Author: Kurt Helin

Mississippi State v Baylor

One time can’t miss prospect Renardo Sidney trying to make comeback, reach NBA

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There was a time when Renardo Sidney was ranked by recruiting services ahead of guys like DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Derrick Favors, Lance Stephenson, Eric Bledsoe, Kawhi Leonard and the rest of a class that has turned out to have a big impact on the NBA.

Now Sidney is the poster child for the can’t miss prospect that missed. He is the poster child for everything wrong with the AAU/American youth basketball system — he got too much, too early and never developed the work ethic needed to succeed in college, let alone in the NBA. He literally got fat and comfortable thinking he could coast into NBA stardom.

Sidney is honest now about his mistakes and opens up about that path in a fantastic interview and feature about him by Rob Dauster over at our sister blog CollegeBasketballTalk.

Sidney is also trying one more comeback, one more run at the NBA.

He’s still living on Prince Edward Island in Canada, training with a former teammate as he prepares for workouts that he hopes will lead to a spot in an NBA Summer League which, in turn, will land him a contract with a team in the NBA D-League.

At least that’s the plan.

Sidney says he is down to 290 pounds. His goal, according to his agent, Zachary Charles of 3pt Sports Management, is to get down to 275 pounds. Charles, who is at least the fourth agent that Sidney has had since leaving school, believes that this time it will be different. He believes that this is a new Renardo Sidney, that all he needs is an opportunity to prove it.

For the first time in his life, Charles says, there’s a plan of action, there’s a structure that Sidney is buying into.

“When it comes to work and dedication,” Charles said, “sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to understand what you had and what you lost.”

We’ve all heard that before. Everyone is understandably skeptical. This fall Sidney tried to play in the Canadian league and the story was familiar — the talent wasn’t the question but his conditioning was so poor he couldn’t stay on the court. The coaches tried almost hockey shifts with him — three minutes on, three minutes off — but it didn’t work and he was off the team after five games.

But talent gets you more chances than you may deserve, and if Sidney can get in shape you can be sure some D-League and maybe NBA teams would watch him work out.

For now, Sidney remains the ultimate cautionary tale.

Report: Suns’ twins Markieff, Marcus Morris tied to assault investigation

Phoenix Suns Media Day
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There have been no charges filed, no arrests made, nothing official at this point.

However, the Suns’ twins Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris have been linked assault investigation going on in Phoenix, reports CBS5 KPHO in Phoenix.

CBS 5 News has learned Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are part of a possible assault investigation being handled by Phoenix police.

Police confirm they are investigating an alleged assault that occurred around 7:30 p.m. Saturday outside a gym near 15th Avenue and Colter in central Phoenix.

Police are not releasing a lot of details, but that is standard when still investigating a crime. However, the reports stats police did say the Morris twins are being considered suspects in the crime.

The Suns did not comment to the news station, and both played Wednesday night in a key Suns victory over Washington at home. A win that pushed the Suns 3.5 games ahead of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Morris twins wanted to play together in the NBA and are very tight — although Markieff makes more money they share their paychecks.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Is this rock bottom for Oklahoma City?

Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook
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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while buying a case of beer where the box helps repel mosquitos

Have the Thunder reached rock bottom? Things are not right in Oklahoma City. The Knicks beat the Thunder Wednesday because the Knicks played harder and with more urgency. The Knicks beat the Thunder because they executed better — OKC had just 10 assists as a team in this game. If you’re OKC trying to fight back into the playoffs that just can’t happen. If your reaction is to say, “Kevin Durant was out and the Knicks have been playing better lately” you don’t grasp the urgency the Thunder need if they want to make the eight seed (which may be as high as they climb now). Russell Westbrook had the urgency and put up 40 points, but the rest of the Thunder players seemed to take a night off.

Understand where the Thunder are. Oklahoma City is a .500 team (23-23) that, after Phoenix’s win Wednesday, is now 3.5 games out of the playoffs (and on their way to Memphis on Saturday, so OKC could well be below .500 again). The Thunder will need to go 25-11 the rest of the way to get to 48 wins, which is going to be the bare minimum to get a West playoff seed. That number is doable — when Durant and Westbrook both play they are 14-7 this season, continue at that pace the rest of the way and the Thunder have 47 wins — but it means OKC needs to start winning now. If not, they will miss the playoffs. That is a real possibility now. And if that happens this game will not be rock bottom

Kyrie Irving has a video game mode. How else do you explain the double nickel — 55 points — he dropped on Portland Wednesday. He knocked down 11 three pointers including the game winner right in the face of Nicolas Batum. But it wasn’t just one end of the court, he was often guarding Damian Lillard and Irving held Blazers star guard to 4-of-19 shooting. The Cavaliers have an eight game winning streak and got this last one without LeBron James over a quality team. That is huge.

