Author: Kurt Helin


Pau Gasol goes on Sesame Street to explain coaching (VIDEO)


That video would be a lot funnier if Latrell Sprewell did it.

Or if Pau Gasol had to explain some of the language Tom Thibodeau uses if film sessions to describe the Bulls’ defense this season.

Still, there is something charming about the elder Gasol and Abby Cadabby talking about playing basketball. It all sounds so simple and pure at that level. It works for Gasol, arguably the nicest guy in the league.

After the taping, apparently the cast went out dancing.

Dwight Howard to return, but James Harden to remain the same attacking player

Houston Rockets Media Day

James Harden’s MVP candidacy is not so much about 27.2 points and seven assists a game as much as this: His aggressive play and high-scoring games have kept the Rockets at the three seed in the West and winning two-thirds of their games despite Dwight Howard being on the sidelines. Injuries have unsettled the Rockets all season, but Harden has been the rock keeping them an elite team.

Now Howard is about to return.

What does that mean for Harden’s style of play, where he dominates the ball and plays off the pick-and-roll. Does he need to give up touches now to keep Howard happy in the post?

Howard told Harden not to change, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“He said, ‘I’ll be returning soon, but I don’t want you to change your game,” Harden told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “He said, ‘I don’t want you to do anything different. Just go out there and do what you do, and do it at a high level every single night.’ He said, ‘I’ll adjust to you,’ and that right there gave me confidence to just play, and play my game and not worry about anything else. Once you hear that from your other leader, then you know you can just go out there and play the way that I’ve been playing.

“I definitely needed to hear that, and he told it to me. So right there that gave me all the confidence in the world, not to try to force it to get him into a rhythm or try to do anything forceful. I can just play my game. Him telling me that just gave me the green light to just go out there and just be the James Harden that I’ve been being all season.”

Harden and Howard talked at a meeting with veteran guard Jason Terry in attendance about a month ago in Denver, according to the report.

Howard may return Wednesday night against the Pelicans. The Rockets need some help up front; Terrence Jones had been playing well but is out with partially collapsed lung. Howard should improve the Rockets’ defense, giving them more rim protection inside.

Harden is going to have to get Howard some touches, but if Howard is true to his work and does try to play off Harden the Rockets will be better for it. I may need to see that to believe it. And Harden admits in the piece it will take a little time for them to find a real comfort level.

However, Harden feels he has the green light, that’s good for the Rockets and dangerous for the rest of the league — when those two have been on the court together this season the Rockets are +9.8 per 48 minutes.

Maybe the Rockets will hit their stride at the right time.

Battery charge against Blake Griffin in Vegas nightclub incident dropped

Blake Griffin

Back in October the Clippers were in Las Vegas preseason game and some players went out to the popular TAO nightclub afterward. There Daniel Schuman claimed that  Griffin squeezed his hand and shoulder then slapping him related to Schuman taking photos of Griffin with his phone. The Las Vegas Police investigated, and the Clark County D.A. charged Griffin with misdemeanor battery.

However, on Tuesday those charges were dropped. From the Associated Press:

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Tuesday that new information obtained since a battery charge was filed in November made it clear that the allegations couldn’t be proved.

At the time, Griffin apologized to his teammates for the distraction but would not comment to the media other than to say he was confident he would be cleared. He has been proven right.

Now we can go back to what happened in Vegas staying there.




Metta World Peace signs to play in Italy

3rd Annual Bikini Ball

When last we saw Metta World Peace he had changed his name to The Panda Friend and was headed to play in China. He played in 15 games for the Sichuan Blue Whales, averaging 19 points and six boards, which was enough to get him a CBA All-Star Game invite.

But now he is off to Italy.

The Chinese season ends early (some guys may try to sign in the NBA) but with no such offers World Peace is taking is talents to Italy. Cantu, to be specific.

That team has a former couple NBA guys, Darius Johnson-Odom and DeQuan Jones. But that’s not what World Peace was talking about on twitter, he was having fun with the name.

Those puns are never going to get old.

No word on if another name change is in the works.

Despite what Larry Bird says, coach Frank Vogel says Paul George “not ready” to play

Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers

“I think he has to go through a series of tests this week, just like we’ve always been doing to see where he’s at. I think he’s cleared by the doctors to play, but obviously he’s not in shape. Just because he’s cleared to play, doesn’t mean he’s in shape to play. And I don’t want Paul to go out there until he feels comfortable with his conditioning and the way he’s practicing.”

That was Pacers’ president Larry Bird speaking Monday about the potential return of Paul George to the Pacers’ rotation. Bird said he expects George to play this season.

Before the Pacers’ latest loss that night, coach Frank Vogel was not nearly as optimistic about a return, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

Later, Vogel offered the opposite: “There’s a lot of layers to that, so he hasn’t been cleared to play for us.”

Vogel, who has had to face daily questions about a possible return more than the player and the president, repeated that George was cleared to practice. When told that Bird mentioned the clearance was to play, which would be a dramatic difference, Vogel replied: “Well, that’s what Larry said.”

“Like I said,” Vogel continued, “there’s a lot of layers to it. He’s not ready. He hasn’t reached our level of what we feel he’s ready to play.”

The discrepancy may just be a matter of semantics between Bird and Vogel. George has been cleared to practice, but that is different than having gone through contact practices pain-free and being in shape to return. George is somewhere on that spectrum.

But the Pacers look like a team in need of a savior. Or at least a jolt.

Monday night the Pacers fell to the Rockets when they were unable to contain James Harden, Indy’s sixth loss in a row. While a lot of teams struggle with the aggressive nature of Harden’s game, Indiana’s defense has been a mess of late, allowing 111.6 points per 100 possessions in those six losses (which is the worst in the NBA in that stretch and worse than any NBA team’s season numbers). Roy Hibbert says the Pacers are taking the easy way out on defense, but whatever is going on it’s not been pretty.

Indiana has fallen from a team that looked like a playoff lock to one a game back of eight-seed Boston with some work to do. George — at least a healthy George — would be a big help with that. That said, the Pacers invested a lot of money in George’s new contract, and they need to take the big-picture view here — a grand push for the eight seed is not as important as being whole in future years.

The reality? The return is up to George and when he’s physically and mentally ready. No matter what Vogel or Bird or anyone else says.