Kurt Helin

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers

Dorell Wright’s advice to brother Delon: Avoid card games on planes

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Dorell Wright spent the past 11 seasons in the NBA (he is playing in China this season). He was drafted by Miami and played for Golden State, Philadelphia, and Portland as well. He knows his way around the Association.

His younger brother Delon Wright is entering his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors.

Dorrell penned an open letter to his brother for the Players’ Tribune offering advice on navigating the NBA, on and off the court — the stuff they’re not going to cover in the rookie symposium.

First, run away from the card games on the team plane. Don’t play. Don’t sit down at that table. And if you do play, put a limit on your buy-in. Pick a number, and if you lose it, get up. Guys will talk trash and try to keep you in….

Second, get ready to hear lots of trash talk from the fans. Some places are worse than others. Golden State is going to be live this year because they’re the defending champs. I love playing there. Madison Square Garden is always crazy. And in Philly, there’s this guy behind the Sixers bench who writes down all your stats on a dry-erase board if you’re struggling. He’s hilarious, so don’t take that too personally. When I was traded to Philly in 2012, he was the first guy I asked about. I wanted to make sure he was still a season-ticket holder.

Dorell was clearly having fun with this, but as the letter went on the advice got more serious.

What they don’t tell you is that it’s not just the availability of money that adds temptation, but time. You have all this free time to buy, buy, buy. Really, free time is the root of the trouble you can find as a pro. That’s the hardest thing about the adjustment you’re about to make. When I was at prep school before jumping to the NBA, I had a strict schedule. Be at school at 7:30. Breakfast. Assembly. Class all day, then basketball. Afterwards, it was study hall and maybe one more chance to sneak in some gym time. Most of your days in college were basically planned for you, too.

In the NBA, on non-game days, you’re there at 8 a.m. to get your extra work in and then practice with the team. That takes maybe four hours, tops. Now you’ve got the rest of the day to yourself. You’ll need to learn how to manage your time.

That is sage advice. These are young men with money, time, and people hanging out on the periphery not looking out for their best interests. It’s easy to lose track of the fact this is a job — one you can lose quickly if you don’t respect it.

Go read the entire piece, it’s worth the effort.

 

 

Mikhail Prokhorov lead Nets players in drills at camp Wednesday

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets
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It sounds like something from an Onion article — NBA’s latest craze: working out with Russian oligarch.

But that’s what happened at Nets training camp on Wednesday, where team owner Mikhail Prokhorov was demonstrating Tescao drills (which I’ll admit, I was not familiar with but are pretty amusing to watch.

Things you’re not going to see Jim Buss do include….

The New York Post’s Tim Bontemps put up a few more on his Instagram account, and again Prokhorov was far better than his employees at these drills.

This is an example of what Mikhail Prokhorov is doing right now at Nets practice:

A video posted by Tim Bontemps (@timbontemps) on

The players aren't quite as good:

A video posted by Tim Bontemps (@timbontemps) on

More Prokhorov and RHJ

A video posted by Tim Bontemps (@timbontemps) on

Kevin Love to be higher profile, get more touches in Cleveland offense

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love
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Kevin Love was frustrated at the start of last season. He wasn’t getting as many touches as he was used to, and he was being forced out of his comfort zone on offense (if only Chris Bosh had warned him about all this).

Heading into the second season of the Cavaliers’ big three era, everyone around the team is saying the right things about getting Love more touches in his spots on the floor — LeBron James, coach David Blatt, even Love himself. Which is what you should expect at the start of training camp, the offense hasn’t been put under any stress yet.

It’s just a comfort level thing if you ask LeBron and Love, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN did.

“I just think he’s more comfortable in the situation that he’s in,” James said after practice Wednesday. “He’s got a year under his belt; he knows what he expects out of himself and what his teammates expect out of him. I expect big things from him this year with a year up under his belt.”

That’s two uses of “under his belt” in one paragraph, so you know LeBron is serious.

“I think all of us will be more comfortable with what we’re trying to do out there,” Love said. “I think that, like I said (Monday), it all starts with the big man, No. 23, and it all kind of trickles down from there. I think if all the pieces fit together as we expect, we’ll be a tough team to deal with.”

Coach David Blatt has bothered to watch film and think about this.

“No question, this summer we looked for and identified ways that we can take advantage of Kev’s unique skill set and hopefully we’ll see that on the floor,” Blatt said.

I’d say this is the most important one, the coach saying he has come up with sets that play to Love’s strengths, save for one little detail — Blatt’s offensive designs are not the ones the Cavs often run. Last year’s Cavaliers’ offense looked nothing like what he ran in Europe or tried to install in training camp, LeBron and Kyrie Irving pushed them to a more traditional/predictable offense (which worked for them because of their talent level).

Love is going to get more touches to start this season, in large part because Irving will be sidelined. But when LeBron and Irving — two players who like the ball in their hands and to penetrate — are both back on the court, will things really change for Love? It’s one of the questions the Cavaliers need to answer during the season if they are going to challenge whatever team comes out of the West into the NBA Finals.

Wizards unveil “Baltimore Pride” alternate uniforms for this season

wizards baltimore pride wall beal
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For 10 seasons from 1964 to 1973, the team currently known as the Washington Wizards was the Baltimore Bullets.

The current team is going to honor that heritage and teams — which featured stars such as Walt Bellamy, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, and Wes Unseld — by wearing a “Baltimore Pride” alternate uniform for six games this season.

This is not exactly what the old Bullets wore, in part because the colors needed to be updated to the current Wizards’ red, blue and white. The shorts back then were not this long, either (thank Buddha that style changed).

The reaction on Twitter was basically how you expect Twitter to react to anything, we’ll see if people come around over time. Myself, I don’t mind it, then again I tend to like soccer kits.

Gregg Popovich reiterates he’ll coach past when Tim Duncan retires

Gregg Popovich
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As he always seems to do, Tim Duncan is flying under the radar. When you talk about all-time greats, lock future Hall of Famers who may be playing their final season this go around, the conversation focuses out West on Kobe Bryant (who doesn’t know what he is going to do). This could be Duncan’s final season as well, he’s not sure, but it’s not drawing the same spotlight.

Whether Duncan (and Manu Ginobili) go or not, Gregg Popovich is staying.

He’s said that before, and after just recruiting LaMarcus Aldridge into the fold Pop isn’t going to just bolt, he told ESPN’s Sage Steele in an interview (hat tip SI):

“Signing LaMarcus [Aldridge], I had to make a commitment,” Popovich said. “I couldn’t say, ‘LaMarcus, we would love to sign you, see you later.’ So I committed to those guys and I committed to LaMarcus. So, I’ve got to fulfill my promise.”

Popovich has four seasons left on his contract that he said he would coach through the end of the deal — much to the delight of sideline reporters everywhere.

The Spurs have set themselves up beautifully to transition to a post-Duncan world, in part through smart front office work and in part because Duncan took far less money ($10 million this season) than he could have demanded to give his franchise flexibility.

As Duncan fades away, this will be Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard‘s team. Tony Parker will hang around a few more years (although his skills are fading). They will remain a powerhouse, Popovich will be there to make sure of that.