Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Report: Sacramento Kings near deal to sign Andrea Bargnani

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Knicks fans are about to freak out at this statement, but it’s true: Andrea Bargnani played okay for them down the stretch last season. By the time he returned to the court from injury last February, the Knicks were out of out of the playoff picture, but he put up 14.8 points per game and shot 36.6 percent from three. He had a PER of 16.6, above the league average. He’s never going to live up to the hype of being drafted No. 1, and he’s not going to help a team out defensively, but if his role is limited and off the bench he could help a team.

The Sacramento Kings need more shooting, and they are about to land him.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.

Bargnani was not worth the $11.5 million the Knicks paid him last season, but if the Kings can get him for the minimum or a couple million, it’s not a bad deal.

Sacramento has guys who are going to get a lot of run that teams are going to dare to shoot the jumper — Rajon Rondo at the point, rookie Willie Cauley Stein — and they needed some guys who can space the floor. This is not a game changer for the Kings, but it wouldn’t be a terrible signing, either.

LeBron on Cavaliers’ off-season: “It’s been good so far, but we have a lot of work to do”

LeBron James
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LeBron James used his free agency to leverage the Cleveland Cavaliers management to improve the team this off-season. Whether he needed to put on that show or not (he didn’t), owner Dan Gilbert is going to break out the checkbook. The Cavaliers will have the highest payroll in the land next season — 0ne that includes a hefty luxury tax bill that will push the Cavs’ up to $200 million or so spent on players.

So what does LeBron think of the efforts to re-sign Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert (and himself), plus get Mo Williams?

It’s a good start, but he wants to see more, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN at an Akron premiere of his movie “Trainwreck.”

“It’s been good so far, but we have a lot of work to do,” said James, who co-stars in the movie, when asked about the Cavs’ offseason. “We still got to re-sign Tristan [Thompson]. Hopefully we can bring back J.R. [Smith] as well and see if there’s some other free agents out there that’d love to come here and play if we’re able to do that.

“We definitely don’t want to come back the same team. We want to come back better. But right now, we’ve been doing so far, so good.”

The Tristan Thompson deal will likely get done. Eventually. There’s a gap between the two sides — Thompson reportedly wants Draymond Green level money (five years, $85 million), while the Cavaliers realize he isn’t worth that much. Thompson and LeBron share an agent, so LeBron can lean on the Cavs to get a deal done, while Thompson has to know there are few teams left with the cap space to make him an offer sheet in the ballpark he wants. The sides will figure it out.

J.R. Smith could be a different story. The Cavaliers have a great trade chip in the expiring $10.5 million contract of Brendan Haywood, and they are shopping it around looking for wing depth. If they find a deal for a player less erratic than Smith, then they may not be as eager to re-sign him. At least at a price that Smith would like.

The biggest advantage the Cavaliers have going into next season is continuity — a second year with the core playing together, a second year working with coach David Blatt. The second half of last season the Cavaliers started to figure it out, they were an offensive juggernaut, and they might have won it all if not for playoff injuries to Love and Kyrie Irving. Next season they will be better just for having had those experiences and time together.

But the roster will be deeper, too. LeBron should be happy.

Dwight Howard put on Predator costume and went to Comic-Con

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Comic con. Love life you only live once.@fandango @movieclips

A photo posted by Dwight Howard (@dwighthoward) on

Somehow, there is nothing surprising in this next sentence:

Dwight Howard put on Predator costume and went to Comic-Con in San Diego.

It’s the off-season, he’s a goofball and he’s out being himself. This is when he should do these kinds of things. But for those of you (Lakers’ fans) who love to smack Howard at every turn, feel free to contrast this with James Harden and Trevor Ariza showing up in Las Vegas to take in a couple Summer League games.

Amazing day at comic con.

A video posted by Dwight Howard (@dwighthoward) on

💪🏾 got this from Thor.

A video posted by Dwight Howard (@dwighthoward) on

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball. If CBS’s Matt Moore had gone to Comic-Con he would have gone as Nightcrawler.)

Report: Minnesota to trade Chase Budinger to Indiana for Damjan Rudez

Chicago Bulls v Minnesota Timberwolves
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Indiana wanted some depth and athleticism in the wing behind likely starters Monta Ellis and Paul George, so they went out and traded for it.

Indiana has acquired Chase Budinger from the Timberwolves in a trade, reports Adrian Wojnaorski of Yahoo Sports.

I like this deal better for the Timberwolves.

You may not recognize the name Damjan Rudez but here’s what you should know: The guy can shoot the rock. He’s a 6’10” Croation who can play the three or stretch four, and shot 40 percent from three as a rookie last year playing 15 minutes a night. While the Timberwolves have depth at the three and four slots — Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng and others — you can never have enough shooting. Rudez is going to get some minutes and hit some buckets.

Budinger can shoot the ball, but he has lost some of his trademark athleticism after years of injuries, which limited him to 67 games last season. He averaged 6.8 points and three rebounds in 19 minutes a night when he did play, plus he shot almost 37 percent from three. That lack of athleticism has hurt Budinger’s defense as well in recent years.

However, near the end of the season (the last couple months) Budinger seemed to have some of his bounce back and with that was a pretty good player. In the final six weeks of the season, he averaged 12.3 points and shot 39 percent from three, playing 29 minutes a night. If that’s the guy the Pacers can get for an entire season this will be a good trade for them.

It’s just, with his injury history, it’s hard to bet on it.

Mark Cuban is not buying DeAndre Jordan’s twitter apology

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three
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In the wake of DeAndre Jordan changing his mind and backing out of what he told the Dallas Mavericks to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers — and doing it in an unprofessional way, not taking calls from or meeting with Mavs owner Mark Cuban — Jordan took to Twitter to apologize.

This did not involve Jordan directly calling and speaking to Cuban (reportedly Jordan’s mother did, however).

Cuban took to the Cyber Dust app (he’s a primary investor and driver of the app, a Snap Chat competitor) to answer DeAndre and posted this, via Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Did Jordan write his own apology? No way to know for sure, but let’s say that it’s very rare for an athlete do to that and not a PR pro working for him.

Previously on Cyber Dust, Cuban explained his side of what happened when he tried to meet with Jordan (hat tip to the Sporting News for transcribing).

“Through all of Monday we were texting back and forth discussing players available, the amount of cap room we had left. Who our staff liked. Who he liked. How excited he was.

“Then on Tuesday the communications basically stopped and we started hearing rumblings from multiple people that something was up.

“So I flew down to Houston and got a room at the galleria, which is just a few minutes from his house I had my driver take me to his house. It’s inside a small gated community but the gate was wide open. So we drove in and I literally walked up to his door.

“There was no one home. So I texted him saying that I was there. I know something is up. Let’s talk. He texted me that he was on a date.

“I told him to have fun. I wasn’t in a rush, that I was happy to come by there and say hi or if he wanted to make the date fun, take them to Dallas for a night out.

“He didn’t respond.

“After about 10 mintues I went back to the hotel. I wasn’t going to sit in front of his house. I didn’t think that was right.

“When I got back to the hotel I texted him that I wasn’t in front of his house. Have fun on his date and we will talk.

“He hit me back immediately saying thanks.

“He knew I was in town. He knew I was close by. I knew something was up. I was getting the same reports everyone else was.

“I also knew his agents were coming to town. It made sense that he would talk to them and worst case, even if he was having second thoughts the agent would be able to give me updates.

“Like any big career move it’s natural to have second thoughts. So while I was concerned, I still wasn’t worried. SO I went to bed.”