Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

Nuggets’ Jusuf Nurkic will be ready near start of season. Or soon after.

1 Comment

Jusuf Nurkic was thrust into the starting center role for the Nuggets last season when they traded Timofey Mozgov to the Cavaliers — and he showed a lot of promise.

He’s a rookie, he was raw, and his per-game numbers were as well, but his per-minute numbers showed real promise — 15.3 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per-36 minutes. He showed some real defensive aptitude — the Nuggets were 10.6 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor. This is a guy who could develop into a quality NBA center.

But the Nuggets may not have him at 100 percent to start the season. From the Denver Post.

One Nuggets player missing out on (EuroBasket) is center Jusuf Nurkic. The big man was set to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but knee surgery in late spring put an end to that. Nurkic has been rehabbing the knee in Denver with hopes of being ready when the season starts or soon thereafter.

Nurkic has work to do this coming season. He needs to reduce his foul rate, he seemed to struggle with the speed of the game at times. He needs to become more efficient when he does shoot, because beyond three feet he doesn’t hit 40 percent of his shots.

But there is promise, which is why if he’s not 100 percent they need to be patient. It’s about the long term, not winning games in November.

Report: Kendall Marshall near deal with Sixers

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers
11 Comments

The Sixers could use a point guard who can effectively get the ball into the post for guys like Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. They have a few PGs on the roster — Tony Wroten, Isaiah Canaan, Pierre Jackson, Scottie Wilbekin, T.J. McConnell — but none are particularly thrilling.

Enter Kendall Marshall.

He’s not thrilling either — particularly his shooting or the fact he’s coming off an ACL surgery — but Philadelphia sees him as a better option and is  about to sign him to a deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent guard Kendall Marshall is finalizing a multiyear contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

Marshall has been rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Chapel Hill, N.C., over the past few months and worked out this past week for the 76ers in Philadelphia. Marshall is expected to return sometime in the first half of the upcoming season, league sources said.

The Sixers are still in the tanking/rebuilding/however-they-wish-to-define-it mode and so being patient to get a known quantity point guard until the second half of the season is not an issue.

Marshall is just 24 and could develop into a reliable point guard — he can dish the rock but has question marks just about everywhere elseAt least he can be a respectable trade chip for the Sixers, so the deal makes sense for them. Just don’t expect more wins because of it.

Jrue Holiday will be back for Pelicans’ training camp. With minutes restrictions.

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans
1 Comment

Jrue Holiday has missed 90 games the past two seasons due to injury, including replacing a screw already in his lower leg from a previous surgery. If New Orleans is going to take a step forward this season, it has to include Holiday staying healthy. Remember, the Sixers had to pay a $3 million penalty for not disclosing Holiday’s injuries pre-trade, his injuries have been a real issue.

But he’s going to be ready for the start of training camp. Sort of. He’ll be there, but the wisely cautious Pelicans are going to take it slow, something coach Alvin Gentry admitted to the Times-Picayune.

But Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said on Friday that Holiday is likely going to be under restrictions involving practicing just once a day when two-a-day practices are scheduled during camp, which is set to open on Sept. 29 at The Greenbrier in West Virginia…

Holiday has not experienced any setbacks in his rehab this summer, but the Pelicans intend to monitor him cautiously that could include minute restrictions for both preseason and early regular season games.

This is the prudent course of action. The Pelicans need to win games early — they are not the Warriors, they can’t coast for a couple of months — but the goal is to be healthy late in the season and heading into the playoffs. This gets them on the right path.

There is another injury for the Pelicans where the news is not as good: Quincy Pondexter. He may not be ready to go until November, missing camp and the start of the season.

”Just one of those things that’s just takes time, he’s going to be OK,” Gentry said during a refurbished basketball court dedication ceremony on Friday involving the Pelicans and Chevron at Rev. Peter Atkins Park in Covington.

 

Warriors unveil practice facility championship banner (with names of every player)

warriors banner
1 Comment

On Oct. 27 the Golden State Warriors will unveil a championship banner at Oracle Arena to the deafening roar of Warriors fans that waited 40 years — through some terrible ownership — to see another one of those. All while Anthony Davis glares.

But that’s not the first banner to go up.

The Warriors’ practice facility in Oakland is ringed with banners representing the great players in Warriors history, major milestones of the franchise, and a 1975 championship banner. Now that banner has a twin — the practice facility banner went up Friday.

And it had the name of every player on last year’s Warriors’ team.

You have to be happy for the fan base — they have remained loyal through two decades of ownership that would have been the worst in the NBA had Donald Sterling not set that bar so very low. You have to be happy for Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and the players. It’s just a feel-good story, unless you’re a Cavs fan (and don’t worry, your turn is coming).

Kareem Rush on Lakers during Shaq/Kobe feud: “We had a big man alliance and a guard alliance”

Kobe Shaquille O'Neal Lakers
14 Comments

By the start of the 2003-04 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were title contenders breaking apart at the seams from the weight of the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant feud. This isn’t new news, both Gary Payton and Karl Malone have talked about it before.

How bad was it? How about “camp Kobe” and “camp Shaq” bad.

Kareem Rush spent his first two NBA seasons in the middle of the Lakers war, for the final two seasons of the Kobe/Shaq era, and he talked about it on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Tom Byrne & Rick Mahorn (you can listen to the interview below).

“Yeah, it was like a real issue. We actually had like a separation of the team. We had a big man alliance and a guard alliance. I had to pick Kobe’s side.”

How deep was that split? For a while Shaq would not let long-time Laker trainer Gary Vitti (who had been with the team since the Showtime era, and is just now entering his final year) tape him up before games because he was allegedly a Kobe guy.

Now for the “what ifs.” As Shaq has said, could the Lakers have won three more titles if that group stayed together?

“Shaq got three Finals MVPs and I think Kobe wanted his, so it didn’t work out for us. We definitely had talent to win more than three titles.”

Of course, now everything is good between Shaq and Kobe, with both regretting their hard-headed youth. But talking about that era is a fun August diversion.

What I still wonder: Despite all the dysfunction, if Malone had been healthy for the 2004 Finals would the Lakers have won the title anyway?