Kurt Helin

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2015 - Arrivals

Anthony, Knicks keeping expectations low after 17-win season

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — No bold predictions from the New York Knicks. No real predictions at all, actually.

“To be quite honest, I don’t really have any expectations at this time,” Carmelo Anthony said.

Maybe he shouldn’t. He’s never played with most of his teammates and the ones who were Knicks last season didn’t exactly distinguish themselves, as New York went 17-65 in its worst year ever.

But media day is usually a time for high hopes and fresh starts, when players and coaches speak confidently about how good things can be. Just last year, Knicks President Phil Jackson even said he thought his team would compete for a playoff spot.

Anthony isn’t ready to say anything like that yet.

“It’s going to take some time to kind of figure out what our expectations will be,” said the All-Star forward, who is fully recovered from knee surgery in February. “It’s good not to have any expectations at this time. It gives us a chance to kind of have a fresh start, get our identity.”

That will start when the Knicks open training camp at West Point. Anthony and many of the Knicks’ newcomers have been working out together for a few weeks, but Tuesday is when they finally do it with the coaching staff.

It’s also when rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the No. 4 overall pick from Latvia, can start figuring out his NBA potential. He said Monday he doesn’t know yet, keeping with the theme of keeping expectations low – or absent.

“All that I know is that I’ve played against the guys, pickup games, 5 on 5, that’s how I can rate myself,” he said. “But now that training camp has started, the real deal is here.”

He played 1-on-1 games this summer with Anthony, who reiterated again that he supported the Porzingis pick even though reports after the draft said he didn’t. The 20-year-old forward said he won some of them and appears to have also won Anthony’s respect, with the 13th-year pro looking to help his new teammate understand the pressure he will face in New York.

Jackson couldn’t land another superstar to pair with Anthony but signed a number of veterans who have been contributors on winning teams, such as center Robin Lopez, guards Arron Afflalo and Sasha Vujacic, and forward Kevin Seraphin.

Seraphin was with the Washington Wizards when they made the gradual climb from the lottery to the playoffs and thinks the Knicks can follow the same process.

“I think if we keep working out, putting everything together that we can do some great things,” he said. “I think we have a good team and we can surprise people.”

It’s hard to say if Anthony would be one of them, since he was so guarded with his thoughts about the team’s potential. He couldn’t even take much from watching them last season after his surgery, since he didn’t know who would be coming back.

He said he wants to reward Jackson’s confidence that he can be the centerpiece of a winning team at 31, and doesn’t think he is running out of time to do it.

“My window is open. I don’t think it’s closing, but for more the most part coming into this year I think we get a chance to write our own destiny right now and that’s a good thing,” Anthony said.

“We can start off fresh, start off with a clean slate and we can write whatever story we want to write, whether good or bad. And I think guys are excited about that, to have a chance to start off fresh and kind of put the past behind us and move forward.”

Hoiberg doesn’t think Derrick Rose needs nights off

Chicago Bulls V Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four
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Derrick Rose has played 100 regular season games total in the last four NBA campaigns. That’s out of a possible 312 games. He’s had surgeries to both knees (an ACL and a meniscus), hamstring injuries, toe injuries, back injuries, and the list goes on and on. The number of minutes former coach Tom Thibodeau asked Rose to play (not to mention the rest of the team’s core) was one of the reasons he was forced out.

Which is why this comment from new coach Fred Hoiberg at Bulls media day raised some eyebrows (and sounded more like spin than reality). Courtesy PBT’s own Sean Highkin, who was at Bulls media day:

Rose is going to get nights off this season. Hoiberg would not have this job if he didn’t plan to reduce minutes and load on the core players, with the goals of having them stay healthy and be fresher for the playoffs. It’s not just Rose, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol are going to get some breaks, and younger guys like Jimmy Butler are not going to get run into the ground.

I think this was more about Hoiberg saying “Rose looks like Rose again.” Which he had only in flashes last season, we’ll need to see more of it before I fully buy in. However, Rose is feeling confident, as noted by Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

On another note out of training camp, in the half court in particular look for the Bulls to try to play off the high IQ game of Pau Gasol.

That’s a good plan, although at 35 Hoiberg needs to make sure Gasol gets some rest, too.

Kyrie Irving has been running for three weeks

Kyrie Irving
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If the Cavaliers are finally going to bring a title to Northeast Ohio, they are going to need Kyrie Irving. And titles are not won in October and November — but you can lose them there. Meaning the Cavaliers are being cautious with his return from a fractured kneecap suffered in the first game of the NBA Finals.