The Sixers, Knicks and Timberwolves win on the same day? Isn’t that one of the signs of the apocalypse? This is the ultimate sign it was just one of those nights — the NBA’s three worst teams all won on the same day. And deserved to. The Knicks simply executed better and played harder than OKC — the Knicks looked pretty good . Carmelo Anthony put up 31 points, while Tim Hardaway Jr. had 11 in the fourth. The Sixers raced out to a 24-4 lead over the reeling Pistons and never looked back. Even the lowly Timberwolves looked better once they got Kevin Martin back, he dropped 21 in his return and they topped a Celtics team that had played fairly well of late. It was just that kind of night.

Josh Smith can lead the Rockets. Adding to the above note about this just being a Twilight Zone night in the NBA — Josh Smith it 4-of-5 threes and had a couple big blocks late as Houston came from behind to beat Dallas. That’s a quality win without Dwight Howard in the lineup, and Smith was high scorer for Houston with 18. This is also one Dallas is going to kick themselves for — they were down three points with 16 seconds left when a foul drawn by Tyson Chandler was ruled a Flagrant 1 — Dallas got two free throws and the ball out of bounds. But Chandler missed both free throws then Dallas turned the ball over on the inbounds pass. Ballgame.

Maybe the Hawks cannot lose. Okay, they will lose someday (likely next week when the schedule gets tougher) but that day is not today. The Hawks won their 17th in a row taking down  struggling Brooklyn 113-102. We’d say Paul Millsap was making his case to be included on the All-Star Team but those votes are already in from the coaches — still his 28 points on nine shot attempts is ridiculous. Next up is Portland, which is a good test, but the Hawks have passed every test so far.

He’s on Fire! Kyrie Irving scores 55, knocks down game winning three (VIDEO)

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Kyrie Irving should have had the NBA Jam announcer calling this game — “BOOMSHAKALAKA!”

On a night LeBron James was out, Irving dropped 55 points on Portland, shooting 17-of-36, including going 11-of-19 from three. He also did a good job helping harass Portland’s Damian Lillard into a 4-of-19 shooting night. He dished out five assists.

But that play above is what you will see on the highlight shows — a three right in the face of Nicolas Batum that proved to be the game winner.

That is the Cavaliers’ eighth straight win.

J.R. Smith says he’s playing better in Cleveland because there’s less partying

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons
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J.R. Smith is putting up numbers with the Cavaliers — he’s averaging 14.2 points a game, taking the majority of his shots from beyond the arc and hitting 39.7 percent of them in his last 10 games. Smith is still far from efficient (shooting 39.9 percent with the Cavaliers) but he’s fitting in and playing a little better than he did in New York.

Why? Well, playing with LeBron James helps (he’s a superstar who is a more willing passer than the last superstar Smith played with). Plus guys like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love draw defenders to give him open looks from three, plus there is more depth in Cleveland.

Or, maybe it’s that he parties less because this is Cleveland and not Manhattan.

That’s basically what he told David Aldridge of NBA.com (hat tip to Deadspin).

“I think this is the best situation for me, ’cause there’s nothing but basketball. There’s nothing you expect but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball. So it’s a great thing, ’cause I go back to where I came from. When I grew up, I never, I wasn’t allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball. And then when I got in the situation where I was at an early age, it was more, alright, let me see what this life is about, as opposed to just keep going. So now, I get the chance to get back to my roots….

I always made myself better by staying in the gym. When you replace that with stuff off the court, then you’re taking away from what made you who you are, or what got you to a certain point. It was kind of pulling me down in a sense, of not getting enough rest, not doing things you’re supposed to be doing, things you’re used to doing. So when you start missing those shots you’re supposed to make, especially wide-open shots, it was like, alright, what’s going on, what’s going on? Instead of looking at what it is, you’re reverting to that even more, instead of going back to the basics. So I think that’s the greatest part about being here.”

NBA players are fully capable of getting in trouble in any market, and is Smith wants it there is trouble to be found in Cleveland. That said, Smith was a notoriously bad player on those Sunday afternoon games the Knicks often host at Madison Square Garden, and one may have to work a little harder to find the late night spots and trouble in Cleveland.

Or, maybe the jolt of reality going from the lowly Knicks to a Cavaliers team that is starting to resemble what was envisioned for it before the season — the team is on a seven-game winning streak and playing improved defense — could have him focusing on the game. That and the leadership of LeBron James, an old friend, could keep Smith in line.

We’ll let this one play out before saying any new leafs have been turned over, or any other such cliché. At this point in his career Smith is what Smith is, an unrepentant gunner, just one that the Cavs may be able to use to their advantage.