Kurt Helin

Report: Knicks to re-sign Cleanthony Early, push him to D-League to start

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Cleanthony Early has struggled his way through 56 games with the Knicks over the past two seasons, shooting just 34.6 percent from the floor, but also showing flashes of potential.

Enough flashes that the Knicks are going to re-sign him — then send him to the D-League to get healthy and develop. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Part of the challenge for Early has just been getting and staying healthy, and that includes right now.

If he can show an improved jump shot, everything else should open up for him. Early is long, athletic, a willing passer (who needs to reduce turnovers), and he has real defensive potential. It feels like there is a rotation NBA player in there, if he can just get it out. The Knicks are giving him another shot.

Damian Lillard on winning a ring: “I’d rather do it with the team I have. I’d rather build it up”

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Damian Lillard said it before: Kevin Durant did what he did this summer choosing to help form a superteam in Golden State, but it was not something he could do. Lillard didn’t mean it as a shot at Durant, although it sort of came off as one.

Lillard went on The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio Thursday and tried to clarify that he was not firing a shot across the bow of KD, but he also didn’t back down from what he said the first time.

What I was saying was about myself, it wasn’t about anybody else. I was saying joining other big time players and joining a team like Golden State is that something I couldn’t see myself doing. We play this game to win and if that’s what somebody is willing to do to win and if that’s what they want to go and do then that’s fine, it’s not against the rules we can’t be mad at anybody for joining whatever team they want to join but what I was saying I’d rather do it with the team I have. I’d rather build it up and to being a championship team.

Little discussed fact: Rome has developed into one of the best interviewers in the business. He turned this into a discussion of Lillard saying what he thinks, not resorting to cliches and bland soundbites.

No I’m going always going to say what I feel and say what I think…. But I think that’s also a problem in sports sometimes when you don’t allow to say what they feel, or when guys tell the truth about what they think about something or what they feel about something it becomes an issue and it’s like he shouldn’t have said this or this guy said that or you kind of force people into wanting to give you a cliché answer or just like a you know what I mean, they don’t give you details because every time they say something it gets twisted and turned into something that it’s not….

Even when I do speak I’m not going to go say nothing crazy about anybody or nothing off the wall, so its I mean whatever.

Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving star in NBA’s new season tip-off ads

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Twelve days and counting.

The NBA season tips off in less than two weeks and the league is promoting it with two new ads focused on the “This is why we play” theme from last year. The one above is Kyrie Irving talking about Cleveland defending its title.

The other below features Russell Westbrook talking about every team starting at 0-0.

51 Questions: What three things can keep Golden State from a title?

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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season. Today:

What three things can keep Golden State from a title?

Here is a question we’ve asked a few times on the PBT Podcast:

Who would you pick to win the NBA title: The Golden State Warriors or the field?

Almost everyone asked pauses — this Warriors lineup with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, plus Andre Iguodala and a solid (if now thinner) bench, has the potential to be an unstoppable force.

But they are no guarantee. What could keep the Warriors from their appointment with destiny? Here are the top three things:

1. Injuries

It feels like a cliche/cop-out answer, but it’s also the truth — if the Warriors are not the team everyone fears by the playoffs, this is the most likely reason. Every NBA team is a key injury away from not being the same. If Durant or Curry went down and were not available for the playoffs, suddenly the Spurs and Clippers would look like a real threat to keep the Warriors from a third straight trip to the NBA Finals. Even injuries to key parts of the bench — Iguodala is at the top of that list because of his key role in the new death star lineup — would make the Warriors far more vulnerable to a team like the Cavaliers (where the margin is already thin). Speaking of them….

2. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs are going to come out of the East and make a third straight trip to the NBA Finals (with that same injury caveat above). They have the best player on the planet, other elite guys in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, a solid and capable bench, and we have seen them do this before. LeBron is not the kind of leader that wins a ring then lets his team coast the next season (there’s a reason he’s been to six straight NBA Finals). If Golden State is healthy they are a matchup challenge for the Cavs, just like they will be for everyone else, but this is the team with the best roster and shot to overcome it.

3) Maybe the Warriors don’t blend like we expect

There was a time like this, just before the season started in the fall of 2012, where the Lakers had added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to an already strong team (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, etc.) and we all anointed them the Western Conference champions. Then they never even make the playoffs. They never came together as expected. Injuries were certainly a big part of that, but chemistry was a real issue. What is Golden State starts slow (a real possibility) and the strain of that leads to cracks they can’t repair? What is Durant can’t handle being in the role of villain all season long? What if egos get in the way of guys who want touches and numbers? All of that could lead to this team not living up to expectations — they are a strong team, but the margin between them and San Antonio or Cleveland is not significant.
None of this is likely, but it is possible.

As great as the Warriors could be, I wouldn’t be afraid to bet the field.

PBT Podcast: Sixers’ coach Brett Brown talks Joel Embiid, building a culture, job security

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Philadelphia’s ownership already was frustrated enough with the pace of its bad-to-get-good rebuild that the plan’s architect, Sam Hinkie, was pushed out the door and the reins of power were handed to the more conventional father/son team of Jerry Colangelo and Bryan Colangelo.

Does that mean coach Brett Brown is next on the chopping block?

Brown doesn’t feel that pressure.

In this podcast, Brown joins Kurt Helin of NBC to talk about taking the team to the Pentagon this week, about trying to build a team culture that can be sustained, how Joel Embiid and Dario Saric fit into that, and how Brown’s job security tie into all of that. It’s a good look into the efforts to turn the Sixers around.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.