Author: Kurt Helin

David Blatt

Cavaliers’ players rave about David Blatt’s “Spurs-esque” offense


LeBron James has already mastered it.

Mike Miller called it “borderline genius.”

Now Brendan Haywood has called it “Spurs-esque.”

It’s Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt’s offense, and those three are not alone. All the Cavaliers players are raving about it. The offense is based on Princeton principles (that’s where he played in college) and honed over decades in Europe where you can’t just throw the ball to LeBron and clear out a side. Blatt said this summer the goal is a read-and-react offense — read the defense then make your cut/pass/move based on how to unbalance the defense, in concert with your teammates. The ball constantly moves and so do the players. It’s a direction the NBA is trending — no just raising two fingers and getting “horns” or “floppy” or some other play where the defense knows what is coming (likely because they run it). Too much good scouting to get away with that now.

Blatt was brought over after winning 19 trophies in 21 years of coaching in Europe because he was seen as an offensive genius. As the Cavaliers players are getting a good look at his offense, they are agreeing. Look what some Cavs players told Brendan Bowers of SLAM.

Brendan Haywood: “I like his offense a lot. There’s great ball movement, which is very key in the game of basketball. There isn’t as much of one-on-one. There’s a lot of the ball being kicked from one side of the court to another, which is important. But I said ‘Spurs-esque’ because it’s really all about ball movement—like how the Spurs create those mismatches with defenses by moving the ball so precisely. It doesn’t let the defense lock in on one guy.”

Shawn Marion: “But it’s really free-flowing, like I said. The ball really moves. By moving the ball like that, we should be able to keep some offensive pressure up on teams. Spacing is really important too. Both forward positions are interchangeable and it’s important for guys to get to their spots.”

Joe Harris: “I really enjoy the offense overall. It’s great for guys like myself and James and Mike Miller because it gives you spacing to knock down shots. Then that opens things up for our playmakers, LeBron, Kyrie, Dion, those guys can really attack the basket and create off the bounce with that spacing.”

Two quick thoughts:

First, the idea of LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving all working in unison in a Spursian offense is downright frightening. That’s a boatload of talent that, if it buys in and executes the system, will be fearsome on offense and challenge the Clippers (and a few others) for best offense in the NBA. In a couple years it may not be that close.

Second, it could take time. When you talk to the Spurs about the transition to their current offense they say it really took two seasons to get it — Patty Mills told PBT he sat on the bench for a couple seasons just absorbing before he could step into his current backup role. The Cavaliers will still be a very good offensive team this season but it may be next season or the one after that before their offense really starts to pay huge dividends (the Kincks will go through the same trials with the triangle).

Suns to use Markieff Morris at center some this year

Phoenix Suns Media Day

Last season, the Suns had a lot of success going small at times.

They played Channing Frye as a sort of stretch five, which spaced out the floor and opened driving lanes for Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Frye was a dangerous pick-and-pop partner for the Suns impressive backcourt.

Now Frye is spacing the floor for the Orlando Magic (and cashing in some checks). So enter Markieff Morris.

Morris, who just signed a big new contract extension, was fourth in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season for the energy and 15.8 points a game he brought off the bench last season.

But what he didn’t bring was three point shooting — 31.5 percent from beyond the arc. To be fair, he did shoot a very respectable 42.9 percent on long twos and he reportedly has been working on this part of his game.

We’ll see how Morris fits this new role, but Jeff Hornacek isn’t afraid of the unconventional lineup. We’ll likely see Morris and Anthony Tolliver trying to stretch the floor for the Suns.

Don’t expect changes to NBA’s domestic violence policies anytime soon

Adam Silver

So far the Charlotte Hornets have handled the Jeff Taylor domestic assault situation well. They investigated then decided to keep Taylor out of camp and away from the team while the case starts to work its way through the legal process. That has been all Hornets, not the NBA league office.

At the same time, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA would review its domestic violence policy, particularly in wake of the NFL’s fumbling of the Ray Rice situation.

That process may not be as smooth. At least don’t expect anything to happen quickly.

Sports Illustrated’s sports law expert Michael McCann has a great breakdown of why this will not be so simple.

The NBA has not disciplined Taylor, who is unlikely to receive any punishment from the league anytime soon for at least two reasons. First, he’s been charged, not convicted. Second, Taylor’s charges are classified as misdemeanors, not felonies. Article VI of the league’s collective bargaining agreement is the key section for disciplining NBA players who commit domestic violence. It authorizes NBA suspensions only for players who are convicted or who plead guilty to a violent felony. This is a remarkably tolerant standard for players who commit domestic violence, one of the most difficult crimes to prosecute. Victims of domestic violence often refuse to testify against their significant others, thus denying prosecutors of their most crucial witness.

