Kurt Helin

Steve Ballmer says not to expect NBA return to Seattle for a couple of years, at least

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Seattle still has great basketball fans. Just ask Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, and the other players who have come out of that area — the city loves hoops.

And it wants an NBA team again.

But that’s not going to happen for a few years, at least, according to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO who lived a large part of his life in Seattle (and was part of the group trying to buy the Kings and move them up there a few years back). Ballmer is in Seattle for the Geek Wire Sports Technology Summit and was asked by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times if an NBA team could be on its way to Seattle soon (hat tip Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie):

“It’s just not likely to happen,” Ballmer told those attending the conference. “There has been no discussion about expansion since I have been involved with the league. So, I don’t think that will happen. The league has really moved to favor teams staying in their current markets. You’d have to find a team that’s at the end of their (arena) lease, where it looks hard to build an arena and where they’ve tried really hard to build an arena.

“And you’d have to show that an arena can get built in Seattle,” he added. “Because unlike most other cities that build an arena before they have a team, I don’t think an arena is going to get built here before a team comes here unless it gets done in the context of hockey.”

A couple of years may be optimistic, Ballmer was likely just being nice. Even with the explosive growth in television revenue, there seems to be no appetite among the owners to divide that revenue pie up into thinner slices. Balmer is far from the only one to say this, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has echoed the point recently as well. Expansion remains off the table for now.

Seattle’s best hope for a while may have been the Milwaukee Bucks, but after threats of leaving the state government caved and pitched in $250 million, making the deal possible. The Bucks broke ground on their new arena downtown last month. Nothing imminent is on the horizon with teams that are likely to consider a move.

Sorry Seattle.

And don’t ask about Ballmer’s Clippers.

“The Clippers are not going anywhere — ever,” he said. “I will die owning the L.A. Clippers.”

Andre Drummond on free throws: “We’ve found something that works”

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Friday, Andre Drummond officially became a very rich man signing a five-year, $127 million max contract with the team.

Then at his press conference, the topic of free throws came up. Again. Drummond shot a career-low 35.5 percent on free throws.

That led to 88 times he was hacked last season, according to the numbers kept by the brilliant Kevin Pelton of ESPN. That is 88 times — 80 in the regular season, eight in the playoffs — he was intentionally fouled off the ball to force free throws; that number does not include times he was fouled shooting or in the run of normal play.

At one point in a January game, the Rockets hacked him six straight times to force a dozen consecutive free throws. While the NBA tried to put a band-aid on the issue, the reality is from the Pistons perspective he just needs to knock the free shots down. Not all, just get to 55-60 percent and the hacks go away.

Drummond and coach Stan Van Gundy sounded optimistic about his shot, via Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

I’m going to assume Drummond didn’t go Chinanu Onuaku and start shooting underhand, but maybe he’s found something that works for him. I’m going to sound like a Missourian on this one — show me. I need to see it to buy it.

Just know that he does work on it. During the off-season and in-season. This isn’t a matter of “he should just practice,” that’s a mindless complaint. For the record, DeAndre Jordan puts in the work, too – at every practice, before every game as part of his warmup routine at the arena, Jordan and a Clipper coach work on shots from the stripe. Jordan tries to get into a rhythm (and he hits a better percentage pregame, just based on my eyes). I know Drummond does the same.

We’ll see if Drummond has figured something out.

Report: Warriors asking $15 million minimum per year for ad on NBA jersey

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If the Philadephia reportedly got $5 million per year for ticket broker StubHub to put their logo on Sixers jerseys, how much could the rating darlings Golden State Warriors get?

How about $15 million to $20 million a season?

That’s the current asking price, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.

The Golden State Warriors are asking for $15 million to $20 million per year for the rights for a company to put its logo on their jersey starting in the 2017-18 season, sources told ESPN.

It is believed that the Warriors, who won the NBA title in 2015 but lost in the Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games this year, are asking for more money than any other team.

If you want to complain in the comments about ads on jerseys, go for it. Just know your argument is moot — they are coming. And will stay because there’s not going to be a fan backlash over a small patch on the shoulder. Did you even notice the KIA ones on the All-Star Game jerseys?

The Warriors should get what the market will pay (much like players getting what they can on contracts). Golden State is in the seventh largest media market in the NBA, they have had fantastic ratings and streaming numbers locally, they have two massive stars in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, they will certainly be on national television the maximum number of times, they will go deep into the playoffs, and as Mark Cuban said love them or hate them people will watch them.

