Kurt Helin

Report: Sixers unlikely to make trade at deadline

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The Philadelphia 76ers are not good, but a couple of moves have made them respectable — they are 4-8 since Ish Smith was brought in as the starting point guard, and those losses include forcing the Knicks to double overtime on Monday.

The Sixers don’t want to get much better this season — they still have their own draft pick and would love to have the best lottery odds to land Ben Simmons in June. But they don’t want to get worse, either. Which is why you probably shouldn’t expect them to make any trades in the run-up to the trade deadline in February, something reported by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The 76ers will listen to trade offers, but chances are they won’t make any moves by the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

“We will continue to look for opportunities if there are things that we can do to add players for now and the future,” general manager Sam Hinkie said Monday. “We will look, but I’m not sure it will happen.”

The past couple trade deadlines GM Sam Hinkie sent talent out. Two seasons ago it was Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes shipped out at the deadline, last season it was Michael Carter-Williams (which was a smart move, he has struggled and the Sixers got the Lakers top-three protected pick this draft or next, a great asset).

Bringing in Jerry Colangelo was never going to change the core of the plan long-term in Philly — they have quality young players such as Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, but they need to add a lot more. Even without any moves they likely have three first round picks this season, four if the Lakers’ pick falls to fourth or worse. They have Dario Saric coming over in the next few years and — knocking on wood — Joel Embiid. Nail the draft and they can have something special.

They are not going to mess with that at the deadline unless someone blows them away with an offer.

John Wall’s agent change about empowering his friends, speaks to changes in agent landscape

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John Wall‘s decision to change agents — he recently left Relativity Sports, where he had been for five seasons, and soon will join Rich Paul’s agency — speaks to the landscape for agents.

It’s not simply a question of an agent getting guys the largest contracts anymore — Wall is in the middle of a max deal and will likely get another one after this. It’s about marketing opportunities, it’s about shoe deals, and it’s about the players’ friends having real power. It’s the model LeBron James set up (Rich Paul is his agent) and Wall told David Aldridge of NBA.com that “his team” of friends was at the heart of his decision to move on.

“Just a decision that I made, just thinking about it with my team,” Wall said earlier in the week. “The people I was with have been a great partnership the five years I was with them. They did a lot of positive things for me. It was just a situation where I felt me and my team wanted to go in different ways with how I wanted to build my team.”

Wall wants what LeBron James — and, a generation before both of them, Gary Payton — achieved: representation that will empower those closest to him in meaningful positions…

“That’s the way,” Wall said Saturday night, without naming any names. “That’s what I want to do.”

Wall will soon make his best friend, Ty Williams — “my brother,” Wall says — his manager.

Wall denied that him being a shoe contract free agent right now factored into that decision. I’d take that with a grain of salt. Wall’s negotiations with Adidas are reportedly going slowly; I find it hard to believe that didn’t play a factor, especially considering Paul’s connections with Nike. But it was not the only motivation.

Players switch agents all the time. Most players will have multiple agents over the course of their careers. It’s part of the game. And recently, with the powerful Arn Tellem leaving the Wasserman Media Group to become an executive with the Pistons, there has been a bigger shakeup than normal. It feels like half the league is on the move.

But what is being asked of agents is shifting, to a degree. Keeping a players’ posse happy was always part of the job, but now more and more players want their friends to have some real power. They trust those guys, and they want to help out their friends. An agent needs to find a way to make that happen, and put together an excellent marketing platform for the player as well.

And even then, the agent is going to get dumped at some point. It’s the game.

Title-winning Bulls assistant Johnny Bach dies at age 91

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CHICAGO — Johnny Bach, whose defensive expertise as an assistant coach helped the Chicago Bulls win three NBA titles from 1991 to 1993, has died. He was 91.

The Bulls confirmed the death Monday.

Bach was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 1983-86 before joining the Bulls as an assistant. He also worked as an assistant for Charlotte, Detroit and Washington. He returned to the Bulls in 2003 and retired in 2006 after more than a half-century in coaching.

Bach was the coach at Fordham from 1950-68 and at Penn State from 1968-77.

John Paxson, Chicago’s executive vice president of basketball operations, says Bach was “a true treasure in the world of basketball.”

Watch J.J. Redick drop nine threes on Houston in Clippers win (VIDEO)

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This stat says it all:

J.J. Redick has taken 206 threes this season, hit 103 of them — 50 percent. From three. When every team has near the top of their scouting report to chase him off the arc. Needless to say, he leads the NBA in three-point percentage.

Redick dropped nine threes on the Rockets Monday night — and the Clippers needed all of his 40 points to beat the Rockets in overtime. With the win the Clippers are 10-1 without Blake Griffin, I guarantee you if Redick were out 11 games the Clippers’ record would not be as good. They need him.

By the way, Dwight Howard had 36 points and 26 boards in a losing effort. He was a beast.

Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Cleveland has work to do before June

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Monday night saw one of the games that NBA fans had circled on their calendar as must see — Golden State returning to the champagne-soaked locker room in Cleveland. But that ended up being about the least interesting or entertaining game of the day. Here’s what you need to know from a Martin Luther King Jr. Monday around the NBA.

