Kurt Helin

Watch DeMarcus Cousins drop 23 on Clippers Tuesday

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It was a showdown of the USA’s Olympic centers — DeMarcus Cousins vs. DeAndre Jordan.

Well, maybe “showdown” is a bit of a strong word for a preseason game, but Cousins got the best of his gold medal teammate dropping 23 points on 10-of-17 in the game. Cousins knocked down midrange jumpers, ran the floor in transition, and was a bully inside (especially when matched up with anyone smaller than himself, such as Blake Griffin). Cousins also pulled down eight rebounds and looked to be in midseason form in front of the home crowd at the new building in downtown Sacramento.

The Clippers came from behind in the fourth quarter to get the 92-89 win, if you care about such things in the preseason.

Report: Spurs deny any kind of trade talks involving LaMarcus Aldridge

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There have been a couple of reports this preseason suggesting the Spurs could come around to the idea of trading LaMarcus Aldridge, the latest coming from the highly-respected Jackie McMullan of ESPN. There have been questions about his fit off the court with the button-down Spurs organization, whether or not he was happy sharing the spotlight (an issue that was at the heart of the friction he had in Portland with Brandon Roy then Damian Lillard).

But did you really think the Spurs were going to rush into anything in the short term? That’s about as likely as the third presidential debate being a thoughtful, civil policy discussion. The Spurs have not made a move toward moving Aldridge, and they may never take that step. Jeff McDonald and Jabari Young break it all down at the San Antonio Express-News.

Spurs sources denied the report, saying no talks have occurred with any team….

They do not enter 2016-17 with the immediate intention of rebuilding in aftermath of Tim Duncan’s retirement. They did not sign Pau Gasol to a $31 million contract and bring Manu Ginobili back at $14 million with designs on scrapping everything and starting over.

Still, if their season goes unexpectedly south, league sources believe the Spurs might be tempted to investigate what return they might get for Aldridge.

So to be clear: If the Spurs — who most prognosticators see as the third or fourth best team in the NBA, a team on its way to at least 55 wins once again — struggle they might start to explore trade packages. Might. Don’t go counting on Aldridge coming to your team anytime soon.

The Spurs are going to make as good a run as they can at Golden State this season, and if that doesn’t pan out maybe next summer changes come. But don’t expect a rushed mid-season move, that’s just not who Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are.

LeBron James’ chasedown block in midseason form. Ask Kelly Oubre.

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Oh, young Kelly Oubre. If you steal the ball from LeBron James and try to race him to the rim the other way, you better not get cute at the rim with a soft lay-up off the glass. LeBron eats soft lay-ups for breakfast. Ask Stephen Curry about it.

Tuesday night the Wizards’ Oubre made a nice defensive play, trying to deny the pass to LeBron and making a steal when the pass came anyway.  Kyrie Irving got back on defense, which made Oubre hesitate a little getting to the rim — and then comes the patented LeBron chasedown block.

That gets me ready for the season to start.

Sixers GM: Team, Nerlens Noel not talking contract extension

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Nerlens Noel is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract, the Sixers and Noel could pound out an extension by Oct. 31 and lock the athletic big man up for years.

But that is not going to happen. For a variety of reasons.

Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo said an extension was not likely, speaking to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It’s not really something that we’ve discussed given some of the concerns that I think Nerlens has had right now,” said Colangelo, the team’s president of basketball operations. “There’s been very little, if any, discussion with his agents about any extension scenarios.

“But, I’ll just leave it at that.”

Those concerns are Noel saying that the Sixers have too crowded a frontcourt — which is true when everyone is healthy. Which they are not right now. But there is Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil  Okafor, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Jerami Grant. It’s a lot of young bodies. Embiid is emerging as a powerful center, and Brett Brown told NBC he wants to experiment with lineups to see if Embiid, Okafor, and Saric can all play together. Same with Simmons and Saric.  Noel is in that mix as well, there are questions about how all the puzzle pieces are going to fit up front.

Eventually, there is going to be an odd man — or men — out, and there’s a real chance Noel is that guy, because he has real value in a trade. He and Okafor have been discussed in trades, but no offer has truly interested the Sixers yet. Still, it’s easier to trade him if Noel simply has a qualifying offer and enters next summer as a restricted free agent.

All that means you can cross Noel off the list of guys going to get a contract extension before the Halloween deadline.

Charles Barkley says Warriors still a flawed team even with Durant

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NEW YORK (AP) — Charles Barkley didn’t want Kevin Durant to join the Golden State Warriors and isn’t sure Durant changes things now that he’s there.

In Barkley’s mind, the Warriors are still a flawed team.

“Let me say this: I still think they got some of the same issues this year with that team,” Barkley said Tuesday.

“Can they rebound the ball? They’re going to still be shooting jumpers. They’re not going to get any low-post scoring. Can that type of play hold up through the rigors of the NBA playoffs? I’m still going to say the same thing I’ve always said: No.”

The Warriors won a record 73 games in the regular season but blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State then signed Durant, the former NBA MVP, in the offseason.

That’s made the Warriors the favorites to regain the title they won in 2015, though Barkley said they were “lucky” then because their road was filled with teams weakened by injuries. Cleveland was already without Kevin Love in those Finals and lost Kyrie Irving near the end of Game 1.

The Cavs were healthy last year, and Barkley picked them to beat the Warriors.

“When I told you they couldn’t play that little small ball and win a championship if everybody they played was healthy, that they’d wear down, and they did. I told you Cleveland was going to beat them and they did,” Barkley said during a lunch before TNT’s “Inside the NBA” studio team was elected to the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Barkley and the team will host their show Tuesday night in Cleveland outside Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers will receive their rings before facing New York in their season opener. The Warriors will play San Antonio in the nightcap of TNT’s doubleheader.

Barkley, a Hall of Fame player who never won a championship, was disappointed that Durant left Oklahoma City for an easier chance at a title with the star-studded Warriors, who have two-time MVP Stephen Curry and fellow All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

If they win, Barkley said, the title won’t mean as much to Durant as it would have in Oklahoma City, where he had played since the Thunder franchise moved from Seattle in 2008 after his rookie season. Durant has been booed in rival arenas since his decision and has angered some of his former fans with what appeared to be criticisms of Russell Westbrook and his former team.

“He’s made himself a villain by taking all these shots at Oklahoma City for no reason. There’s no reason for that,” Barkley said. “He left, he’s happy, shut up. When you’re taking shots at Russell and those guys, that’s not necessary.”