Kurt Helin

PBT Extra: Top five NBA moments of 2015

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You know the year of 2015 was a good one in the NBA when you try to put together a Top 5 list of moments and Chris Paul‘s runner to beat the Spurs in Game 7 — or Paul Pierce saying “I called game” — can’t crack the list.

Above I list out my Top 5 NBA moments of 2015. Just as a spoiler, I have the Warriors winning the title at No. 2, you can guess what is No. 1.

I just hope 2016 brings us as many thrills.

Mavs’ Rick Carlisle compares Stephen Curry to Steve Jobs

151213 curry

As I sit here writing out this post on my Macbook, I don’t think I need to describe how Steve Jobs helped shape the world we live in. Even if you’re on a Samsung phone and a Toshiba laptop, Jobs’ vision changed your online experience.

In the world of the NBA, Stephen Curry is reshaping things. The astute Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle drew the comparison to the Apple founder, via Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (hat tip to Hoopshype).

“You’ve just got to try to make it hard on him. But you’re talking a guy that it’s a little bit like what Steve Jobs has done to our every day life. He’s changed the way we live. He and Bill Gates have done that, Steph Curry is changing the way the game will be played in the future.”

And here I thought Mark Jackson said he was bad for the game.

I’ve started comparing Curry to Joe Montana in this sense: Montana was a great quarterback with unique gifts, but he was the perfect QB for Bill Walsh and his offense. He had the perfect players around him to make it all work. The right guy in the right place at the right time. Curry would be fantastic anywhere, but Steve Kerr — not Mark Jackson, Kerr — put him and the other Warriors in the perfect offense to take advantage of those skills.

And that is changing the game. Not every team can mimic what the Warriors are doing with small ball, and not every team should try. But a decade from now every team will use some of the philosophy and sets we’ve seen with the Warriors, and there will be great young players bringing some of what Curry showed them to the table.

Report: Knicks among teams interested in free agent Tony Wroten

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers waived Tony Wroten and made him a free agent so that they could sign Ish Smith (I don’t care if it’s Mike D’Antoni’s idea, it was a good one, he’s an upgrade for them).

Wroten is an athletic player who has worked hard on his game and improved, but remains a guy who struggles to knock down his shot — he is shooting 33.8 percent this season.

That doesn’t mean teams are not interested — including the Knicks. From Ian Begley of ESPN.

The Knicks are among several teams who’ve looked into the possibility of signing free agent guard Tony Wroten, league sources familiar with the team’s thinking say. The Knicks’ level of interest in Wroten, who was released by Philadelphia earlier this month, is unclear at this point. But sources say that the club has expressed interest in obtaining a guard via trade or free-agent signing in recent days. They have also been monitoring D League players as potential additions, sources say.

The Knicks have a roster spot open — just 14 players are under contract, so they don’t need to make a move to bring in Wroten or anyone else.

The Knicks start Jose Calderon at the one and bring promising rookie Jerian Grant off the bench, but they could use more steady play at the one.

We’ll see if Wroten is the guy to do that; they may be better off with someone out of the D-League that could grow with them. But expect someone to snatch up Wroten soon.

Karl-Anthony Towns defends play while holding Andrew Wiggins’ shoe


Karl-Anthony Towns is proving to be a versatile defender. He can protect the rim, show out on pick-and-rolls, and shows a high IQ defensively for a rookie.

And he can defend while holding a shoe.

Not sure how valuable that last skill is, but when Andrew Wiggins stepped out of his shoe during a defensive possession Monday against the Spurs, Towns picked up the shoe and held on to it (rather than toss it out-of-bounds). While carrying the shoe Towns still cut off a Tony Parker drive to the basket, then chased Parker out to the corner so there was no three (Parker passed inside to LaMarcus Aldridge, but he missed the shot).

Towns looked like his leading-candidate-for-Rookie-of-the-Year self on Monday with 10 points and 12 rebounds against San Antonio. Plus he was the best defender holding a shoe in his hands on the court.


Report: Markieff Morris must apologize to team to return to practice

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 11:  Markieff Morris #11 and head coach Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Miami Heat at US Airways Center on February 11, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Heat defeated the Suns 103-97.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Markieff Morris‘ two-game suspension for arguing with coach Jeff Hornacek and throwing a towel at him ended when the final buzzer went off Monday night in the Suns loss to the Cavaliers.

Morris will be at the Suns’ practice Tuesday — but before he can set foot on the court he has to apologize to the team and coaches publicly, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. And some in Morris’ camp are not thrilled about that.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has asked Morris to briefly meet with him, Hornacek and team president Lon Babby prior to Tuesday’s practice, the source said. Morris has been told he will be asked to apologize to his Suns coaches and teammates, make a renewed commitment to the team for games, practices, weight-training sessions and treatment sessions and attend all NBA and Suns community appearances, the source said.

Morris is expected to attend the meeting on Tuesday and do what is needed to return to practice afterward, the source said. Still, some within Morris’ camp are confused by the team’s requests because Morris already apologized to Hornacek and his teammates on Twitter and sent a separate apologetic text to Hornacek. Morris also has spoken with his teammates regularly during the suspension that cost him $145,455, the source said.

Morris has tweeted out an apology.

That and texts, however, are not the same as a face-to-face apology.

While he has said otherwise, Morris has not seemed engaged this season, still harboring resentment over his brother Marcus Morris being traded away last summer (part of the Suns’ efforts to chase LaMarcus Aldridge). Markieff is averaging 10.7 points a game on 37.9 percent shooting, with a PER of 9.2 — some of the worst numbers of his career. The Suns’ forced apology seems to be an effort to get Morris to acknowledge he is not all in with the team right now and an effort to get him on board.

Morris was seen as a cornerstone part of what the Suns were building, but everything the Suns thought they were doing right has backfired. The Eric Bledsoe/Brandon Knight backcourt has struggled together (and now Bledsoe is out six weeks with a torn meniscus). The big off-season acquisition of Tyson Chandler has been a bust due to injury and age (he’s coming off the bench now and Alex Len starts).

And Morris has been terrible. There has been talk of trading Morris but his stock around the league has fallen so far — both because of his play and concerns about his attitude — that the Suns would have to throw in a sweetener to get him off the roster.

All those front office miscalculations have Jeff Hornacek in trouble as the coach. Welcome to the NBA. Throw in an impatient owner in Robert Sarver and more shakeups seem inevitable.