go.

Durant is listed as out for the Thunder against the San Antonio Spurs on Christmas Day, the team announced.

This will be Durant’s fourth missed game with a sprained ankle, the Thunder have gone 1-2 without him in this stretch. They are 6-14 without him all this season, although Russell Westbrook missed a number of those games as well.

A lot more pressure will fall to Westbrook to carry the Thunder offense against the fifth defense in the NBA this season. The Spurs will be without Kawhi Leonard in this rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. It’s just with the injuries a little luster