Kurt Helin

Garnett, Wiggins, Towns, timberwolves

51 Questions: Who will be your League Pass must-watch team?

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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

What is your League Pass team? The team you consistently put on because you enjoy watching them play?

Everyone at PBT is a League Pass addict — we’re all watching a ridiculous amount of basketball, watching every team as it moves through the season. But there is always one team you’re drawn back to again and again, the one that may not be the best but you can’t stop watching them. Today we discuss the team we can’t take our eyes off of.

Kurt Helin: Minnesota Timberwolves

I’m going to see plenty of the entertaining powerhouse teams — Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Golden State (which is like Brazil in soccer, they are every fan’s second favorite team to watch). The teams I’m drawn to on LP are the ones with talented young players trying to figure out, and this year no team fits that bill like Minnesota. They have great pieces — Ricky Rubio at the point, Andrew Wiggins at the two, Karl-Anthony Towns (a surprisingly good passer) in the post, then there are the veterans such as Kevin Garnett and Andre Miller. Can’t leave off Zach LaVine, who is must-watch both for his dunks and cringe-worthy point guard decisions. They don’t know how to make it all work yet, but watching them figure it out is half the fun.

Dan Feldman: Cleveland Cavaliers

I was reluctant to pick a team with 25 national TV appearances, but Cleveland is so intriguing, I’m not sure I want to miss a game. LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were really starting to play beautiful basketball together before the latter two got hurt in the playoffs. The surrounding drama is even more intriguing. Will LeBron and David Blatt get along? Will LeBron and Love? Will Blatt use Love better? Will the Cavs’ big men play well enough that the team can avoid caving to Tristan Thompson? What will J.R. Smith do next? I don’t want to miss it.

Sean Highkin: Orlando Magic

Since the Dwight Howard trade three summers ago, the Magic’s rebuilding effort has been in a weird place: plenty of intriguing talent, but not great coaching and no clear identity. After three years in the lottery, they brought in Scott Skiles to win now, and if there’s one thing Skiles will do as a coach, it’s make a team better in the short term. This Magic roster is full of high-motor guys (Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon) who will respond well to his style. Plus, Mario Hezonja is already appointment television whenever he’s in the game.

Utah Jazz waive Bryce Cotton, Treveon Graham

Bryce Cotton, Quin Snyder
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have waived point guard Bryce Cotton and forward Traveon Graham. The team announced the moves Tuesday.

The roster is now down to 15 players.

Cotton first joined the Jazz on a 10-day contract in late February and signed a multi-year deal in March. He averaged 5.3 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 15 games last season.

The release of Cotton leaves the Jazz with just two pure point guards on the roster – Trey Burke and Raul Neto.

Graham was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of VCU and played with the Jazz during summer league.

Andre Iguodala bought Allen Iverson suits to match NBA dress code

Russell Westbrook
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It was 10 years ago this year that David Stern sent out the dress code memo. NBA players were dressing like everyone into the hip-hop culture — baggy jeans, sports clothing, gold chains, etc. This didn’t play well with the old, rich, white guys that buy luxury boxes and expensive seats (not to mention the league sponsors). Stern stepped in and made his call.

Players called it the AI rule, after Allen Iverson (who was at the forefront of ushering hip-hop culture into the NBA). Iverson, as you would expect, hated it.

Andre Iguodala didn’t like it either but he complied — and bought suits for Iverson so he would comply as well, Iguodala told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Former Sixers forward Andrew Iguodala said Iverson bought several oversized suits to adhere to the dress code.

“Allen wasn’t a fan of it,” said Iguodala, now with the Warriors. “Allen just wanted to be comfortable. He wasn’t trying to just be a rebel without a cause. He was like, ‘I just want to be comfortable. I just want to go to the game and play basketball.’ He didn’t want to be uptight or feel restricted.

“You watched him play and his style was to be able to freelance and move carefree, just be comfortable in his own world. He said, ‘When I do that, I don’t want to be restricted with a tie or collar on my neck.’ “

The pendulum has swung the other way now — many players pride themselves on how they dress. A few guys even have their own clothing or accessory lines. The league relaxed the rule some — players used to have wear sport coats, now they can wear dress jeans and a button up shirt — but a lot of players go above and beyond anyway.

Then there is whatever Russell Westbrook is doing.

 

What preseason? Russell Westbrook drops triple-double on Jazz (VIDEO)

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With the NBA season going to start in a week, Thunder coach decided to run his first team out for something closer to regulation minutes. The Thunder reminded everyone just how good they are.

Russell Westbrook scored 21 points (on 14 shots), plus had 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Thunder past the Jazz 113-102. As you can see above, he looks to be in mid-season form.

So did Kevin Durant, who dropped 29 and is back to being an unstoppable scoring machine this preseason. And remember, they did all this on a Jazz team that is built around its defense and who also played their starters heavy minutes.

Report: Popovich “unquestionably No. 1 choice” to be next USA coach

Gregg Popovich
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Jerry Colangelo — the USA Basketball chairman and ultimate decision maker on who replaces Mike Krzyzewski as the Team USA coach —  was on SiriusXM NBA Radio Tuesday and said this about who will land that job:

“Odds are that it will be a professional coach.”

The smart money has long been on the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to be the man. While any decision on the next USA basketball coach is a year away (at least), the feeling is Popovich will get the job, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

The Spurs’ five-time champion coach is “clearly, unquestionably the No. 1 choice,” according to a person involved in the coaching business. “There really is no second place.” Not only is he the most accomplished and respected current NBA coach, but Pop also checks several other boxes that Krzyzewski and Colangelo will no doubt consider in identifying possible successors. (Yes, both men will have most, if not all the say in who gets this gig.)

For example, Krzyzewski told ESPN that he believes it would be a plus for his successor to have international coaching experience. Popovich does that one better; he has international espionage experience as a former Air Force intelligence officer! He also has served as a Team USA assistant and has international experience as a player.

There are only a handful of guys who can be considered for that job because that coach needs to be someone elite players are willing to play for during their off-season. Also, he needs to be able to rise above the petty politics of agents and shoe companies lobbying for certain players. Popovich certainly qualifies (John Calipari, not so much).

Around the NBA, there is a sense that they would like to see an NBA coach in that seat. If it’s not Popovich, Doc Rivers is a name I have heard mentioned, but in this report Berger says his star has faded a little with USA Basketball. It is possible someone like Billy Donovan or Brad Stevens could rise to that position, but they are not there yet.

This should be Popovich’s job, there isn’t another choice nearly as good.