Kurt Helin

2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade - 2015 Indy 500

Paul George’s goal is to be MVP next season

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Paul George’s career was on a skyrocket trajectory until just about one year ago. It was there, in an exhibition game for Team USA he tried a chase down block, landed at the base of the basket stanchion and his leg snapped in as gruesome an injury as you are ever going to see on a basketball court.

George will be back and fully healthy next season — and he wants to continue that trajectory just where it left off

George is in China selling the Nike brand and meeting with the many Pacers fans in that country — yes, Pacers China is a thing — and he told those fans that his plans for his career arc have not changed due to his injury. They are just delayed (hat tip to the IndyStar).

“After being draft into the NBA, I was playing from the bench and then tried to be a starter, then an All-Star. My goal now is set to be MVP. This year, that hasn’t changed,” George told fans at a Beijing Nike store.

What did you expect him to say? He’s a competitor; he’s not going to say anything less.

For the good of the NBA, I hope George has a bounce-back season. I hope we see a guy that hasn’t lost a step.

But the MVP award traditionally goes to the best player on a 50+ win team that is a contender, and the Pacers are not that. As well as George may play, this team is transitioning from big, lumbering and defensive to smaller and offensive-minded. Monta Ellis and George will be entertaining to watch together, but they are not lifting this team up to the NBA’s elite. Making the playoffs in the East seems a more reasonable goal, and one they may not fulfill.

 

Tony Allen says he wants to play about five more years, all in Memphis

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Two
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Tony Allen is the soul of Memphis’ grit and grind style. He’s one of the game’s best on-ball defenders, and he finds a way to get enough offense to make it work. It’s not always pretty, but it’s effective.

Allen has spent the past five seasons with the Grizzlies — last season he scored 8.6 points a game and improved to a respectable 34.5 percent from three — and he told the Commercial Appeal he wants to finish his career in Tennesee.

“I can’t envision myself no place else,” he said. “I got about five more years.”

Allen is 33 right now, so we’ll see about five years. Allen has two seasons left on his deal at a very reasonable $10.7 million total. He will be a free agent in 2017, and a lot of teams likely will have interest in him — and with the spiked salary cap he could see a raise — but it sounds like Memphis will be able to keep him.

Allen was understandably frustrated with how the Grizzlies’ season ended. They fell to the Warriors in the second round, a series that turned when Golden State switched Andrew Bogut onto the injured Allen defensively (which allowed Bogut to patrol the paint and dare Allen to beat them with his inconsistent jumper).

“When they pulled that strategy, man, I was hurt,” he said. “If they try that s—- again …

“Had I been healthy, and they had somebody (like Bogut) on me, I probably would have showed up in a different way in a game as far as rebounding, steals,” Allen said. “Them putting Bogut on me simply affected our team because of injury.”

He may well get a chance to prove his point. Memphis is going to need a healthy Tony Allen, plus Matt Barnes and the rest of the wings to knock down some outside shots, but they will be in the mix in a once again very crowded Western Conference.

Charles Barkley: “LeBron should call it Trainwreck 2, because the finals was Trainwreck 1.

2015 March Madness Music Festival - Day 3
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Charles Barkley is being Charles Barkley.

He’s at the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament in Lake Tahoe, where he is showing off an improved golf swing and speaking to the media. That included an interview on CSNBayArea.com, the home of the Golden State Warriors. You remember them, the jump shooting team that won the NBA championship last season.

CSNBayArea’s Jim Kozimor asked Barkley why he hates the Warriors. Barkley gave the Warriors just a little credit but mostly said the Cavaliers were too banged up to take advantage — then threw in a great line tied to “Trainwreck,” the new Amy Schumer movie where LeBron has a supporting role.

I still think if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had’ve been healthy, they would have won that series. LeBron flat out ran out of gas. But you put two more All-Stars on that team, the Warriors still might have won but I would have picked the Cavs if everyone was healthy.

LeBron should call it Trainwreck 2, because the finals was Trainwreck 1.

Barkley softened his stance when on in the Bay Area, but in other interviews (he did a series of them) he would not give the Warriors credit for winning with small ball in the interview, even when it made him look bad.

Studies have shown that we as humans do not let go of our beliefs even when we are shown evidence and proof that they are wrong — in fact, we tend to become more entrenched. Barkley believes that you need to play inside out with a more traditional big man to win, which was fairly true when he played. However, the change in defense rules allowing zones changed that — back-to-the-basket big men in the post see earlier and harder doubles under the new rules than was allowed before. You can overload their side of the court and take away a big’s advantage. It’s not that Dwight Howard or DeMarcus Cousins can’t have success, they can, but teams don’t need that guy to win.

But Barkley is going to be Barkley.

Zach LaVine drops 49 at Seattle Pro-Am, including buzzer-beating game winner

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers
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Zach LaVine averaged 22 points in his two games at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, although he continues to show his rough edges including shooting just 32.4 percent to get those buckets.

He went from Vegas to Seattle, where Saturday against pro-am level defense he put on a show in the Seattle Pro-Am.

He scored 49 points on 31 shots, plus hit 8-of-19 from three. He also nailed the game winner above and had this dunk as well. Not a bad day’s work.

Report: Steve Mills, not Phil Jackson, keeping Carmelo Anthony up to date on Knicks’ summer efforts

Steve Mills,Phil Jackson
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Carmelo Anthony agreed to the Knicks’ rebuilding efforts a year ago when he decided to take their massive checks for five years. He’s committed.

Phil Jackson has spent the summer drafting Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant, then signing Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn, and Arron Afflalo. The Knicks will be better next season, maybe they can make the playoffs, and there is some hope building for the future.

But Jackson hasn’t been keeping Carmelo Anthony in the loop on any of that — Jackson said earlier in the week he hasn’t spoken to Anthony at all this summer. Rather GM Steve Mills has that duty, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

According to an NBA source, general manager Steve Mills has been in communication with Anthony across the free-agent process to explain the recent additions.

As president, Jackson delegates a lot, and Mills is in charge of directly speaking with agents and other teams regarding potential trades or free-agent acquisitions. According to the source, Mills also handles reaching out to players on matters such as recent transactions. In fact, Mills has said publicly Anthony spent a lot of time in his office going over “the boards’’ regarding potential free agents they were after.

This is the role Jackson wanted — he didn’t wish to handle the grinding details of dealing with agents phone calls or scouting some prospect in Europe. Jackson wanted to come in as the CEO — and he’s getting ridiculous CEO money — to set a direction and approve potential moves.

And stroking the ego of the team’s star player, that’s someone else’s job, too.

But if the Knicks struggle again this season, the blame for all of that is going straight to the CEO. His first season didn’t go smoothly but rebuilds rarely do. However, a second tough year and New Yorkers — including maybe James Dolan — will show a lot less patience.