1) Golden State thrashed Cleveland, shows Cavaliers where the bar is set. The Cavs have work to do.
Games in January do not tell us who would win a seven-game series between those two teams in June. Games in the middle of the season are simply benchmarks. Tests if you will. They show a team where they stand, what needs to be worked on for the next six months to be ready for the games that matter.

The Cavaliers have a lot of work to do. Beating up on the East does not have them ready for the true contenders out of the West.

Last week, Cleveland played the San Antonio Spurs close, but down the stretch of that game the Cavaliers struggled with their execution while the Spurs did what they always do. Monday night, the Golden State Warriors returned to Quicken Loans Arena and gave the Cavaliers a beat down. A spanking. A thrashing. Golden State took Cleveland to the woodshed. I could go on, but the point has been made. Golden State started the game on a 12-2 run, led by 30 in the second quarter, 40 in the third, and coasted to a 132-98 statement win. Stephen Curry led the way with 35 points. Cleveland sees where the bar is set, and they have to get a lot better to clear it. LeBron’s goal is to bring a title to Northeast Ohio and right now there is no evidence to support the idea that his team could beat the Spurs or especially the Warriors in a seven-game series.

Here are three quick takeaways from the game of the night.

• Cleveland’s defense, particularly it’s pick-and-roll defense, needs to get a lot better. No doubt the Warriors were hitting their shots on Monday evening — they shot 51.8 percent on contested shots as a team, Curry was 6-of-9 on contested looks, according to NBA.com — but they were getting the shots they wanted. Cleveland couldn’t slow the pick-and-roll at all — they even blitzed it with three guys at one point. Whatever big man from Cleveland was pulled into the pick-and-roll, they got abused — Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, and especially Kevin Love. This sequence may best sum up just how Love’s defensive night went.

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Love only got five shots in the game as well. If these teams meet in the Finals again, it’s fair to wonder how many minutes David Blatt can afford to play Love a night.

• The Cavaliers need a lot more out of Kyrie Irving.
Hopefully, this game ends the “if Irving and Love had been healthy it would have been a different Finals” discussion. That talk was always moot anyway. Irving was 3-of-11 overall on the night and 0-of-3 in the paint — he wasn’t breaking down the Warriors defense, and when he got in the lane he didn’t finish. I’m not sure that the Cavaliers can count on more out of Love come the NBA Finals (he will get exposed on defense by whichever team comes out of the West), but they have to get more out of Irving to compete with the elite.

• Stephen Curry sure looked like the best player in the world.
Curry isn’t as good a defender as LeBron James, he can’t do everything LeBron can do on the court, and no doubt LeBron is more gifted. But for my money, the question is simply “Who impacts the game the most?” Right now, that’s Curry.

The Cavaliers need to find someone to slow Curry or, at least, make him work for his points, and that man is not Matthew Dellavedova. Cleveland had no answer for Draymond Green, either. If the Cavs don’t tighten up their defense and find answers for Green and Curry, the 2016 Finals may not last six games.

2) The Knicks need ‘Melo three, double overtime to beat Sixers in a game that was more entertaining than it should have been. For a while it looked like New York would be coasting to another win, up 18 in the third. But you can say this about the Sixers: However flawed, they play hard. The Knicks, on the other hand, with their comfortable lead reverted to the sloppy, lazy version of themselves that gets in trouble. The result was the Sixers stormed back, and New York needed a Carmelo three just to get to overtime.

It looked like the Knicks would win with just five extra minutes of work, but Robert Covington had other ideas, called bank on a three (not really) and forced a second OT. With Kristaps Porzingis sidelined with a sore foot (suffered in the fourth quarter, but not serious), the Knicks battled, got some strong play from Langston Galloway and Arron Afflalo when they needed it, and got the win. Barely. It was dramatic and entertaining, if not a game where the tape should be sent to the Hall of Fame. For the Knicks, it’s a win they need if they still harbor playoff dreams.

3) Kemba Walker goes off for 52 in Hornets’ double overtime win. It’s dangerous to attack the rim against Utah when Rudy Gobert is patrolling the paint, and that’s why only eight of Kemba Walker’s 34 shots came within eight feet of the rim Monday (and he only hit three of those). But his jumper was falling, and that is how he scored 52 and led the Hornets to a double-overtime win at home against Utah.

4) Even the Simpsons got in a dig at the Sixers this week. Sunday night in a new Simpsons episode from season 2,496 (or whatever they are up to), the Harvard-trained Simpsons writers got a dig at the struggles of the Philadelphia 76ers. Well played… except for the fact the Sixers have been better of late. They are 4-8 since bringing Ish Smith in to give them a respectable point guard, and Monday they even pushed the Knicks to double overtime before falling. Still, this is pretty funny.

5) J.J. Redick scores 40, drains nine threes to lead Clippers past Houston in overtime. The Clippers were up 15 with a little more than four minutes to go in this one, but the Rockets stormed back to force an extra five minutes of basketball. That was just more time for Redick to show off. The hot shooting guard had a career-high 40 points and hit nine threes on the night, including a couple in overtime that the Clippers needed to seal the win. As a team, the Clippers drained 22 threes, a team record and just one off the NBA record.