Author: Kurt Helin

Utah Jazz v Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City waives Sebastian Telfair


The NBA granted Oklahoma City a hardship exception to add a 16th player to the roster while Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were out. But they are about to be back and that exception is about to expire.

So on Wednesday night the Thunder waived guard Sebastian Telfair, the team announced. This brings the Thunder roster down to 15.

With the guards depleted in OKC Tefair was averaging almost 21 minutes a game for the Thunder and didn’t play poorly, averaging 8.6 points a game (although on 36.4 percent shooting).

That means a few things. First is that they will keep Ish Smith on the roster over Telfair. Once Westbrook returns Smith will be the third point guard and he’s not going to see much court time, but the Thunder like him better in that role than Telfair.

Second, Westbrook and Durant are almost back. That’s something to be thankful for.

LeBron James, Cavaliers have kind of game they need to replicate blowing out Wizards

Dion Waiters, Kevin Seraphin, Rasual Butler

LeBron James was in attack mode from the opening tip — he got to the free throw line eight times in the first quarter on his way to 12 points and 5 assists in the first 12 minutes. He set a tone and the rest of the Cavaliers got in line by playing defense and the Wizards wilted and turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter.

Cleveland went on a 15-2 run and was up 31-18 after one quarter. That was pretty much the ballgame.

The Cavs cruised 113-87 win behind a big game from James — 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. It was one of the best games the Cavaliers have played this season, it got them a little revenge from five days ago by the Wizards. The win also brings the Cavaliers up to .500 at 7-7.

The Wizards were without Nene and they are not the same defensive team without him. And they really could have used him against the Cleveland bigs — Kevin Love dropped 21 points on the game and Anderson Varejao was part of the hot first half for the Cavaliers as he started 5-of-5 from the floor.

If you are a Cavaliers fan here is what you should like best out of this game — they played really good defense.

They held the Cavaliers to 94.9 points per 100 possessions and they got good defensive possessions from Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Dion Waiters. John Wall shredded the Cavs to the tune of 28 points, Irving said he wanted to guard him and in the end Wall had six points on just six shots. Wall can take over a game and the Cavaliers didn’t let him.

If the Cavs can defend like that on a regular basis they will be a lot more, well, like the Cavaliers we expect. This is the kind of the effort they need to replicate.

Adam Silver on if league would do anything about Sixers: “Step in and do what?”


The Philadelphia 76ers are 0-14 with a historically bad offense — potentially the worst in NBA history — and a bottom 10 defense. Some people are already asking if this is the worst team in NBA history and, while it’s early, watching them you have to think it’s possible. You don’t look down their schedule and think “there’s a win.”

It’s not a good look for the league. Even Sixers fans who intellectually understand the naked “being bad to get good talent” system the Sixers are employing are frustrated. The Sixers level of tanking is on its way to being a national story.

So, Commissioner Adam Silver what is the league going to do about it? That’s what Frank Isola, Knicks reporter for the New York Daily News and radio host on Sirius XM’s NBA Radio, asked the Commissioner on Wednesday — would the league step in and do anything about the Sixers?

“Would the league step in and do what?” Silver responded. “I think ultimately management/ownership of teams make decisions on how to structure a roster and to plan for the future and this is a decision they made and they’re going to have to live with it. There’s no magic bullet from the league office.”

He’s right. The die is cast for this season, it’s not like the league can make the Raptors give Philly Kyle Lowry. The owners could have voted this past summer to flatten out the lottery odds and made tanking (and sorry Sixers, it is tanking) a less attractive option. They didn’t. So the Sixers are going to be bad, get their picks and we’ll see around 2018 or so if the strategy worked.

A couple other topics Silver was asked about:

Silver was in Milwaukee Tuesday and when asked about the progress toward a new stadium he said, “They’re on track.” There is going to be opposition to the plan but…

“There are always going to be people who question, and understandably, why taxpayers should be participating in a new arena but as I explained to the community there, the last thing this ownership group is looking for is a handout, this is kind of an ideal public/private partnership that ultimately this community needs a new area that will be the anchor of a larger downtown development.”

Tom Ziller has been writing some interesting stuff about this over at SB Nation: Should the NBA do away with conferences and just invite the 16 best teams to the playoffs? It’s not simple, right now the NBA plays an unbalanced schedule (Western Conference teams play other Western teams more than Eastern teams) but, as always, Silver said he’d be open to discussing it.

“I’m not saying that’s a bad idea. I’m only saying that if we’re going to look at it it is a lot more complicated than just saying, ‘Alright, let’s take the existing schedule, get to the end of the season and seed them one through 16. It is an interesting idea. Incidentally, Frank, as I travel around the league it is an idea that I’ve heard from lots of people which means it is something fans are focused on. And so it is something that our competition committee should take a fresh look at.”

Kyrie Irving wants to take on bigger defensive role, challenge top point guards

John Wall, Kyrie Irving

Just to roll it backwards for you on the Cavaliers: Saturday night Toronto’s Kyle Lowry had 23 points and 8 assists; the night before that John Wall had 28 and 7; a couple of games before that Ty Lawson had 24 and 12. I could go on but you get the picture. Elite point guards are putting up numbers on the Cavs.

Kyrie Irving was not on those guys all that time (he was not on Wall at any point, Joe Harris was), but it’s safe to say he’s been part of the problem, not part of the solution with the Cleveland defense. Flat out the Cavaliers are not a good defensive team (ranked 19th in the league so far), their energy on that end is inconsistent (to put it kindly) and there is no communication going on. This is a team that lacked great individual defenders then compounded the situation with their lack talking and sloppy rotations.

Irving wants to take the lead in fixing that by taking on more defensive responsibilities against top point guards — starting with going against Wall Wednesday night, he told Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

“Based on the lineup, whatever our team needs, if one person gets going whether it be the one or two, I’m going to guard them,” Irving said. “It’s just more or less a personal challenge. It takes a team effort to guard everybody and for me, I’m either on the one or the two. We just have to figure that out….

“I told them that whenever I have a chance to guard the point guards, just leave me on him and we have our two guards guard the twos,” he revealed. “I just have to do the job at stopping the head of the snake.”

Based on history, a lot of top point guards in the league just started drooling.

But good on Irving for trying to step up. You have to like the attitude, we’ll see about the outcome.

Irving is not a good man defender, but the bigger problem is that stopping an elite guard like Wall or Lowry or whomever has to be a team effort — with no hand checking on the perimeter top guards can’t easily be stopped, no matter how quick you are. Kyrie Irving can’t stop Kyrie Irving, just like Wall couldn’t stop Wall. It takes a coordinated team effort.

The Cavs have been nowhere near that this season and the Wizards exposed that badly last meeting. They may again tonight.

PBT Extra: Anthony Davis’s MVP-level play, the Spurs and things to be thankful for

New Orleans Pelicans v Denver Nuggets

It’s that time of year when we should take stock of our lives and the things we have to be thankful for — and as NBA fans this season we have an overflowing cornucopia of fun and exciting things.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss just three of them in this latest edition of PBT Extra. First is getting to watch Anthony Davis blossom into a top three player before our eyes — he has been the NBA’s best player the first month of the season.

Then there are the Spurs — the best power forward ever, a couple other Hall of Famers and they play a beautiful, selfless brand of basketball. We need to enjoy this while we can because it could all end soon.

Finally, Canadian Thanksgiving took place last month but I’m not taking the Raptors off my list. This team is fun to watch, playing great on both ends of the ball and the Bulls and Cavaliers both have a lot of work to do to clear the bar that the Raptors are setting. This is a quality team.