The policy of the NBA, like most professional leagues, has been to let the legal system run its course before acting, but in today’s world that kind of patience is not always a good course of action (see the Rice situation with the NFL). Especially with domestic violence cases, where the charges are often reduced.

There are other parts of the league constitution Silver could use to punish a player who violates laws or does something that is “detrimental to the NBA.”

But the other part of that is the NBA needs to negotiate any tougher rules with the players union, and that may not be so simple. Michelle Roberts, the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, was very forthright speaking to McCann.

Roberts—a former public defender—will likely also oppose any changes to the NBA’s domestic violence policy that could lead to punishments in the absence of convictions or guilty pleas. The reasoning is simple: sometimes people are wrongly accused. In an interview with, Roberts made clear the limits of any changes until the next round of collective bargaining. “We have already addressed these issues in the CBA,” Roberts told “There are existing policies in place that were negotiated. That said, we would be open to discussions about increased training and education and, most importantly, developing strategies to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place.” Roberts expressed opposition to changing the penalty scheme, however, until there is a new round of collective bargaining.

The next round of collective bargaining will not come until 2017 (expect the players to opt out and renegotiate that summer).

Roberts isn’t going to move before then because everything is not on the table in negotiations yet — she would be giving the NBA something for nothing. The players already feel they did that last time around in the lockout year, they are not going down that road again.

Meaning it’s going to be a couple years before there is any real change in the NBA’s policy.

Postal Service creates Wilt Chamberlain stamps


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Just like Wilt Chamberlain himself, these new official United States stamps be larger than life (or at least other stamps).

Next week (Oct. 8) the new Wilt Chamberlain commemorative stamps will go on sale and they are larger than even the average commemorative stamp — two inches tall. They will be available through the Postal Service or the Web site, so you’ll be able to get them in time to put on all those Christmas cards your wife buys, addresses and does all the work on for you (well, that’s how it goes at my house).

It’s fitting because Wilt was larger than life — this is a guy who scored 100 points in a game, averaged 50.4 points a night in 1961-62, who averaged more than 30 points a game for nine seasons and more than 20 rebounds a game for a dozen seasons, whose career averages were 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds a game, a man who dished out more assists than anyone in the league in 1968 just to show he could. And that’s just his on-the-court exploits.

Philadelphia Tribune sportswriter Donald Hunt pushed a campaign to get Wilt on a stamp, and it has finally happened.

The Sixers will have a tribute night for Chamberlain Dec. 5 when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town.

Report: Los Angeles Dodgers’ owners in talks to buy part of Brooklyn Nets as part of “combination of assets”

Magic Johnson

The Brooklyn Nets have quietly been on the market for a while now, or at least a portion of them. Remember Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team as much to be part of the Brooklyn Yards real estate development as much as anything, the team is just a pawn in that chess match.

Now it appears he may have a potential buyer/partner in Los Angeles Dodgers ownership, Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets. Yes, the group with Magic Johnson as its face. Yes, the owners of that other team that moved out of Brooklyn back in the day. That group has been looking to expand its sports portfolio in recent months. broke the story.

The ownership of the Brooklyn Nets is in “ongoing discussions” with Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets, owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on a “combination of assets.” Mikhail Prokhorov would remain in control of the Nets, say sources close to the discussions.

In the discussions, the team is being valued at $1.7 billion and the arena at $1.1 billion, said both sources. There is no agreement yet, nor a deadline for a conclusion of the discussions. The next step would be an agreement in principle followed by a closing.

The discussions are continuing, said one source. A second source says that Guggenheim’s president, Todd Boehly, met in Moscow earlier this week with Prokhorov, minority owner Bruce Ratner, and CEO Brett Yormark.

Apparently the idea is to keep Prokhorov and his team running the Nets, although you’d have to think Magic Johnson is going to want to jump into those waters too (and Nets fans, that is not a good thing). Basically the Nets have an actual oligarch owning the team and would bring in the American equivalent of that with this group.

Both sides probably see a lot of potential real estate moves around the home stadiums of said teams.

The Guggenheim group and Prokhorov have this in common: They are willing to spend. The Dodgers are the highest payroll team in baseball ($235.3 million), the Nets will again be the highest in the NBA at $95.8 million (that after a summer of curbing their spending).

This may or may not pan out, deals fall apart, but it sounds like things are moving along. It would be an interesting pairing in the NBA.