<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

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Mason Plumlee runs into courtside waitress, spills a whole lot of beer (VIDEO)

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The way the Nets were shooting Saturday at the Verizon Center, this was about the only thing they knocked down.

Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee hustled after a loose ball and ran into a courtside waitress spilling a full tray of beers — there were six beers plus what appeared to be a vodka drink on that tray, at Verizon Center prices that’s at least $60 worth. Maybe more as the courtside guys likely aren’t downing domestic. It landed all over the floor and a couple fans, and took a couple minutes, five guys and a lot of towels to clean up.

Fortunately nobody was hurt, although somebody smelled of beer on the drive home.

This was about the only interesting thing anyone on the Nets did during a 124-77 loss.

Reports: Concern from DeMarcus Cousins’ camp has stalled George Karl to Kings talks

Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings
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It is common in the NBA for a team to at least consult their franchise player when looking to make a big move, for example a coaching change.

The Kings did not do that with DeMarcus Cousins when they surprisingly fired coach Mike Malone mid-season. Sacramento has gone 6-19 since that move, and DeMarcus Cousins has shown flashes of regression to some of his old, bad habits.

This time the Kings did reach out to Cousins about the potential hiring of George Karl as the new head coach — talks that were making progress — but concerns from Cousins may have stopped that momentum. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Former Kings beat writer and now USA Today scribe Sam Amick is well connected in Sacramento and adds to the report:

That last point by Amick is important. Cousins is a more traditional center and while he’s a beast when he gets out and runs he may be concerned that his role would be diminished in a George Karl offense. Karl’s offense is more point guard centric and he likes bigs who can space the floor a little. Cousins can certainly work in and even star in that kind of offense, but it’s not necessarily built around him.

The question is: What kind of team does Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé want to build? He was starting to build a structured, defense-frist one under Malone and fired him because he wanted to go more up tempo. If that’s the case, Karl is a good fit.

The Kings need to pick one rebuilding plan, stick with it and get the players to fit it. The worst franchises are the ones that never let a system take root and change it every couple years.

Gordon Hayward drives, throws down on Miles Plumlee (VIDEO)

Gordon Hayward
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As Charles Barkley likes to point out, sometimes a “dunk by” gets credited as a “dunk on” a player.

Not here. Gordon Hayward dunks on Miles Plumlee. There is no question.

Hayward drives from the right wing and Plumlee recognizes it a second too late, is inside the restricted area, does a good job of just being vertical, but that’s not enough to stop this dunk.

Hayward finished with 24 points. Phoenix went on to win the game 100-93 behind 34 points from Marcus Morris. It was a key win for Phoenix, who stay one game ahead of New Orleans and three over Oklahoma City for the eighth playoff spot in the West.

Hawks interested in Ray Allen, have had conversations with his representative

Ray Allen
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Ray Allen is expected to make a decision after the All-Star break — is he going to return to the NBA this season? And if so, where?

He has to decide whether to give up the 70-degree weather and year-round golf to go chase an NBA ring in Cleveland with his friend LeBron James. And if not with the front-runner Cavaliers there is interest from the Clippers, Warriors, Spurs, Bulls, Wizards, Grizzlies…

And Hawks.

Atlanta, the team with the best record in the NBA, the team that just knocked off the Warriors, have reached out to Allen and his representatives, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Hawks have had discussions with representatives for free agent Ray Allen but nothing is imminent, according to a person familiar with the discussions….

The Hawks may be reluctant to disrupt the chemistry of a team that holds the best record in the NBA. However, the team lost guard/forward Thabo Sefolosha for six to eight weeks with a right calf strain.

I don’t believe adding the hard-working veteran Ray Allen is going to disrupt chemistry. And to have his shooting in the mix with Kyle Korver and the rest of that hot-shooting roster would certainly make the Hawks more dangerous

The question, wherever he lands, would what role does he ask for to make a comeback? Does he want to be a starter? How many minutes a night does he want? That said, you can be sure Allen is in shape and will be ready to go upon his return.

That said, don’t be shocked if retirement and golf win out.

EPL’s Sunderland manager using basketball to improve team’s soccer skills

Balls from most popular games
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We’ve seen Hall of Fame level NBA players — Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker and others — claim playing soccer in their youth helped them develop their basketball games. Soccer requires an understanding of spacing, angles and moving without the ball into space, skills that translate beautifully to the basketball court.

So why can’t basketball help soccer players?

Enter Gus Poyet, the manager of Sunderland in the Barclays English Premiere League. He’s a big believer that hoops can help on the pitch and explained that to the Guardian (hat tip to Joseph Prince-Wright of NBC’s ProSoccerTalk).

“Basketball can help in football, especially with marking,” said Poyet, whose late father, Washington, was one of Uruguay’s biggest basketball stars. “The way you turn is similar in both sports. The problem is basketball is not very popular in England – but I’m going to make it popular.”

Poyet’s conviction deepened on Wednesday. “I watched our youth cup game against Newcastle and watching the way the kids marked and moved I thought every player should be playing a bit of basketball. I’ve been talking a lot about basketball since then – and I’ve got a hoop put up at the training ground,

“If you play basketball certain movements become natural. There was a full-back in our game last weekend, somebody was running at him and he was turning, looking at the goal – you cannot mark like that. You mark facing the player and the ball and that’s the same in basketball. You never see a player in basketball running towards his own basket to mark without looking over his shoulder. These little things help you because you have to mark in a certain way.”

Because of the smaller space in basketball you just can’t afford to lose track of your man in the way that often happens on the larger soccer pitch. It’s an interesting point.

Sunderland is a team from the north of England (one best known in my house as the lapdogs of Newcastle, but as a Magpies fan I may be a bit biased there). Considering the weather there this time of year I hope Poyet set up an indoor hoop, not an outdoor one. We’ll see how much that basket helps.

Sunderland is solidly midtable right now but could use a couple more wins just to stay clear of the danger of relegation. The team had been home to American striker Jozy Altidore until recently, when he bolted for Toronto FC of the MLS (which is owned by the same organization that owns the Raptors).