Kurt Helin

Ricky Rubio knocks down game-winning three to beat Thunder (VIDEO)

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At the end of games (or any possession), there are shots you want to take away and shots you can live with as a defender. Andrew Wiggins driving to the basket, that you want to take away. Ricky Rubio with a jumper? If that beats you, then you tip your cap.

I guess Oklahoma City should just tip their cap.

Just after a Steven Adams putback that tied the game (I’m not getting into that goaltending call and review), the Timberwolves had one last chance to win a tie game on the road. Wiggins came off a Karl-Anthony Towns screen and drove into a wall of defenders in the paint, got in the air, and threw it back to Rubio at the three-point line. For the season, Rubio is 26.2 percent shooting from that area of the arc, basically just one in four falls.

This was the one. Timberwolves get the win.

It felt like the Thunder were looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown with the Spurs, but you can’t take nights off in the NBA.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shoots down expansion idea. Again.

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: NBA commissioner Adam Silver looks on during the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. 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 Elsa/Getty Images)
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Like all the cool kids — well, all the cool kids in 2001, today it’s completely overblown — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is in Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest, or  SXSW.

And one of the many division of the event now is SXSW Sports, where Silver was a keynote speaker. While there he got asked by a Seattle fan about the possibility of expansion, about the only way that city will get a team in the short-term with new arenas coming in Sacramento and Milwaukee.

Silver shot it down in no uncertain terms, saying it isn’t good for the current owners (who would need to approve expansion). From Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com.

“We are 30 partners right now. Thirty teams. Each of those teams own 1/30th of all the global opportunities of the NBA. So the issue becomes, if you expand, do you want to sell one of those interests off to a new group of partners? One reason to do it of course, is that if it’s additive. And no doubt, Seattle is a great market. At the moment, like for me as successful as the league is right now, we (are) not in the position, putting even aside profitability, where all 30 teams are must-see experiences. That’s not a secret….

“There are so many great players in the league,” Silver said. “And that’s one of the issues with expansion. Even putting aside the financial notion of selling equity and whether if it’s additive to the league as a whole to add more teams, the question becomes is it dilutive in terms of talent. And that’s something that I’m focused on as well.”

The bottom line is this: owners currently all get 1/30th of the slice of the financial pie from television, global markets, and the rest of the income beyond ticket sales. They don’t want to make that 1/31st. Mark Cuban has said this before, the short-term bump from expansion fees is not worth the long-term hit from giving up part of that income.

What’s more, this would let 15 more players into the NBA. You can make an argument that the next 15 are no better than the last 15 currently on NBA rosters, but does the league need to put more of those guys who are bouncing between the D-League and the NBA into the league? Does that improve the product?

Silver said eventually the NBA will consider expansion again, it’s the way of any business. But it’s not happening anytime soon.

Sorry Seattle.

Sixers’ Robert Covington taken off court on stretcher after kick to face

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This was scary.

In a tangle of bodies during a defensive play, the Sixers’ Jerami Grant went to the ground and in doing so inadvertently kicked Robert Covington in the face. Covington stayed down on the ground for a while, doctors immobilized his neck, and eventually he was taken off the court on a stretcher.

Covington did raise his arm up and point to the sky in a sign to the fans.

Grant did not return to the game due to a possible concussion, the team announced.

We hope both men are not seriously injured.

Thunder assistant Monty Williams to miss remainder of season

Monty Williams, Kevin Durant
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams will not return to the team this season as he continues to help his family heal following the death of his wife, Ingrid.

The Thunder made the announcement Friday.

On Feb. 9, an oncoming car crossed the center line and hit Ingrid Williams’ SUV near downtown Oklahoma City. Ingrid Williams died the next day, and Monty Williams has not coached since. Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement that the most important things are for Williams to be with his family and for the Thunder to support him.

Williams is in his first season as an assistant for Billy Donovan. He was head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans last season, when he led the franchise to the playoffs.

Williams is also an assistant coach with USA Basketball, which has said he can take all the time he needs in deciding if he wants to join the team for the Rio Olympics.

(NBC’s Kurt Helin added to this story.)

Phil Jackson says he, Carmelo Anthony talked, ‘Melo still cornerstone of Knicks

New York Knicks President Phil Jackson takes questions from reporters, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 at the team's practice facility in Elmsford, N.Y. Jackson earlier fired Knicks coach Derek Fisher, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Associate head coach Kurt Rambis was promoted to interim head coach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Associated Press
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For a team that has fast faded from the playoff picture in recent months, the Knicks are still making headlines. Because of Kristaps Porzingis. Because they fired Derek Fisher and brought Kurt Rambis is as an interim, and Phil Jackson wanted his friend to succeed. Because Kevin Durant is looking elsewhere.

There are three looming questions with the Knicks heading into this summer:

Who is the next head coach?

Is Phil Jackson wed to the triangle? (This will impact free agency and ties into the question above.)

Is Carmelo Anthony part of the Knicks future?

Jackson spoke with the media Friday in Los Angeles and, at least, discussed the last of those questions. From Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal,

Up to this point, Anthony has not been willing to waive his no-trade clause, and he has said he wants to be active in recruiting free agents to the Knicks this summer (although his reported targets may not be the best options). I believe he wants to help bring respectability and eventually a contender to NYC.

But this summer his 15 percent trade kicker becomes valuable (it couldn’t go above the max salary before, but this summer’s salary cap spike means the max goes up and the kicker is in play). He agrees to leave, he gets more money. He’s only going to go to a contender, and likely in a major market (he and his wife like NYC), but the money, at least, opens a discussion that wasn’t going anywhere before.

Jackson also discussed other issues around the Knicks.