Kurt Helin

NBA Draft Prospects Workout 2015

D’Angelo Russell cancels workout with Sixers, reportedly due to illness


The Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 3 pick in the June 25 NBA Draft. The Timberwolves get to pick No. 1 and are expected to take Karl Anthony Towns; followed by the Lakers, who likely snap up Jahlil Okafor.

That puts Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell in play for the Sixers. Russell was set to work out for the Sixers over the weekend.

But he cancelled. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer has the details.

D’Angelo Russell canceled this weekend’s scheduled workout with the 76ers after getting “real sick,” according to a source close to the former Ohio State standout. Another source said don’t rule out the franchise securing a workout with Russell in the near future….

However, Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie spent Friday at Impact Basketball to watch 7-1 power forward Kristaps Porzingis at the ASM Sports Pro Day. DraftExpress has the Sixers taking Porzingis third overall in the draft.

I see three likely possibilities here.

First, Russell actually is sick. That may have happened. I’m too big a cynic to think it’s the truth, but it certainly is possible.

Second, Russell got a promise from one of the teams with the top two picks. The Lakers have had rumors flying around that they like Russell, although I have heard they will take whichever big man Minnesota passes on. It seems unlikely either of the top teams would make such a promise, they have no reason to even if they wanted Russell.

Third, Russell’s agent is angling to land his client with the Knicks, who have the No. 4 pick. An agent trying to manipulate things to get his client to a major market? That I can see. There are certainly reports that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie likes Porzingas, but when push comes to shove is he going to pass up a promising guy to play the one in a point guard driven league?

Russell can score — 19.3 points a game, shoots 41 percent from three — plus is a gifted passer with phenomenal court vision. He’s also a big guard. His doubters note he is not a dynamic athlete, and that could be an issue at the NBA level where he will face those guys a lot of nights. 

Hinkie is the kind of GM who is willing to take a big risk on what he believes in, even if it’s a raw Euro big who doesn’t hang out in the paint and will freak out the fan base (Porzingas is not Andrea Bargnani, but that’s another post). Russell, however, seems the safer pick and one that fits with core pieces they already have in house.

Or, maybe we’re all just reading too much into a kid getting sick.

Stephen Curry’s wife takes little shot at Cavs fans on Instagram

2015 NBA Finals - Game Four

You may be familiar with Stephen Curry’s wife Ayesha Curry, as ABC’s NBA Finals broadcast seems obsessed with showing her and the Curry family 592 times a game. Give or take a few.

After the Warriors’ Game 4 win Thursday, Ayesha took to Instagram and took a little shot at the Cavaliers fans and the ongoing “which arena is louder” debate. (Is this topic even worthy of the word debate?)

If Riley is anything like my daughters, once she is out it really wouldn’t matter how loud the arena got – or how much her sister tried — she was not getting up.

As for which arena is louder (I was asked this on twitter the other day), it’s close but I would say Oracle’s fans are just a little bit louder. However, the Cleveland game-ops crew has the volume cranked up to 11 for all the in-house entertainment, even though the crowd is plenty loud without it.

Report: Utah will “actively pursue” bringing back Paul Millsap (but don’t bet on it)

Paul Millsap

An All-Star power forward who can clean the glass and hit threes at a 35 percent clip is going to be in demand as a free agent.

We’re looking at you, Paul Millsap. He averaged 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds last season as a key cog in the 60-win Atlanta Hawks team. He’s a free agent and the Hawks want him back.

But as noted above, he is the kind of talent that will be in demand. In fact, his former team the UtahJazzare interested and are going to make a run at him, reports Spencer Checketts on Twitter. And before you say “Who?” know Checketts is the son of former Jazz president Dave Checketts, and Spencer now has his own radio show on the Jazz-owned radio flagship station (hat tip KSL.com via Hoopshype).

Interesting. And not very likely.

Interesting because he wouldn’t have a natural place in the lineup. The Jazz like their young front line of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, and you don’t bring in a max (or near max) All-Star to come off the bench. And they certainly shouldn’t send Favors to the bench, they just re-signed him to a big deal a year ago. So it’s hard to see the fit.

Then there’s the little issue of money. Even if the Jazz dumped every non-guaranteed option on their roster (and that’s not likely), they would have $16.1 million available (according to BasketballInsiders.com). Millsap is going to demand at or very close to his max of $18.6 million a year.

If you can explain to me why Millsap would take less money to play for team where he would see fewer minutes, on a weaker team in a tougher conference, then maybe you can talk me into this rumor. But we both know this is not happening.

Report: Shawn Marion, other Cavaliers veterans may see run in Game 5

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers looked worn down and tired. LeBron James stopped taking the ball all the way to the rim, Matthew Dellavedova looked flat footed trying to guard Stephen Curry, and coach David Blatt admited as much after the Cavaliers dropped Game 4 to even the series.

“Tonight was the third game in five days, including the trip back from the West Coast, and it seemed to have an impact on us, yes,” Blatt said when asked if fatigue was a factor.

Blatt has stuck with a seven-man rotation for the most part since Kyrie Irving was injured, but the short bench and the energy expended to guard the Warriors in the Finals is wearing down the Cavaliers.

Which has led rumors Blatt may finally reach deeper into his bench, tapping veterans like Shawn Marrion and Mike Miller, among others, for bigger roles. From Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

With several players, James and Dellavedova especially, looking worn down from the demands in the playoffs, players have begun to privately grumble that Blatt needs to use his whole roster.

With Warriors coach Steve Kerr going to a perimeter-heavy offense with Andre Iguodala in for Andrew Bogut, the feel is Blatt could take another look at Miller and perhaps give veteran Shawn Marion, who has yet to play in the series, a look. With the Warriors’ depth on the wing, the Cavs ended up being stretched exceedingly thin.

Several sources said Marion, who already has announced he’ll retire following the season, is especially itching to get a chance. He’s recently been bothered by a calf injury and also dealt with a hip injury in the regular season but is healthy and able to go.

Blatt has been sitting those guys for a reason, but these may be the desperate times where he leans on those veterans hoping for at least 10 good minutes. Miller has performed on big stages before, Marion can still make plays. They don’t need to dominate, just hold down the fort.

Ideally, those would be minutes LeBron could rest. In Game 4 the Cavaliers had trimmed a double-digit Warriors’ lead to three but when LeBron went to the bench for just a couple minutes of rest, the lead quickly ballooned back up to 10. The Cavaliers could never really close the gap again.

The Cavaliers catch a break with a couple days off between games 4 and 5 (and between 6 and 7 if it goes that far). They are banking on some rest and just better shooting to pull them back up in Game 5.

But a little help from the veterans down the bench would be a big boost, too.

PBT Podcast: Breaking down the return of the Warriors in Game 4

2015 NBA Finals - Game Four
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Golden State looked like Golden State again in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, winning comfortably on the road.

In today’s edition of the PBT Podcast, we’ve got PBT’s Brett Pollakoff and NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down what the Warriors did going small with Stephen Curry in the starting lineup, plus looking at what the Cavaliers can do to counter that. Which is limited.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.