Author: Kurt Helin

Tony Parker

Tony Parker hits a back over-the-head halfcourt shot (VIDEO)


Is there a shot Tony Parker can’t make?

While we’ve had some questionable Parker trick shot videos this summer, this looks legit. And it’s impressive.

That said, I’m pretty sure Popovich doesn’t want him taking one of these in a game. I feel confident about that.

Hornets’ Jeff Taylor says he’s recovered from ruptured Achilles

Dallas Mavericks v Charlotte Bobcats

Jeff Taylor just wants to get back on the court, provide a little wing depth for the Hornets.

Getting on the court is not going to be that easy because the Hornets are loaded at the three — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back as the starter at the three, Lance Stephenson is at the two (but can play some three) and Gerald Henderson can back up both positions and Gary Neal is in the mix — but he was getting more than 24 minutes a game at the start of last season.

The other key is Taylor being healthy after rupturing his Achilles last season, He told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer he is good to go and has showed it working out with teammates at the Hornets’ facilities before camp it opens.

“It’s been a long road,” Taylor said. “With an Achilles injury, you have to be really patient — slowly getting back all your strength, back to what you were….”

“It’s not an injury anymore. It’s healed,” he said. “It’s not weighing on my mind.”

If Taylor is going to get the run he wants two things have to happen. First is he has to find his stroke from three again — he shot 34.4 percent as a rookie but that fell off to 26.9 percent last season. Taylor has a sweet release.

He’s also going to have to continue to show defensive improvement. Coach Steve Clifford guided the Hornets (then Bobcats) to the playoffs last season on the strength of a sixth ranked defense (and enough points from Al Jefferson to stay ahead). Taylor struggled defensively as a rookie but was improved last season before the injury. Now he needs to take another step forward on that end because, as mentioned above, Clifford has other good options. Bottom line, you can’t be a “3 and D” player in the league without the D.

At least Taylor is back, healthy and ready to prove he belongs on the court.

Andrew Wiggins says he doesn’t feel much pressure heading to Minnesota

Timberwolves New Players

Minnesota couldn’t have done much better than getting Andrew Wiggins back for the forced trade of Kevin Love — they landed arguably the most hyped prospect entering the NBA in a decade. A guy with a world of potential.

Now is there pressure is on him to become the next face of the franchise? To grow into that cornerstone that the Timberwolves can build a winner around? That can be a lot of weight on the shoulders of a 19-year-old, right?

No. At least Wiggins doesn’t see it that way, speaking to the media in Minnesota (hat tip to Dime Magazine).

“I don’t really feel like it’s too much pressure right now. I’ve been through being the number one player in high school, in college, all that stuff. So, pressure to me has really died down; I don’t feel it as much as I used to.”

Everyone knew at Kansas he was going to have one year to get it right, then he was off to the NBA. With Minnesota he doesn’t have that kind of time pressure, nobody expects much of anything from the Timberwolves this season. It’s about improving, it’s about growth.

Speaking of growth, it’s easy to play the “what if” game here: “What if Wiggins had gotten to learn how to be a pro from being on the same team with LeBron James?” On paper that’s intriguing, and there were people who didn’t want the Cavs to make this deal. (Those people were wrong, by the way, Cleveland did the right thing.)

The reality is there are plenty of mentors in the NBA for a player willing to listen, and going to Minnesota means Wiggins is going to get thrown in the fire from the start and asked to play. A lot. That is the best way to learn.

“I think it’s a great situation whenever I think about it. It gives me more freedom. I’m sure surrounded by young guys that have the same intentions and determinations as me — to really win and get better every day.”

Watching Wiggins and Minnesota this season is going to be fun. They aren’t going to win much, but he’s gong to put up a few highlights and be fun to watch.

And at the end of the season we can talk about growth. The pressure part comes down the line.

Report: Zoran Dragic “in advanced discussions” to leave Europe for Suns next season

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UPDATE: According to Marc Stein of ESPN the Suns have emerged as the clear frontrunner to land Zoran Dragic, and pair him with his brother Goran. This will likely be a two-year deal at least.


After a strong showing at the World Cup for Slovenia — 12.9 points a game and he shot 43.3 percent from three — a lot of NBA teams were interested in Zoran Dragic.

The Phoenix Suns want him badly — next summer they have to convinced his brother and the team’s star point guard Goran Dragic to stay as a free agent (he’s likely to) and having his brother on the team helps that cause. The Kings and Pacers both are said to be making a hard push. The Rockets, Mavericks, Heat and Spurs also all are rumored to have made inquiries.

It seems like someone is making real progress, reports Shams Charania of Real GM.

Of course, it’s all about the money.

First, Dragic’s buyout from BC Unicaja works out to about $962,325 (it’s 750,000 Euros, our number is at the exchange rate as of Sunday morning) and no NBA team is allowed to pay more than $600,000 of it. That means Dragic has to pay the rest. That’s a lot of dough.

Also, Dragic’s BC Unicaja salary is about $1.4 million dollars a year, plus the team covers his rent and some living expenses. Basically, whatever NBA team signs him is going to have to pay him at least $2 million and likely more to lure him away.

The undrafted Dragic can be signed at any price, he is basically a restricted free agent.

One that more and more it looks like will be coming to the NBA next season — somebody is willing to pony up to make it worth his while.

Following toe surgery, Shaun Livingston may not be ready for start of Warriors camp

Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets

Shaun Livingston suffered what he thought was a sprained big toe on his right foot during the the Nets’ playoff run last season, but just played through it at the time. He figured once the summer came and he rested it things would improve.

They didn’t, so in mid August he had toe surgery.

That surgery had a 6-8 week recovery time that could cost him the start of training camp with his new team in Golden State, something Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports confirmed.

It’s not ideal, what with Livingston coming to a new team that has a new coach in Steve Kerr bringing in a new system. That said, Livingston is a veteran and smart player who can pick this up quickly.

Livingston is a big upgrade for the Warriors, who last season traded for Steve Blake because he was going to be an upgrade off the bench behind Stephen Curry at the point (except he wasn’t). The result was Curry getting 35.4 minutes a night, and while he’s one of the best players in the game and should get heavy minutes it would be better for the Warriors long term to get him some rest.

By the way, the second part of that tweet — Golden State getting Festus Ezeli back early in camp — is also key. More than keeping Curry’s minutes down and having a good backup for him, what really matters is keeping Andrew Bogut’s minutes down and having a good backup for him. Ezeli is key.

If Golden State can have a better bench this season and keep their starters fresher for the playoffs, they brome a much more dangerous team.