Kurt Helin

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Utah’s defense means playoffs?

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I’ll admit it, I’m on the Utah Jazz bandwagon, I have them making the playoffs as the eighth seed in the West.

And as I discuss in this latest PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado, that happens because I think the Jazz have a top five defense this season, anchored by Rudy Gobert.

Can Gordon Hayward make the All-Star Game? Maybe, if the Jazz are playing well he could get in on the coach vote, but he’s on the bubble. Gobert could sneak in too if there are injuries to other centers in the West. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Rajon Rondo on relationship with Karl: “It’s not been going too well”

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This was Rajon Rondo back in July, talking about his relationship with Sacramento Kings coach George Karl: “I think it’s a great fit. So far. We haven’t played any games, coach Karl hasn’t kicked me out of any practices yet, so we will see how it goes.”

Well, now they’ve played some games and already in the preseason the headstrong Rondo and his coach are in conflict. In an interview Tuesday with Cowbell Kingdom after the Kings beat the Lakers in an exhibition game in Las Vegas, Rondo said this about his relationship with Karl (you can see the video above):

“It’s not been going too well. We got into a couple arguments the last couple of days. Hopefully, we continue to talk, and it will get better.”

Karl said over the summer he expected some of this, that he knew Rondo was willful and that he would challenge the coaching staff at times. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in limited doses — you can be sure Chris Paul challenges Doc Rivers at points, same with Russell Westbrook and any coach who tries to reign him in.

The question is how it is handled and how the relationship evolves. Rondo challenged Rick Carlisle in Dallas last year and that relationship deteriorated to the point the Mavericks were better with Raymond Felton on the floor, and Rondo wasn’t around for the end of the Mavericks’ playoff series.

Rondo didn’t seem angry in this interview; he appeared to take this in stride as part of the process. The Kings are a combustible mix of players — to use Karl’s words — and that makes this relationship one worth watching.

Complicating matters for the Kings, their other point guard Darren Collison has played well this preseason in Karl’s system. Rondo and Collison are going to split time at the point, but if things continue as they have been the scales (and minutes) could tip toward Collison.

 

Harrison Barnes suffers sprained knee in exhibition loss

DeMar DeRozan, Harrison Barnes
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This is not what a guy still trying to negotiate a contract extension wants to see happen.

Midway through the second quarter of the Warriors preseason, Barnes collided with a Nuggets player and left the floor not to return, reports Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com. The Warriors have officially called it a sprained right knee.

After the game there were not a lot of details, although interim coach Luke Walton called Barnes “day-to-day,” reports Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News.

“We obviously won’t rush him back,” Walton said.

Barnes started 82 games last season for the Warriors and it doesn’t sound like he will be out an extended period of time, although we should get more details on Wednesday.

With Barnes out, Andre Iguodala will slide back into the starting lineup. He’ll be just fine with that.

NBA family reacts to news of Lamar Odom hospitalization

Kobe Bryant And Phil Jackson Address The Media
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I’ll admit my bias up front: Lamar Odom is one of my favorite people I have had the pleasure of speaking with and getting to know while covering the NBA. He is sensitive, funny, genuine, and had gone through so much grief and pain during his life. When the microphones were off and he was just talking, he was engaging.

It’s not just me that feels this way. In the wake of the news of his hospitalization and life-threatening illness, the NBA family has expressed both shock and poured out its heart. Here is a sampling.

Kobe Bryant leaves game with bruised calf; Scott says it’s not serious

Kobe Bryant
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After the last couple seasons — where Kobe Bryant has played 41 games total — any time he suffers an injury, Lakers fans are going to hold their breath.

Like when Kobe left the Lakers’ exhibition game Tuesday night against Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. After a third quarter collision with Rajon Rondo where the Kings’ point guard fell on him, Bryant went to the bench and was rubbing his knee. That was concerning. He then walked back to the locker room under his own power but did not return to the game.

The Lakers later said he suffered a bruised calf. Coach Byron Scott said not to worry, reports Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell.

This is a good news. I’m not sure how Kobe will perform this season, or what he will decide to do when the season is over, but I want him to be able to make that decision from a place of physical health. If he retires, I want him to be able to do it on his own terms, not because his body broke down. I wish for a healthy season for him.

I’d say the Lakers were being cautious with him because it’s preseason, but I expect that will carry over into the games that matter as well.