Kurt Helin

Steve Kerr

Report: Steve Kerr could be out opening night, “a little while” longer

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Next Tuesday night, Oct. 27, when the Golden State Warriors raise a banner, get their rings, and begin defense of their NBA title, coach Steve Kerr may well be watching from the comfort of his own home.

The Warriors’ coach has been taking time off to recover from multiple back surgeries this summer, and while he has been around the team more of late it looks like he could miss the start of the season at least, according to a report at ESPN by Marc Stein and Ethan Sherwood Strauss.

‎”He still doesn’t know,” Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said after practice Monday in San Diego. “He’s not going to force a return. There’s no timetable still. He’s been around more lately, which is great. As long as it’s not affecting his recovery, I think it’s healthy for the guys to see him.

“Steve’s brilliant at giving quick, clean messages to the players when they need it. He’s been able to do that the last couple days. He just told me I’m doing a great job, just keep doing what you’re doing; the guys are going to take care of some stuff you’re probably stressing about; we have really good players and so we’ll be fine.”

Although the Warriors have repeatedly stressed that no one can forecast how long it will take Kerr to recover, one source close to the situation conceded over the weekend that the team is bracing for the possibility that the coach will be unavailable “for a little while.”

With the entire core of the championship team back running the same system, the Warriors should be just fine “for a little while” without Kerr. What matters is having him on the bench — and in the practices — later in the season to make sure the Warriors don’t slip on building good habits and the other things they need to do to repeat as champs.

In the interim, Walton gets the chance to show he should have a shot in the big chair somewhere with a mini-audition.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Pistons’ Stanley Johnson for ROY?

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I’m higher on the Pistons than a lot of other pundits — I think they are a playoff team in the East this season — and it shows in this latest PBT Extra.

The bold prediction from the twitterverse is that Stanley Johnson wins Rookie of the Year. I’m not sure he’ll get the touches to beat out Emmanuel Mudiay or Jahlil Okafor for the award, but he is my favorite dark horse candidate. Johnson looked great at Summer League and in the preseason, and while both of those are very different things than an NBA game that matters it’s a good ray of hope.

Knicks’ owner Dolan on Isiah Thomas: “I’ve always understood him”

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I don’t know about you, but if a “friend” of mine cost me $11.6 million dollars because he sexually harassed another one of my employees, that would pretty much end the friendship.

Not so with James Dolan and Isiah Thomas — as we covered earlier today, Dolan doesn’t believe it.

Dolan believes his friend Thomas. Despite everything. The story of their continuing friendship is at the heart of a segment on HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” scheduled to air Tuesday night. In it Dolan makes some eyebrow-raising statements.

• “I think I’ve always understood him.”

• Dolan says he  has “a tremendous amount of respect” for Thomas’ “skill and his talent.”

“I don’t know if I can explain it other than that there’s something inside of both of us that’s really quite similar: the tenacity, the stubbornness. Isiah’s a guy who doesn’t believe in his limitations, and I’m a guy who doesn’t believe in his limitations.”

• About those sexual harassment charges, a jury may have believed them but Dolan said he thinks Anucha Browne Sanders made up “a bunch” of the allegations against Thomas back in 2007. “I think a bunch of it she did, yes.”

• Did Thomas understand how many fans were very upset when he  — a man a jury found to have committed harassment — was put him in charge of the New York Liberty WNBA team? “We totally understood that, got it, accepted it. And not only accepted it, but respected their thoughts, their feelings around this issue.”

Under Thomas, the Liberty were the top seed in the East and made it to the conference finals before losing. But winning is not the point, it’s the optics. And how it brings Thomas and his voice back into Madison Square Garden, just down the hall from Dolan.

Set your DVRs for HBO on Tuesday night. Watch Dolan, then remember the real reason Phil Jackson is paid $12 million a year is to keep that owner at arm’s length from any actual basketball decisions.

 

51 Questions: Who will win MVP?

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1
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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Who will win MVP?

Last season, before the games that mattered tipped off, it felt like MVP would be a two-man race, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Nobody saw Stephen Curry taking the steps he did, nor James Harden stepping up when every other Rocket went down. It became a two-man race nobody had expected before the season.

Who will step up this year? Or will the favorites rise to the top (which is what we all pick)? This season the MVP race feels far more wide open, the oddsmakers see it that way. So we asked the PBT staff who their predictions for MVP would be, and for once they all agreed.

Kurt Helin — LeBron James

This is a boring pick. It would be far more fun to say Durant will bounce back, or Anthony Davis will make that big a leap, or Curry will repeat — and any of that could happen. This is a fairly open race. But I think LeBron is on a mission and will have his best all-around season, he will be the best player on the best team, average 25-7-7, and pick up his fifth MVP award.

Dan Feldman — LeBron James

The race looks a little more open than recent years, with Anthony Davis ready to rise and Kevin Durant healthy. But it has bothered LeBron to lose this award the last couple years. He’s also readying himself for the regular season. I think he makes it count.

Sean Highkin — LeBron James

There’s no perfect choice going into the year. Kevin Durant will be on a mission after missing most of last season, but foot injuries are tricky and I don’t trust he can stay healthy for a full year. Anthony Davis’ Pelicans might not win enough games, which unfortunately tends to factor into the voting more than it should. The past few years, I’ve loved Blake Griffin as a sleeper pick, but he and Chris Paul will probably split votes out of the Clippers’ roster. This is one of the last years LeBron will be a serious candidate — he’s 31 and will inevitably start to decline physically soon. The Cavs are starting the year without Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, and with Kevin Love limited at the very least. Tristan Thompson‘s contract situation still hasn’t been resolved. So, we’re back to where Cleveland was in the playoffs, with James having to do everything himself. If the Cavs get a high seed with all of these setbacks, it’ll be hard to argue James doesn’t deserve it.

Vintage Kevin Durant drops 23 on Denver (VIDEO)

Kevin Durant
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Kevin Durant looks healthy. That should make 29 NBA teams nervous.

Durant had 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the Thunder’s 111-98 win over the Nuggets. And as you can see from the video above, he was scoring in a variety of ways.

It’s good to have KD back.