Author: Kurt Helin

Tom Thibodeau

Five Things We Learned in the NBA Monday: Tom Thibodeau is not a happy man


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while reading about the home Muhammad Ali grew up in

The Chicago Bulls are not playing Thibodeau-level defense. For the past few years, through all the injuries and challenges, the Bulls at least played good defense. But not lately. Monday they let the Cavaliers — who has played better in their now three game winning streak — score 108 points, which translates into 116.1 points per 100 possessions. In their last five games the Bulls have allowed teams to score 113.6 per 100 — that’s 29th in the NBA in that stretch. The Bulls are not defending or rotating with energy, evidenced by the Cavaliers taking 49 of their 90 shot attempts in the paint. The Bulls have lost 6-of-8, Derrick Rose is more than irritated, and Tom Thibodeau is losing it in post-game press conferences saying “enough is enough.” The Bulls offense has not been pretty of late either, but Chicago has gotten away from its identity as a defensive power. If that doesn’t change, the dream of making the NBA Finals will fade faster than Thibodeau’s voice.

James Harden doesn’t care how good your defense is, he will score on it. At will. The Indiana Pacers are still a top 10 defense this season. James Harden doesn’t care. He scored 45 points on 12-of-18 shooting (he got to the free throw line 15 times). The beard can flat out score.

The Knicks can win a game. Break up the Knicks. Sure, it took playing a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis or Jrue Holiday playing on the second night of a road back-to-back, but so what. The Knicks got a win. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and 9 boards but most importantly played selfless, smart basketball in the final minute. However, the star of the show was Langston Galloway. If you just said “Who is that?” the answer is the guy who put up 21 points and can do this.

The Dallas Mavericks can beat a good team. Coming into Monday Dallas was 1-8 against Western Conference playoff teams, while Memphis was 10-3 against that same group. So consider this your daily reminder that the Western Conference playoffs will be a bloodbath. Dallas took an early lead then, when it was tight late, they got great play out of Dirk Nowitzki and some key buckets from Rajon Rondo to get the win. Memphis was 3-of-22 from three and had just one bucket in the final four minutes as Dallas is playing better defense of late. Dallas was 10-of-25 from three and will be much more dangerous if they keep shooting and hitting from deep.

The Cleveland Cavaliers can play defense. This game was the best we have seen Cleveland play this season. Sure, LeBron James was doing LeBron James things, J.R. Smith was raining threes, and the return of Kevin Love brought better movement and passing to the Cavaliers offense, but that’s not the most impressive part of the game for them. No, the real story is the Cavaliers played good defense. The Bulls shot just 37.5 percent in this game and the Cavaliers contested 51 of the Bulls 80 shot attempts. Timofey Mozgov was strong in the paint, taking away easy looks. This was the best the Cavs have defended this season and if they keep this up they will get a lot closer to fulfilling their promise. But they have to start doing this consistently.

Report: Grizzlies in “serious discussions” to sign Tyrus Thomas from D-League

Utah Jazz v Charlotte Bobcats

Tyrus Thomas has been out of the NBA for more than a year, his athleticism no longer able to cover poor decision making on both ends of court, so Charlotte amnestied him. Part of his decline was that the Bobcats tried to play him at the three (out of position) but that no other team had interest speaks to how far his game had fallen.

But now it appears he’s going to get another chance.

After playing well in the D-League the Memphis Grizzlies are interested, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Thomas, the former No. 4 pick (2006), had said previously he felt lethargic back with Charlotte two seasons ago, but he now believes that was due to a cyst on his spinal cord. He had that removed last year and this fall tried to make a comeback in the D-League.

Thomas had previously told Spears he was miserable in the D-League. Well, now he gets another chance. He reportedly has lost some of that athleticism, but if he’s making better decisions he may be able to stick.

If Charles Barkley leaves broadcasting in a couple years, could Kobe Bryant replace him?


It’s hard to picture TNT’s must-watch “Inside the NBA” working without Charles Barkley. Shaq is great, Kenny Smith fits perfectly, Ernie Johnson is a great straight man and facilitator, but Barkley is the engine of that show.

However, Barkley has hinted he could walk away from TNT when his contract is up in 2016.

If he does the suits at TNT are going to struggle to find the right guy to replace him, but Sports Illustrated’s smart media writer Richard Deitsch had an interesting suggestion:

Kobe Bryant.

There are certain traits shared by the best sports broadcasters: intelligence, passion, credibility and honesty. Personally, I like a bit of edge and distance from the establishment, too. Bryant possesses all of these. If you talk to NBA beat and national writers, Bryant has become one of the best interview subjects in the game. That he’s also an all-time great is a huge marketing bonus….

If Bryant indicates he is serious about a broadcasting career after his NBA career ends, industry sources say he’d command $4 million to $5 million annually, if not more, because there would be a heavy competition for his services. ESPN (whose studio show is based in L.A.) and Turner are guaranteed to be interested.

“He’s obviously smart and articulate and he would be a great candidate,” said Turner Sports senior vice president and executive creative director Craig Barry. “But like any job there is a certain amount of passion that the person needs to have for the day to day. That element of passion and wanting to share the game is a huge part of being able to connect with the viewer. That’s a huge part of being a successful broadcaster and I think Kobe would be great at it. But he would have to want to do it.”

Kobe has spent more time in recent years building up his business brand, Kobe Inc. It is that world he is expected to focus on when he hangs up his sneakers, he’ll be a businessman.

But few things are better for your brand than being on television every week.

That said, I’m not sure being in a barbershop style studio show like “Inside the NBA” really fits Kobe. He’s smart and sarcastic and can be funny, but he’s a little too intense and serious for that style show. Although him and Shaq in the same room once a week would be awesome. However, I could see Kobe as a studio analyst for ESPN.

I don’t expect Kobe to take that kind of role or do television at all, in fact I hope come 2016 Barkley has a change of heart and doesn’t leave TNT. But this is out there.