Kurt Helin

2015 NBA Draft

Report: Lakers would still trade D’Angelo Russell for DeMarcus Cousins straight up. Kings wouldn’t.

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DeMarcus Cousins’ agent Dan Fegan tried. He was the guy who guided Dwight Howard’s exit from Orlando, and now he was attempting to get his other top center out of Sacramento and to the Los Angeles Lakers. He got permission from the Kings’ owner to explore a deal, but he couldn’t find one that Kings GM and the owner would sign off on. Now more and more it looks like George Karl and Cousins may just have to try and get along.

But if something changes, the Lakers would gladly give up their recent No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell for Cousins, reports Mark Heisler at the Daily News.

Of course, it’s not the Lakers side of that equation that was ever in question.

You shortcut (the rebuilding process) at your peril, even if the Lakers were willing to trade their No. 2 pick for Sacramento’s even-higher-maintenance-than-Dwight-Howard DeMarcus Cousins … and would send Russell up there tomorrow if that would do it, a league source told me.

Not that it’s likely to happen, either. With owner Vivek Ranadive intent on not trading Cousins, much less to the hated Lakers, the Kings asked for the moon — the No. 2 pick, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, more picks.

That was the asking price I heard as well, and that maybe you could talk the Kings back to “just” Randle, Clarkson and now Russell but that was the floor.

That’s not a deal the Lakers should do.

Those three young players form a solid core, the kind free agents will take a long look at because there is potential. The Lakers will be swinging for the fences, and they will connect at some point. That doesn’t mean LaMarcus Aldridge comes this summer (smart money there is still on the Texas teams), nor Kevin Love (don’t expect him to bolt Cleveland, at least this summer). But it means that over the next few years the Lakers are likely to land one or two big names, which paired with that core vault them back up near the top of the West.

In the short term, you sell the Kobe Bryant farewell tour (even if he will not call it that).

Cousins is a cornerstone player, but you can’t give up everything to get him.

Report: As expected, LeBron James tells Cavaliers he will opt-out of contract. He’s expected to re-sign in Cleveland.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six
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LeBron James will be a free agent this summer.

Except it’s not “here we go again” from last summer because nobody around the league thinks LeBron is going to bolt Cleveland again.

Still, it is now official, LeBron has told the Cavaliers he will opt out. Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports went to Twitter with the report.

It’s quaint LeBron wants to pretend to leverage the Cavaliers into roster upgrades, as if he didn’t have that kind of leverage without the waiting period. He wants

He will re-sign with the Cavaliers, another max deal with another opt-out after one year. Then he will opt out again in the summer of 2016 and sign another max deal, this one under the new salary cap that spikes with the influx of money from the new television contract. He’s not taking a discount, and the leverage game is a reminder to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert that he needs to keep spending to win.

The reality is LeBron is not deserting Cleveland again. He will not even meet with other teams.

LeBron did a lot to restore his reputation over the past year with the move back home to Cleveland — which sold well to a national audience — and his play in the NBA Finals despite losing. His image is better, to leave again would tarnish that image. Plus, where is he going to go where he has a young Kyrie Irving (and most likely Kevin Love) on his team, plus have this kind of control over the organization?

Short of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert professing his allegiance to the so-called Islamic State — or some other radically unexpected stupid move that forces LeBron’s hand — he’s not leaving the Cavaliers again. LeBron is home for good.

Report: Sixers did not disclose Jrue Holiday injury to Pelicans, fined $3 million by NBA

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings
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On draft night two years ago, the Philadephia 76ers traded Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel. In those two years, Holiday has been healthy enough to play in 74 games, missing 41 games his first year after the trade due to a stress fracture in his right leg that required surgery.

The NBA says that the Sixers knew about a stress fracture in Holiday’s leg but didn’t disclose it — and they fined the Sixers for it, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer.

The 76ers were ordered to pay the New Orleans Pelicans $3 million by the NBA last season for not fully disclosing Jrue Holiday’s injury history before he was traded two years ago, according to two sources….

The sources said Holiday played with stress fractures in his lower right leg during his final season with the Sixers. However, the sources said, those injures weren’t fully disclosed to the Pelicans.

The Sixers, of course, deny this. Also, the Pelicans gave Holiday a physical before the trade went through.

However, the NBA felt strongly enough about it after looking at the evidence to fine Philadephia for its actions.

Interestingly, the Sixers are trying to get the league to look closely at what the Lakers knew before trading Andrew Bynum to them back in 2012, according to the same report. Bynum never played a minute for the Sixers.

 

Kobe being Kobe: “Friends come and go but banners hang forever”

2015 BET Experience - Genius Talks Presented By AT&T
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Kobe Bryant was at the BET awards show Saturday (everybody hasan awards show now). He went to the BET Experience at LA Live and did an interview withinterview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill, where she asked him about about his friends. Kobe was vintage Kobe (as reported by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes).

This is not the first time Kobe has spoken of how his quest for titles, his sacrifices to the basketball gods included him forgoing close friendships. He said this to Chuck Klosterman in GQ earlier this year.

I have friends. But being a “great friend” is something I will never be. I can be a good friend. But not a great friend. A great friend will call you every day and remember your birthday. I’ll get so wrapped up in my shit, I’ll never remember that stuff. And the people who are my friends understand this, and they’re usually the same way. You gravitate toward people who are like you. But the kind of relationships you see in movies—that’s impossible for me. I have good relationships with players around the league. LeBron and I will text every now and then. KG and I will text every now and then. But in terms of having one of those great, bonding friendships—that’s something I will probably never have. And it’s not some smug thing. It’s a weakness. It’s a weakness.

We as a society venerate people who are single-minded in their focus, from playing basketball to making great sushi. Kobe has that kind of focus, but it doesn’t necessarily make them great people.  Remembered, for sure — Kobe will have a statue outside Staples Center in Los Angeles in a few years. But the kind of person you’d want to hang with, go have a drink with? Maybe not.

What you have to respect about Kobe is that he is self-aware and understanding that for him this is a choice.

Kevin Durant destroys kid at pop-a-shot

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder
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It doesn’t matter what kind of shooting you’re talking about, Kevin Durant is good at it.

He was out in Los Angeles and swung by a Dave and Busters — a combination restaurant and arcade, for those of you who only eat in places with a Michelin Star — and decide to play a little pop-a-shot. And he’s pretty good at that, too.

At least he didn’t swat the kid’s shot.

One of the best parts of the next NBA season? Seeing Kevin Durant back on the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His foot surgery and Russell Westbrook’s injuries sucked some of the fun out of the West. (Although I’m not sure the other teams in the West feel that way.)