Kurt Helin

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Good news: Ben Simmons is out of walking boot. Still going to be a while before he plays.

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It’s not just Sixers fans, we all want to see what Philadelphia looks like with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the floor together. Nobody wants to see that more than Brett Brown.

The good news along those lines: Simmons is out of the walking boot he’s had since foot surgery following a fracture before the season.

The bad/expected news: It’s going to be a long time still before he takes the court.

From Jessica Cammerato of CSNPhilly.com.

Ben Simmons made another step toward his return — in sneakers. The first overall pick took free throws for the first time without a boot on Tuesday…

“He walked out on the court in sneakers and he shot free throws,” Brett Brown said after practice. “That is significant to me. Then he walked over to my office and sat down looking like he was healthy. There was no boot, there was nothing earlier that he was wheeling.”

Simmons is still just standing and shooting, that’s a long way from playing in an NBA game, but it’s progress. Brown was also cautious, saying the Sixers are not going to rush his return. Simmons has said he wants to play this season at some point.

Brown intends to use the 6’10” Simmons as a point guard who will have the ball in his hands often and handle a lot of the shot creation. At Summer League in Las Vegas, he showed the kind of passing gifts that few players possess, the kind that can’t be taught. Simmons and Brown have spent a lot of “classroom time” in the film room, but learning to be a playmaker in an NBA game is something that has to be learned by doing ultimately.

Hopefully, Simmons can start that process later this season.

Report: Kings’ Rudy Gay likely to be traded before deadline; Thunder, Rockets interested

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That Sacramento’s Rudy Gay could well get moved before the trade deadline is no secret. The Kings’ front office has held out hope their squad can get back in the playoff mix in the West, and the team is currently the nine seed, 2.5 games back of Portland. Without Gay, the Kings’ second-leading scorer, they are not catching anyone. However, Gay has expressed a desire to leave, and if they don’t trade him before the deadline they will lose him this summer for nothing. The idea the Kings will change his mind is fantasy. As the trade deadline nears in February, the Kings will have to make a call.

Around the league, other teams expect Gay to be moved. In his latest podcast at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, Adrian Wojnarowski broke it all down (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“The one player who is going to have to move between now and the trade deadline is Rudy Gay. I don’t think the Kings can make the same mistake New Orleans made last year with Ryan Anderson. Ryan Anderson was pretty clear he was not going to re-sign there and they lost him for nothing. Especially for a team so devoid of assets, they couldn’t let him walk for nothing.

There’s no question Oklahoma City. Indiana has had interest in him. Houston has had some peripheral interest. I don’t think they have the pieces to trade.”

Oklahoma City needs more scoring, and while Gay does that in an old-school way — heavy on isolation and midrange shots (although he’s hitting 34,9 percent from three this year) — he can get them buckets. It’s easy to see where that would fit with the Rockets, as well, and he’d make a good reserve in Indiana. The question becomes what goes back to the California capital? The Kings previously had interest in Cameron Payne, but that may have faded with his latest injury.

The Kings should be active on the trade market between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Omri Casspi has been made available, and other GMs think a change of scenery is what the stretch four needs. Also, Kosta Koufos and maybe Willie Cauley-Stein are available at the right price. I know none of those are the guys most fans want to pry out of Sacramento, but right now DeMarcus Cousins is not available — and he doesn’t expect to be traded.

 

Magic purchase NBA D-League team, relocates it to Florida

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)  —The Orlando Magic have purchased the NBA Developmental League’s Erie BayHawks and will relocate the team from Pennsylvania to Lakeland, Florida, beginning with the 2017-18 season.

The Magic and the NBA D-League announced the move Wednesday morning in Lakeland. With the purchase and relocation of the team, the Magic becomes the 17th NBA team to own and operate a NBA D-League franchise.

By moving the team 55 miles from downtown Orlando, the Magic will have greater flexibility in getting some of their younger players meaningful playing experience. Rookie center Stephen Zimmerman has spent limited time with the Erie BayHawks this season.

The NBA D-League team will play its 24 home games at The Lake Center and a future practice facility is being planned in Winter Haven, Florida.

David Fizdale, do you see a future in coaching for LeBron James? “No.”

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LeBron James isn’t shy about his off-the-court goals — he wants to build his brand and his business empire, and eventually be a billionaire. He already runs with Warren Buffett (in the “having lunch” sense, the Oracle of Omaha doesn’t actually throw on a pair of LeBron 10 lows and get on the court). The grind of NBA coaching is not in his plans.

Which Grizzlies coach David Fizdale says is the right move.

Fizdale, who was the lead assistant coach during LeBron’s time winning rings in Miami, was asked by Dave McMenamin of ESPN if LeBron has a future as an NBA coach.

Although Fizdale considers James “a one-percentile guy when it comes to basketball intelligence,” he doesn’t anticipate the three-time champion following his career path and one day manning an NBA sideline with whiteboard in hand.

“No,” Fizdale said when asked about a potential future in coaching for James. “He would kill somebody. Perfection is like [his standard]. He wants perfection. I could see him actually owning his own team and doing something like that, but I think [as a coach], he would end up killing a player at some point because they wouldn’t live up to the expectations that he would set forth.”

James isn’t alone here. Great players rarely make great coaches (something true in all sports), and with the money players are making today they don’t need that time-consuming a second career if they don’t want it. Kobe Bryant scoffed at the idea of coaching when asked during his final season. On the NBA’s GM survey Chris Paul is consistently mentioned as the player who would make the best coach, but try to ask him about it and he says “no” before you can finish the question.

This phenomenon isn’t new. Jerry West is a Hall of Fame NBA player — he’s the damn Logo — and one of the greatest front office/GM/talent evaluators the league has ever seen. He was frustrated coaching. While his three Laker teams had a winning percentage of .589 and once reached the Western Conference Finals, West was frustrated. He — just like LeBron, Kobe, CP3 — is a perfectionist with impossibly high standards and coaching guys who just didn’t have the physical and mental abilities to live up to those standards drove him to distraction.

LeBron is never going to be an NBA coach.

But owner? I can see that happening.

Russell Westbrook kicked the ball out Damian Lillard’s hands, which started argument

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Russell Westbrook can be feisty. And get under the skin of opposing players.

He was a little frustrated as his team was well behind Portland in what would eventually be a Blazers comfortable win, and in the middle of the second quarter he kicked the ball out of Damian Lillard‘s hands.

Terry Stotts had just called a timeout, so the play was dead, meaning no foul or delay of game was called, but Lillard took exception, and the two men had words. The referees escorted the teams to their benches for the timeout, and everyone moved on.

Note to Westbrook, you need to make those soccer passes with the inside of your foot. You just can’t be consistently accurate kicking with the toe.