But he is getting better — he’s back to running. That said, he’s not all the way back, but he’s improving. Irving talked about his return at Cavaliers media day, as reported by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Haynes.

Kevin Love (shoulder injury, also in the playoffs last season) will be ready to go at the start of the season.

Irving is expected to be out longer, likely missing the start of the season. The fact he’s running is a good sign, but it’s also different from the cutting, starting and stopping that is part of the pressure put on a knee during a game. Again, the Cavaliers are thinking about Irving in June, not October, when mapping out his return.

That said, he will be back long before the calendar turns to 2016.

51Q: The NBA’s most improved team will be…

Flip Saunders, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins
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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

What team will be the most improved in NBA this season?

Kurt Helin: Miami Heat

There are a few good candidates which could end up being the answer to this question. Below, Dan and Sean take an excellent one up in Minnesota. Oklahoma City getting healthy (hopefully) puts them in contention. Heck, even Sacramento if everything comes together for them could make the list (not going to bet on that one, though).

However, I will take the Miami Heat, a team that won just 37 games last season and will make a leap forward this season. Or to put that another way, I’m betting on the Miami Heat staying healthy. Which may not be wise — Dwyane Wade‘s knees are a chronic issue, Chris Bosh is coming off a life-threatening illness, Josh McRoberts basically missed last season — but I’ll take the risk. Miami’s starting five of Goran Dragic, Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside is the second best starting five East (for my money). Then they can bring McRoberts, Justise Winslow, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire and Mario Chalmers off the bench as a second unit. That’s a deep roster, which I think helps mitigate the health issues, and they get around 15 wins better this season.

Dan Feldman: Minnesota Timberwolves

They have the most room for improvement after going a league-worst 16-66 last year. They’re loaded with young talent. Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad could all help a team win right now or very soon. I’m betting on now. Flip Saunders’ leave of absence could set back the team in the short term, but Sam Mitchell is a capable coach. If I had a little more faith in Dwyane Wade’s health, I’d pick the Heat. But they won 37 games last year, 21 more than Minnesota. Even if Miami gets healthy, the Timberwolves can close that gap.

Sean Highkin: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves are still a year or two away from being a playoff contender, but they’ll definitely win more than 15 games — maybe as many as 25 or 30 if everyone can stay healthy. With Ricky Rubio getting closer to returning, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine have an actual playmaker to throw them lobs, one who only played 22 games last season. Last year’s team was a talented one ravaged by injuries; their luck can only improve this year. In addition to year two of Wiggins, the rest of their young core (LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Giorgui Dieng) should all take steps forward. Add in rookies Karl-Anthony Towns and Nemanja Bjelica and what could be the final year of Kevin Garnett‘s career, and this is a team that should be a League Pass favorite while finishing with at least something better than last year’s worst record in the league.

Report: Wizards’ Anderson slowed by ankle injury

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six
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Veteran Alan Anderson is going to get a lot of run this season in Washington coming off the bench because he can play the two when the Wizards go big (playing Marcin Gortat and Nene together) or he can be a three (maybe even a four when they go small. The Wizards are counting on a combination of Otto Porter, Jared Dudley, and Anderson to fill the void left by Paul Pierce.

But the former Brooklyn Net Anderson won’t be doing that at the start of training camp due to an ankle injury, reports J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.

“He may miss the beginning of camp,” one person told CSNmidatlantic.com….

Anderson, who is vying for time there off the bench, is having soreness and strength issues with his left ankle and that will limit him early. He may take part in some individual drills when camp opens on the campus of Towson University in Baltimore Country but the Wizards will be cautious in bringing him along. Anderson hasn’t had another procedure.

With the Brooklyn Nets last season, Anderson had surgery in May to remove bone spurs. The Wizards already are without Jared Dudley, who was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, after he had lower back surgery in July. Dudley could be out until November or December though he is currently doing non-contact drills.

What this means is that Porter and rookie Kelly Oubre will get the reps in camp, which for the young players is good. Martell Webster could step up into that role, although I’m not going to bet on that. Anderson should be rounding into form by the time the season starts.

We will see how this all impacts coach Randy Wittman, who likes to play big lineups and did almost all of last season up until going smaller (with Pierce at the four) more in the playoffs. With no Dudley and a potentially slowed Anderson, does he stay big more at the start of the season? Let’s hope not, but we shall see.