Kurt Helin

Josh Smith

Reports: Josh Smith to sign with Los Angeles Clippers

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Depth along the front line was a serious issue for the Clippers last season. There was Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, then… Spencer Hawes.

Now the Clippers are going to have a couple very nice reserves, they are expected to bring back Ekpe Udoh.

Now come reports that the Clippers have landed Josh Smith. Michael Scotto of Sheridanhoops.com had it first, others have since confirmed.

The Clippers could only sign him for the league minimum (all they had left) but Smith was good with it since the Pistons still will pay him $5.4 million as part of their waiving and stretch of his contract. (What the Clippers will pay him will be offset from the money Detroit owes him.)

At that price, Smith is a steal.

Smith has his flaws, starting with his love of the three ball — he’s a career 28 percent shooter from three who last season knocked down a barely passable 33 percent with Houston. But coming off the bench, Smith is a massive upgrade for the Clippers — he provides physicality and defense, plus he can still get points and rebounds and defend at a quality level. He brings some legit depth and versatility to the Clippers front line, plus he has stepped up in the playoffs.

Doc Rivers the GM has really helped out Doc Rivers the coach this summer. The formerly anemic Clipper bench will now have Jamal Crawford, Lance Stephenson, Udoh (probably) and Smith (plus guys like Austin Rivers that will get some run).

When you talk serious NBA title contenders next season, do not leave the Clippers off the list.

Report: Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell to work out with Steve Nash this summer

Steve Nash
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LAS VEGAS — I can envision Steve Nash becoming the point guard guru in the way Hakeem Olajuwon is with big men — eventually everyone who wants to be great at the position travels to the mountain top (or, Houston) to learn from the master.

Nash was as smart a point guard and as dedicated a person as there was at conditioning and taking care of his body. Steve Nash wrung as much great basketball out of what nature gave him as anyone in the league. It makes sense that other point guards might want to work with and learn from him.

Starting with young Lakers’ stars Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Russell has struggled some with both the speed of the game and trying to force the issue at Summer League. He understandably feels the pressure on him and admitted he has been attempting to do too much.

“I’m just trying to force the issue to get big guys involved, and for myself forcing the issue on the offensive end trying to just get something out of nothing when it’s not there,” Russell said. “Realizing it’s Summer League and being patient is my problem right now… Summer League is great for the adjustment process. I’m young, I feel like I’m going to get better every game, every practice, once I get under the system and get the hang of it a little more.”

Russell had the same issue at Ohio State — it took him a few weeks in the Big 10 to adjust to the game style and pace, but when he did he put up the kind of numbers that made him the No. 2 pick. Lakers fans are counting on that kind of adjustment again.

Nash could help with that process. A lot of guys should want to come workout with Nash.

Kings void Luc Richard Mbah Moute contract after he fails physical

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers
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This was unexpected — the Sacramento Kings have voided their one-year contract with forward Luc Mbah Moute after he failed a physical.

This was going to be just a one-year, veteran minimum deal. The Kings are deep at the three — Rudy Gay, Caron Butler and Omri Casspi — but Mbah a Moute likely would have played more at the four backing up Willie Cauley-Stein. Now the Kings need more depth behind the rookie, but with Casspi going into the room exception the Kings do not have much money to use, just minimum deals.

It’s not known right now why Mbah a Moute failed the physical, and if it is something that will prevent another team from signing him.

Mbah a Moute may have averaged 9.9 points a game last season in Philly, his career best numbers, although that was more due to the rest of the roster and it’s lack of other, better offensive options. He’s a career 6.8 points per game guy.

Jordan Hill on playing with Lakers: “All you hear is Kobe’s mouth”

SPO-BKN-NBA-PISTONS-LAKERS
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Jordan Hill spent the last three seasons with the Lakers, but now has signed with the Indiana Pacers (while Pacers center Roy Hibbert went to the Lakers). At his introductory press conference, Hill was asked about playing with Kobe Bryant in LA and this was part of his response:

“When he’s on the floor it’s like (exhales), all you hear is Kobe’s mouth. He’s on the floor all you hear is Kobe’s mouth, like during practice and games, it get loud. It get loud. A lot of people can’t handle that I guess.”

Hill didn’t sound like he meant this as an insult, so much as a commentary on the reality of being on the court for the Lakers. It didn’t seem to bother him.

Kobe is Kobe and he’s not changing. It’s worked for him to the tune of five rings, but it’s also not the only way to motivate and push teammates (see: Duncan, Tim). Not everybody wants to play with Kobe. The young Lakers looking to be the future of the team are going to have to deal with it, no matter what they think. Kobe is now their reality. And certainly there is a lot that can be learned from Kobe, both on the court and in terms of commitment and work ethic.

The Lakers are fully committed to the Kobe brand (it’s made them a lot of money over the years, plus helped them win banners) and this next season is likely going to be a celebration of all things Kobe in Los Angeles.

Blazers guard Allen Crabbe injures ankle, carried out of Summer League game on stretcher

Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers
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LAS VEGAS — This is not good.

Well, it could have been worse.

Allen Crabbe, who has played 66 games over the last two seasons in Portland and was playing well in Summer League, suffered an ankle sprain on Thursday while going up for a rebound. He yelled in pain as he went down,  but X-Rays turned out show no damage. An MRI is scheduled, but hopefully it is just a sprain.