Kurt Helin


PBT Podcast: Should the Knicks take Justise Winslow? That and other draft questions.

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The top two slots in the NBA Draft are all but locked in — Karl Anthony Towns will go to the Timberwolves at No. 1 and Jahlil Okafor will go to the Lakers at No. 2. Anything you hear different is spin and smoke.

At No. 3 the draft gets interesting. Does Philadelphia take D’Angelo Russell? Kristaps Porzingis? Do they trade out? And what should the Knicks do at No. 4?

In this podcast we asked PBT’s resident draft expert Ed Isaacson what he would do if he were Phil Jackson and Okafor, Towns and Russell were off the board — and he said take Justise Winslow out of Duke.

We get into some detail breaking down the draft in this podcast, with Isaacson — of NBA Draft Blog and Rotoworld — answering the questions of  PBT’s Kurt Helin and NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard. There is love for Bobby Portis, questions about Robert Upshaw, talk about what to expect from Porzingis and Mario Hezonja, plus talk of Emmanuel Mudiay adventure in China. Plus much more.

Spend an hour with us and you will be better prepped for the draft. Promise.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

New report says D’Angelo Russell would be just fine playing in Philadelphia

D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

First came D’Angelo Russell missing a workout with the Sixers because he was “sick.” Clearly this was him trying to avoid going to Philadelphia… until he showed up for a rescheduled workout and killed it.

Then came the report that Russell doesn’t want to play in Philadelphia.

You had to know the counter to that report was coming, and it did from an incredibly reliable source — Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.

I know most fans in Philly want to see the team draft Russell because the impressive point guard out of Ohio State — a guy who can score but also has great court vision and passing skills — fits well on paper with a front line of Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and, eventually, Dario Saric. I also know that having Sam Hinkie as your GM means a flood of rumors and reports, including reliable ones that Hinkie is seriously considering drafting seven-foot, sweet-shooting Euro Kristaps Porzingis.

As for the Russell rumors…

Two outside forces are at play here. First, the New York Knicks would love Russell to fall to them — if that happens, they keep the pick and take him. (The Knicks also would love Jahlil Okafor to fall to them, that’s not happening.) So if the Knicks can float rumors that make it less likely Philly takes Russell, why wouldn’t they do it? Second, Russell’s agent knows the marketing potential of his client landing in NYC, and he’d be far from the first agent to try and steer his client toward a major market in the draft.

All that said, none of it matters — if Hinkie and the Sixers decide Russell is their man, they can take him, and he basically has to play there. This isn’t the NFL where a top draft pick can Eli Manning his way to New York. If the Sixers draft Russell, he’ll go (unless he wants to sit out all basketball for a year, re-enter the draft, and then again be at the mercy of franchises he may not wish to play for).

The ball is in the Sixers court; they just may take that ball and go play in Europe.

Report: Rockets look to bring back rookies K.J. McDaniels, Kostas Papanikolaou.

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets

Kostas Papanikolaou played in just more than half the Rockets’ games this past season, and got 18.5 minutes a night when he did get in. K.J. McDaniels had been a stud rookie in Philadelphia but barely saw the court in Houston as the season wore on (then fractured his elbow in the season finale).

The Rockets were the No. 2 seed and a Western Conference Finals participant, they are not a team flush with minutes to develop rookies like Papanikolaou and McDaniels. Yet, watch the best teams in the NBA and they find ways to replenish their roster and stay young (and athletic) by developing younger players.

Which is why the Rockets want both Papanikolaou and McDaniels back, reports Jonathan Feigen at the Houston Chronicle.

KJ McDaniels will be a free agent, but the Rockets hope to sign him. The Rockets do want to bring back Kostas Papanikolaou, but Rosas said “a decision has not been made” about whether to exercise their option on the second year of his contract or to try to sign him again as a free agent.

They likely will bring both back.

McDaniels is a restricted free agent, and while there will be some interest, a guy coming off an elbow fracture is not going to draw the kind of offer that Houston would hesitate to match. With Papanikolaou, the Rockets likely pick up his option, then have him as a restricted free agent next summer.

The Rockets have other, higher priorities to focus on this summer — what to do at the point guard spot, adding depth up front — so the rookies are not on the front burner. If those two want to see the court more next season, the quickest way to do it is develop a quality three-point shot — the Rockets are looking to add shooters. Start to show that off and minutes will follow.

Jamal Crawford shows up, puts on show at Isaiah Thomas’ basketball tournament

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven

The free-flowing, light-defense, street-ball games of the summer pro-am and tournament circuit fits the game of some NBA players more than others.

It fits Jamal Crawford like a tailored suit.

The Clippers’ Crawford showed off his game Memorial Day weekend in Tacoma, Wash., (remember Crawford is from the Seattle area) at Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas’ Memorial Day Zeke-End Basketball Tournament. The best part of this video is when Crawfords decides to try and nutmeg (go between the legs) of Boston’s Kelly Olynyk.

Aside this one defender, Crawford is just too much for everyone involved. Watching NBA guys destroy lesser talent is one of the joys of summer.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)

Quote of the day: Joey Crawford once gave a technical foul so hard he broke a finger

Joey Crawford

“One night, I hit Bill Fitch with a technical so hard, I broke my finger. My finger was all swollen. I slammed my whole hand down on it when I gave the signal. That’s why I changed my signal to a little one-finger tap — because I broke it once the old way.”

—Joey Crawford, veteran NBA referee, reminiscing about his career in a fantastic New York Times article.

There are 30 NBA fan bases convinced Joey Crawford has it in for their team. He is distinctive, he has a big personality, and he is fearless — if your team is on the road, you should be happy to see Crawford. No referee is less influenced by fans and more likely to make a tough call against the home team than Crawford.

Go read the New York Times story, it’s filled with a lot of insight into Crawford — who I have always found to be affable and with a great sense of humor off the court — and it’s filled with great stories.

“Moses Malone was one of the funniest. We were in Denver, I think he was playing with Philly at the time, and that day, a reporter had done a top-10 referee list and my name was in there. So my first call of the night is like a loose-ball foul on Moses, and Moses just turns and says, “That is not a top-10 call.” I had to laugh.”