Author: Kurt Helin

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban on the Lakers: “I just hope they suck forever”


There’s a lot of schadenfreude around the league as everyone watches the Lakers struggle to a 1-9 start. This is an organization that through a combination of shrewd and clever management, the lure of a big market, and some luck have been the most consistently successful franchise in the NBA for the last few decades. There have not been many downs and the ones that did come were not deep and didn’t last that long.

It feels different now. This team is terrible. The Lakers’ plan to get out of that spot is a tried and true formula for them — lure top free agents with the advantages of a big market plus the money to offer max contracts (plus for the next year at least the chance to play with Kobe Bryant). It’s worked before.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Los Angeles sports news icon Fred Roggin on his Beast 980 radio show he’s not sure that strategy is going to work as well as it has before. Then he laughingly said he hopes this latest slide continues. Forever.

“As far as the Lakers go, I think there are going to be a lot of teams that are saying, ‘I’ve got a ton of cap room,’ and signing three big free agents to come play for them. Los Angeles has always been considered a destination city, so maybe they feel that’s a valid strategy. You know me, Fred. Personally, I just hope they suck forever.”

Cuban said he has always tried to be a contrarian in the NBA, when all the teams gravitated toward one strategy he went the other way. Right now, with the coming bump in the salary cap due to revenue from the new $24 billion television deal, there are going to be a lot of teams with genuine cap space to spend. Teams that really only need one piece to contend will even have room to maneuver. Which means a crowded marketplace for the Lakers.

That said, history suggests betting against the Lakers is not the smart play.

Portland reserve guard C.J. McCollum out at least month with fractured finger

New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers
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Wesley Mathews has played well at the two guard spot for Portland this season, but the team leans on second-year player C.J. McCollum to get him some rest each game plus knock down some threes. Well, they did anyway.

McCollum will be out at least a month after a fracture to his right index finger suffered in the Trail Blazers win over the Pelicans Monday, the team has announced. The injury occurred in the fourth quarter: McCollum grabbed an offensive rebound and when he went back up was fouled on the hand by New Orleans’ Eric Gordon (you can see the play above).

McCollum will be re-evaluated in a month, but could be out a little longer.

McCollum has played just more than 13 minutes a game for Portland this season, averaging 5 points a game but knocking down 46 percent of his threes. He missed most of last season due to a foot injury.

With him out expect to see a little more Will Barton, and the Blazers could slide Nicolas Batum to the two and play Dorell Wright at the three. Terry Stotts has some options.

Police re-open investigation of Dwight Howard allegedly abusing his child


The evidence around Dwight Howard in a recently highlighted Florida case seemed pretty damning — a doctor said it appeared the NBA star’s son was struck multiple times with the buckle end of a belt — but officially that investigation was closed with “no substantiated findings of physical injuries.”

However, Cobb County Police in Georgia have re-opened an investigation from this summer into Howard’s alleged abuse of a child, NBC News learned.

The case involves an incident during the summer of 2014, Sgt. Dana Pierce of the Cobb County Police told NBC News in a phone conversation. On Oct. 1 the Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families in Florida mailed a report to Cobb County Police of alleged child abuse. The police investigated, but said they didn’t have enough evidence to proceed.

New information on the case has emerged in the last 48 hours that caused the Cobb County Police to re-open the case, Sgt. Pierce said. To protect the alleged victim in this case the police could not provide any details.

Howard told police after the Florida incident that he had hit his child with a belt, saying he didn’t know it was wrong because that’s how he was raised. Howard’s attorney called the Florida case “frivolous allegations” and said it was a mother trying to use the child as a pawn against Howard.

Howard was born and raised in the Atlanta area. Cobb County is just north of the city (less than 20 miles).

Howard has multiple children by multiple mothers, although the exact number is a matter of speculation as they rarely come forward.

Dallas’ offense is simply dominating (so far)

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks

This post has to come with the “Small Sample Size” theater warning, we are just 10 games into the season. But…

Dallas’ offense looks amazing. Stunningly good. Crisp and very hard to defend.

The Mavericks are scoring 115.5 points per 100 possessions so far this season. Second best in the NBA? Cleveland. But that high-powered, star driven offense is putting 109.7 per 100 possessions — 5.8 worse than Dallas. Dallas is second in the NBA in team true shooting percentage at 58 percent (the league average is closer to 54 percent), they are third in the NBA with 18.9 percent of their possessions including an assist, but more importantly they have the best assist to turnover ratio in the league.

How are they doing it? A heavy dose of pick-and-roll with the right personnel to run it well, something Jameer Nelson told the fantastic Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN in a TrueHoop chat.

“We just play together,” Nelson said. “Coach puts us in the situation where we’re going to be successful and there’s a lot of movement, a lot of penetrating to the paint, and great guys that set picks and roll for us. And we have the best shooter out there in Dirk (Nowitzki) and he draws attention and allows you to get in the paint so it makes the playing a little easier for you.”

Dallas is running more pick-and-roll than anyone in the Association so far this season — and they should. Think about it. They can run the Monta Ellis/Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-roll that confounded everyone last season but now they also have Chandler Parsons on the weak side and you have to be careful about helping off him. Or they can run the Nelson/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll — Chandler sets a big pick and rolls hard — and they have Nowitzki and Chandler and Ellis spacing the floor. There are multiple combinations that can run the pick-and-roll and no matter who does it they have shooters everywhere.

The bottom line, Dallas is penetrating and getting to the rim, with that breaking defenses down. Then they finish — they are hitting 68.5 percent of shots inside five feet, second best in the NBA. Add to that the team is selfless with the ball, moving it crisply, and you can’t defend it well.

Also overlooked by many but mentioned by Nelson — Rick Carlisle is as good as any coach in the league at Xs and Os. He’s an underrated coach by many casual fans and commenters (inside the league he’s pretty revered as a coach). He does a brilliant job of getting guys in good spots, getting them to play to their strengths and not to do too much.

It’s working.

If Dallas can keep their offense anywhere in the ballpark of this level and keep improving their defense (currently 13th in the league) this team becomes very dangerous come the playoffs.

It’s a small sample size, but Dallas is a team to keep an eye on.

Paul Pierce: “I probably wouldn’t have been drafted” into today’s NBA

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

It happens every spring — we fall in love with length and athleticism. With potential. With the dreaded “upside.” Then we get to Summer League and the NBA season and we see that guy we loved the night of the NBA Draft and we say, “wow, he has a long way to go to be a basketball player.”

Washington’s Paul Pierce was on the Dan Patrick Show Tuesday (aired on the NBC Sports Network) and talked about that, saying in today’s NBA he “probably wouldn’t be drafted.” He noted that as hyped as this last NBA draft class was Pierce hasn’t seen basketball players, just athletes. (I’d suggest giving Andrew Wiggins some time, but we’ll see.)

I don’t think that’s true, but he might have gone lower than the No. 10 pick he was out of Kansas back in 1998. He’d have ended up being the kind of later first round pick that smart GMs of veteran teams make.

Pierce was more athletic than some people remember, but he has always had that crafty, old man at the Y game where he just always seems to make the right read, the right pass, and can get to his spots and hit contested shots from there all night long. His game was never about overwhelming athleticism, it was about his IQ, his shot making.

And sometimes all that does get overlooked. In part because some guys struggle to bring that to the next level, but those that can play for a long time in the league.