Kurt Helin

Paul Allen

Blazers’ owner Paul Allen not bitter about Aldridge, embraces rebuild

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Paul Allen has been through this before, watching his GM have to rebuild a team he thought was going to take steps into the elite of the NBA. It’s happened a few times.

But he’s not bitter about it, he told the media on Tuesday as Trail Blazers training camp opened. He took a very “it is what it is” attitude. Starting with not being bitter about LaMarcus Aldridge choosing to leave for the Spurs as a free agent, as reported by the Oregonian.

“I think LaMarcus had a lot of options. We went down to Dallas, Neil and I pitched him, and he chose to go a different direction. We made it to his last few choices and he was good enough to call me up and explain his decision and all that. It’s tough for a franchise, because we were all thinking that we had a real shot at getting him back. But in the end, he chose to go a different direction and now it’s a new day. We’ve moved on and I think you can feel the excitement and the energy in the gym now.”

So it’s fair to call it a rebuild?

“Rebuild. Retool. We’re bringing, I think, six players back from last year’s playoff roster, so that’s a big transition. That’s nine new players. So, yeah, it’s definitely a transition. But once you embrace that and see what these new players do — and I hope you get a sense of that as the games start here Monday — that’s exciting. And it’s going to be an exciting season for the fans.”

 

Allen has had success rebuilding with young stars on that other team he owns, the Seattle Seahawks. Things worked out pretty well for them. This is a different sport, and the NBA is a different animal, but Allen sees a model for success there.

It also helps when your rebuild starts around Damian Lillard.

That said, it’s going to be a big step back for the Blazers this season. GM Neil Olshey has some work to do to bring more talent in on the roster, but when Aldridge left he made the right call going for another rebuild (letting Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez and others go, plus trading Nicolas Batum). It’s all just going to take some time, and there are going to be bumps on the road trying to get there.

Kings have wide open race for who starts at four next to Cousins

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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It could be the athletic but raw Willie Cauley-Stein.

Or if George Karl wants to go big Kosta Koufos.

Or he can go small and start Rudy Gay.

George Karl has options as Kings training camp opens in San Diego, but who ends up starting at the four next to DeMarcus Cousins remains up in the air. Karl said after the first day of camp he was just going to let things play out. Here is what Karl said, via James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.

“We have different looks, we have different types of big men,” Cousins said. “Willie’s a young athletic big man.  We’ve go Kosta who’s a banger and I’m my specific kind of big man. I think we have different looks. I think it’s going to be good in the end…

“Kosta played pretty well,” Karl added. “He’s a better player than he was when I had him in Denver. My gut says I thought he played well with Cuz….

“I think everybody is going to get their opportunity,” Karl said. “I think everybody knows that I would like to play Rudy some at four. What’s our best team? I don’t know.”

I think there has been an expectation among fans that Cauley-Stein would get the starting spot, and he ultimately may, but talking to scouts at Summer League in Las Vegas they universally said he had a long way to go in understanding rotations and where to be in the NBA game. He has the athleticism to help cover some of those mental mistakes, but he’s going to learn some harsh lessons. Karl may not be willing to let him learn on the job.

That said, Koufos is more of a center who makes Cousins the four and moves him outside a little because the floor spacing would be poor (84 percent of Koufos’ shots last season came inside 10 feet). Meanwhile Gay fits the running style Karl prefers but in the West — where Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, and other athletic bigs play the four — Gay could be a serious defensive liability.

Karl is going to run a lot of different looks out there in training camp and to start the season, and we’ll see who earns the spot.

Derrick Rose denies rape charge in lawsuit, says everything consensual

Chicago Bulls V Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three
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Derrick Rose has denied everything alleged in a lawsuit filed against him by a former girlfriend, one that says Rose drugged her and gang-raped her with some of his friends. He reiterated that at Bulls media day (then went off on a tangent the Bulls wish he wouldn’t have).

Tuesday it was Rose’s lawyers turn to deny everything, in papers filed in the case. From the CNN story on the response:

NBA star Derrick Rose said in court documents filed last week that he had consensual sex with a former girlfriend who has accused him of rape….

In Rose’s legal response, the Chicago star’s attorney says the woman consented to sex with more than one of the three defendants on several occasions. Rose also says the woman invited them to her apartment, buzzed them into the complex, opened her front door and consented to “additional group activities later that evening.”

The response goes on to say she became upset over money.

Rose has other issues on his mind as well, Wednesday he undergoes surgery for the fractured left orbital bone.

As I have said before, from where you and I sit there is no way to judge truth from fiction in this case. If Rose did the things alleged, he deserves far more than financial losses in a civil case. If this turns out to be spurious, this woman has made it that much harder for the far too many women trying to find justice in actual sexual assault cases. I’m not going to pretend to know what actually happened.

All I do know is regardless of the outcome this case makes me sad.

 

Sefolosha returns to Hawks, hoping to move on after arrest

Thabo Sefolosha
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Thabo Sefolosha stood along the baseline, a basketball under his right arm as he watched a drill on the first day of training camp for the Atlanta Hawks.

Just routine stuff.

But Sefolosha is relishing every moment of his return to the court, anything to help him move on from a disputed arrest by New York City police that he said led to a broken right leg and knocked him out of the playoffs.

“It’s been a long road,” he said. “It was definitely tough watching from the sideline in the playoffs, not being able to help the team.”

