Kurt Helin

Chris Paul leaves game with strained hamstring, now day-to-day

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Midway through the third quarter Thursday night against the Spurs, Chris Paul was chasing Tony Parker around a pick, when he pulled up and started to grab his hamstring.

CP3 instantly came out of the game, not to return. The Clippers went on to get the win 106-101, and after the game the questions were first about how long Chris Paul could be out. From Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

The Clippers host Dallas Friday night, it would be a surprise if Paul plays in that game. Next after that is the Christmas Day game against the Lakers.

The Clippers are already without Blake Griffin, out at least a month following knee surgery. The Clippers can hold their own without Griffin, running a lot of Paul/DeAndre Jordan pick-and-roll, but if CP3 is out any length of time (and hamstrings can be tricky) the team will stumble. Which could impact seedings down the line in a crowded Western Conference

Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel want to play together; Brett Brown says not yet

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Philadephia coach Brett Brown has said he plans to stick with the Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor front line a little longer, he wants to see how they fit together over a stretch of time. So far, they are a defensive disaster together — allowing 111.7 points per 100 possessions, 6.2 worse than the Sixers season defense — but Brown wants a longer look.

Meanwhile, Embiid and Noel want to play together and see what that looks like. Embiid lobbied for it the other day, speaking to Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I also want to get on the court and see what we can look like together because I like him and I want to play with everybody,” Embiid said after the Sixers’ 108-93 loss to the Pelicans. “I feel like if we’re trying something, I feel like we should try the other thing too. Hopefully in the future they do that.”

“I loved (the fan support Noel got entering the game). He’s my best friend on the team and I was really happy for him,” Embiid said, also noting, “I thought he should have played more.”

Thursday Noel made the same pitch, suggesting it would be a good defensive front line.

“I think it will be very interesting,” Noel said. “I think it will have some positives and we’ll work through the negatives. But I think defensively, we’ll be something to reckon with.”

The Sixers start a four-game road trip Thursday, and here is what Brown said about his front line rotation for now:

“We’re now at four games starting Jahlil and Joel, and my intention is we’ll see this road trip out and begin the new year and reassess,” Brown said. “I think with eight games as a body of work, we can judge it more accurately and feel what’s best for the team and the players. Ultimately, the whole program needs to be based on defense. Whatever that equals in relation to who’s on the floor is the direction I’m going to take the program.”

Noel wants to play, he’s also clearly been open to the idea of being moved from the Sixers’ crowded frontcourt. But to get moved, he needs to be showcased a little.

Brown can be patient, there are no expectations of racking up wins to reach the playoffs in Philly. Brown can take his time to see what the pairings look like. But the Noel and Embiid one can’t really be worse than the Okafor/Embiid one, can it?

Report: Goran Dragic open to a trade, Heat considering options

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The Miami Heat are trying to rebuild on the fly.

It was going to be a process without LeBron James, but then the blood clot issue that has sidelined Chris Bosh proved to be another significant setback that changed the franchise’s course. Now they have Hassan Whiteside as the franchise anchor with players such as Justise Winslow developing around him.

But what about Goran Dragic? He may be on the move, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Dragic is a dilemma. When Dragic forced a trade to Miami two years ago, he thought he was joining a team one piece away — him — from being a conference contender. Today he’s leading a roster that’s a couple of losses from falling below Philadelphia in the East basement. Dragic is open to a trade, league sources told The Vertical, and Miami has pursued that option. An early season swap with Sacramento for Rudy Gay fell apart when the Heat sought Darren Collison, sources said, and teams that have probed Miami about Dragic have found the Heat open to offers.

And why not? Dragic is 30, and if Miami is going to maximize its return on an All-Star-level point guard having another strong season, now is the time. He’s a depreciating asset, a bona fide star, to be sure, but one who doesn’t draw fans (the announced “sellout” of 16,700 on Tuesday was laughable; there were maybe 5,000 in the seats) and who will likely be in decline when Riley is able to remold the Heat into a contender. The value of the assets Dragic could fetch in a trade could exceed the immediate value he has to the organization.

There are certainly teams that could use a quality point guard, and Dragic is that. He is averaging 19.1 points and 6.7 assists a game, shooting 41.6 percent from three, and has a PER of 18.2 this season. He’s strong on the pick-and-roll and in transition, put in the right system he will put up points and lead a team.

The challenge is Dragic is owed $54,3 million over the three seasons after this one (the last year is a player option) — not a lot of teams are looking to take that on for a point guard who is cresting age 30. But you can be sure, Pat Riley is going to look around.

J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin fire back at George Karl

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George Karl has a new autobiography out, and he has apparently taken the concept that it takes a little dirt and mudslinging to sell a book to new heights.

He slammed Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin for their attitudes as “AAU babies” and blamed it on their fatherless upbringings. When asked to address it, Anthony avoided the question Thursday.

Kenyon Martin had no such qualms fired back on Twitter.

That was just a sampling of Martin’s rant, there’s more.

Karl also took this shot at J.R. Smith (all of whom Karl coached in Denver).

But Earl Smith Jr. urged his son to shoot the ball and keep shooting it from the very moment I put him in a game, which is obviously bad.

Smith tweeted this a quality one-liner in response.

Reggie Evans — also on those Nuggets teams — added this.

Former Nets’ executive Bobby Marks — now part of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports — chimed in with this.

Karl has had plenty of rocky relationships with players — remember DeMarcus Cousins“snake in the grass” tweet when Karl was going behind the rest of the organization’s back trying to push a trade. No coach should expect all his players to love him, but do you hear this kind of disrespect from players talking about other elite coaches?

PBT Podcast: Christmas Day game previews with Dan Feldman

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Christmas Day. It’s the unofficial start of the NBA season (at least for casual fans).

The NBA tries to line up its best and brightest (and biggest draws) for a day of games on ABC and ESPN. This season everyone wants to see the NBA Finals rematch/preview as Golden State visits Cleveland — now with Kevin Durant. It’s unquestionably the game of the day, the first meeting between these teams since the Cavaliers were celebrating a title in the Warriors’ building.

But there are other games of intrigue out there: Boston at New York to start the day should be competitive. Can Minnesota even slow down Russell Westbrook? How do the Clippers look without Blake Griffin?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down each game, plus talk Chinese food on Christmas.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.