The Warriors, along with tradition big market teams with huge fanbases (Lakers/Knicks), can get more than anyone else. The Sixers have struggled on the court, but they are the fifth largest market. Teams such as New Orleans, Memphis, and Oklahoma City are going to struggle to get much ad jersey revenue unless their team is dynamic and good.

A weakened US still team to beat in Olympic men’s basketball

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A weakened U.S. basketball team believes it’s still the strongest one in the Olympics.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and enough stars to fill an All-NBA team passed on playing, leaving the Americans with a roster that falls short against the Dream Team comparisons they always face.

But the U.S. doesn’t need to beat the Dream Team, or to be one. It just has to be the best in Brazil.

“I respect the guys that declined the opportunity, but I think we still have a great team here, a lot of talent,” center DeMarcus Cousins said. “We still have the same goal in mind, winning the gold medal.”

The Americans remain favored to do that, which would give them three in a row. Some things to watch as they try:

THE U.S. ROSTER

While they’re not the Dream Team, the U.S. squad in Rio is still an impressive group of players. The team includes: Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green; New York’s Carmelo Anthony; Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving; Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan; Indiana’s Paul George; Dallas’ Harrison Barnes; Chicago’s Jimmy Butler; Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.

THE FORMAT

Two six-team groups. Each team faces the others in its pool, and the top four teams in each advance to the quarterfinals.

Group A features the U.S., Serbia, France, China, Australia, and Venezuela.

Group B is Spain, Lithuania, Brazil, Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria.

WHICH GROUP IS TOUGHER?

Group A is more top-heavy, with the U.S., Serbia and France finishing 1-2-3 in the Basketball World Cup two years ago. But Group B appears to be deeper, with Spain (No. 2), Lithuania (3), Argentina (4), Brazil (9) and Croatia (12) all among the top dozen ranked teams in the world.

GRAB A SEAT, THIS WILL BE A WHILE

The Olympic basketball tournament runs nearly the entire length of the Games, making the first round of the NBA playoffs seem speedy. Competition begins Aug. 6, the day after the opening ceremony, and the medal games are Aug. 21, the day of the closing ceremony.

ROLLING INTO RIO

The U.S. has won 63 straight games, 45 in FIBA competitions and 18 in exhibition play.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Carmelo Anthony will become the first U.S. men’s player to appear in four Olympics, and become the most decorated men’s basketball Olympian ever if the U.S. wins a medal. He has a bronze from 2004 and golds in Beijing and London.

THIRD TIME THE CHARM?

Spain sure hopes this is the year it can break through, after pushing the U.S. deep into the final minutes of the last two gold-medal games. The Americans emerged with a 118-107 victory in 2008 and held on to win 107-100 in London. The Spanish bring back veterans such as Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro for a final shot.

GOODBYE, GOLDEN GENERATION

This certainly seems like the end for Argentina’s greats, who won gold in 2004, bronze in 2008 and narrowly missed another medal when they finished fourth in 2012. Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni are back, with Scola chosen as Argentina’s flag bearer.

BEST FIRST-ROUND DAY

Group B has some intriguing games on Aug. 13. Spain meets Lithuania in a rematch of the 2015 EuroBasket championship game, and Brazil and Argentina renew a fierce rivalry that’s seen one knock the other out of the last three major international tournaments. Argentina eliminated Brazil in the 2010 world championship and 2012 Olympics, while the Brazilians – coached by Ruben Magnano, who led Argentina to its 2004 gold – ended the Argentinians’ stay in the 2014 Basketball World Cup. Croatia and Nigeria meet in the nightcap.

MEN IN THE MIDDLE

Spain is keeping Marc Gasol on its roster for now and Australia is doing the same with Andrew Bogut, hoping their centers can return from injuries during the NBA season. France has added Utah’s Rudy Gobert to its Rio roster after his recovery from injuries kept him out of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament it won in early July.

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

Watch Warriors’ Patrick McCaw drop 28 on Raptors at Summer League

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Patrick McCaw has had a relatively big following all through the Las Vegas Summer League — he’s a UNVL star playing on his home turf. The locals have his back.

Not that he’s needed it — the 6’7″ shooting guard has turned a few heads in Vegas with his strong play. Through five games he has averaged 15.8 points per game and shot 38.2 percent from three, he has been able to create his own shot, plus his length (6’10” wingspan) shows real potential on defense. More than one observer — both with teams and the media — expressed to me they were impressed with his play. He’s still got some developing to do, but he could become a quality rotation wing.

His show included another big game, dropping 28 on the Raptors Thursday.

Just what Golden State needs, another quality guard who can shoot the rock.