Sefolosha was a key contributor off the bench, a defensive stopper who helped the Hawks to a franchise-record 60 wins and the top seed in the East. Without him, Atlanta still managed to reach the conference final for the first time, but his absence on the perimeter became apparent as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers romped to a four-game sweep.

“Sometimes you look out there, and you feel like his arms and legs are everywhere,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Solid seems like a boring word, but he’s really a good, solid defender who does a lot of things within whatever scheme you’re doing.”

During the final week of the regular season, Sefolosha and then-teammate Pero Antic made a late-night stop at a Manhattan nightclub popular with athletes and celebrities. Police arrived after another NBA player, Chris Copeland, was stabbed during an altercation.

There was no indication the Atlanta players were with Copeland or had anything to do with the stabbing, but officers say they interfered with the crime scene. They were both arrested and, at some point, Sefolosha wound up with a broken fibula and torn ligaments.

The charges against Antic have since been dropped, but Sefolosha turned down a lenient plea-bargain that would have required him to do a single day of community service. His trial is scheduled for Monday in New York.

“I’m very confident,” Sefolosha said. “But at the same time it’s not something I’m used to. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I’m confident and I know in my heart that I (did not do) anything wrong.”

The burden of the case – and the possibility of a civil lawsuit against police – is a distraction Sefolosha would prefer not to have as he prepares for a new season and the chance to move into the Hawks’ starting lineup.

“It’s definitely on my mind,” he said. “It’s not the best time to be dealing with all this. But it’s got to be done. I’m trying to be strong for my family and my teammates and my team, and trying to do what’s right.”

Sefolosha seems the most logical candidate to take over at small forward for DeMarre Carroll, who left the Hawks for a $60 million contract with Toronto.

Yet there are questions about Sefolosha’s offensive skills.

“I think offensively he’s a little bit underrated as far as his decision-making and passing, his slashing and understanding timing,” Budenholzer said. “We’ve just got to continue to work with his shooting and get him to where he’s making shots and he’s comfortable there.”

While Sefolosha has been cleared to take part in all activities, he acknowledged that he’s not yet at 100 percent. His minutes will be limited in camp and during preseason games.

“It’s been only 5 1-2 months,” Sefolosha said,. “I’m still building strength and building confidence.”

The Hawks have other candidates. Kent Bazemore is a bit undersized for the position, but he played well in the playoffs after Carroll was slowed by an ankle injury. The Hawks also have newcomer Tim Hardaway Jr., acquired from the New York Knicks.

Kyle Korver, another Atlanta player coming back from an injury, has been getting a lot of one-on-one time with Sefolosha during the rehab process.

“I want Thabo to be on my team again,” Korver said. “He looks great. He’s shooting the ball really good. … I think he’s going to have a great year.”

Sefolosha is certainly ready to move on.

He wants to be known for what he does on the court, not for an incident that has been linked to other racially charged incidents involving police.

However, Sefolosha, a native of Switzerland who is black, did say it has opened his eyes “to some degree.”

“I’m the same person. I will continue to be the same person,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’m still in the middle of it. But hopefully it will be a thing of the past soon.”

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Transition Buckets: Kenneth Faried is not Brian Shaw’s biggest fan

Kenneth Faried, Brian Shaw
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With the opening of NBA training camps, there are a lot of interesting tidbits of news and stories worth reading we don’t get to here at NBC’s PBT. And we’re bloggers — we have an instinctive love of the bullet point. So we’ve combined them into one post that can get you caught up some news and notes around the NBA quickly — ”Transition buckets.” Because they are quick hitters.

• The Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried remains on the trade block in Denver, but he’s looking to have a bounce-back season under new coach Mike Malone. Players love Malone. Former coach Brian Shaw…. let’s let Faried sum up that era, from the Denver Post.

“If you don’t have a coach that believes in you, then what’s the point of going out there and playing?” Faried said. “If your coach doesn’t have faith in you and puts you out in the fire against all these great players, you’re going to get torched.”

• The woman who was a teenager when she says she was sexually assaulted by former NBA star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson a couple decades ago is speaking out.

• Claims of players losing/gaining weight heading into training camp usually have about as much meaning as a college hookup. However, Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry really has slimmed down, and that could make things interesting in Toronto.

• While we’re talking Raptors, they did exercise the third-year options on Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira (both are still under their rookie contracts).

• Doc Rivers was very open about how things went this summer and the lessons he learned, spilling that to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Regrets? He has a few. But too few to mention.

• If you want to see a video of LeBron James working out before training camp opens, follow this link.

Steve Nash plans to watch a lot of video with Stephen Curry. And it’s not the collected works of Stanley Kubrick.

• Meanwhile, other people were watching video of Nash.

• Despite all the offseason moves (such as adding DeMarre Carroll), it is the development of Jonas Valanciunas that will be key to the Raptors taking a step forward this season.

• The Birdman Chris Andersen wants to play another 20 years in the league. Or just a couple.

• In case you didn’t know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a fiction book (along with Anna Waterhouse)called Mycroft Holmes. He is the older brother of Sherlock Holmes, who you may have heard of — Kareem is a huge Holmesian. For those of you who are audio book fans, the book just came out through Audible.

• You had to know the Atlanta Hawks’ Ashley Madison-inspired ad campaign would offend some people, here is the response from one quarter.