Kurt Helin

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Kings’ GM Vlade Divac on DeMarcus Cousins: “He’s not going to be traded – this year for sure”

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DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors will not die, they are the “time traveler in old photos” stories of the NBA. There have been reports as recently as the last few weeks that the moodiness of Cousins has him potentially on the block.

Well, not if you ask Vlade Divac, the guy who would have to approve such a trade. Which is what long-time guy on the Kings beat in Sacramento Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 reports was done after the Dave Joerger hiring press conference on Tuesday.

This is the smart thing to do. Not that it will stop the rumors. Too many fans from Boston to Los Angeles have dreams of Cousins and will not give them up, no matter how many facts get thrown in their face. Making those Cousins trade rumors supporters the climate change deniers of the NBA.

Even if the Kings were open to trading him as was rumored, Divac would never admit it and give up leverage. The bottom line is that the package that it would take to get the Kings to even consider trading Cousins is going to be insanely high, more than teams would surrender. This is no firesale.

Again, giving Joerger a chance with Cousins and a modified roster is the smart move. Cousins is talented, and Joerger has had success working with both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph (and Randolph had a reputation as not easy to deal with). The Kings would not get nearly the same value back for Cousins, the best traditional center in the game right now. Try to make this work, put better talent around him and give this one more chance (and if it starts to work, don’t cut the legs out from under Joerger ala Mike Malone).

If it doesn’t work, then revisit things next year.

Whiteside not flying with Heat to Toronto for Game 5

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MIAMI (AP) Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat will not accompany his team to Toronto for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series there on Wednesday night.

The Heat were flying north on Tuesday. Before departing, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Whiteside will remain home to continue getting therapy on his injured right knee.

Whiteside did not play in Game 4 of the Heat-Raptors series on Monday. He sprained the medial collateral ligament in the knee while taking an awkward fall in Game 3.

The Heat still plan to list him as day-to-day going forward. Game 6 of the series is Friday in Miami.

Miami and Toronto have split the first four games of the series.

PBT Podcast: Stephen Curry as MVP plus playoff talk with Dan Feldman

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Stephen Curry is the MVP, but we all knew that was coming. The real question was would he be the NBA’s first-ever unanimous MVP was up in the air.  Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports discuss why Curry could get that consensus when LeBron James and Shaq couldn’t in the past. The pair also

Yes, he is. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports discuss why Curry could get that consensus when LeBron James and Shaq couldn’t in the past in this latest NBC Sports PBT Podcast. The pair also

The pair also discusses all four playoff series — especially focused on Spurs/Thunder, but even discussing Raptors/Heat — as well as the coaching changes in Sacramento, Indiana, and Memphis. What should Frank Vogel do?

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

DeMar DeRozan isn’t worried that rough playoffs will cost him money this summer

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Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan will be a free agent this summer, an All-Star wing hitting a market flooded with cash.

But DeRozan’s shortcomings have been exposed these playoffs. While he is averaging 17.7 points per game in the postseason (down from 23.5 in the regular season) he is shooting just 33 percent overall, he’s got a PER of 9.1 (bench warmer level) and he’s been exposed on defense. His lack of a three point threat allows teams to play off him and clog the lane when he drives. Then DeRozan injured his right thumb, making matters worse. Rather than words, let’s use a shot chart to explain the problem:

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Will that impact how much money DeRozan makes this summer?

He told Michael Lee of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports he’s not worried about that.

“I feel like I have nothing to worry about,” DeRozan said of his pending free agency. “I take it day by day, whatever happens. I’m not even looking towards then. I’m thinking about the next game and trying to figure out that.”

Going into the playoffs, DeRozan was considered a max player around the league, which for him is a first-year salary starting at (projected) $25.9 million.

Is he still a max guy? Probably. Or at least very close to it. He’s an All-Star level attacking wing who is going to get a team a lot of buckets, a guy who can create his own shot and carry an offense for a stretch. And remember, two-thirds of NBA teams will have the cap space to offer a max deal, that’s a lot of money burning a hole in GMs pockets. There are obvious holes in DeRozan’s game, and you’re going to need certain things around him to maximize what he brings — wings who can defend and floor spacing shooters. But if the Raptors aren’t going to spend on him, other teams will.

DeRozan also has grown comfortable playing next to Kyle Lowry, how will he perform next to a different style of point guard or in a different style of offense is something teams need to ask. He has a real fit in Toronto (plus he likes the city).

DeRozan may stay in Toronto because of that value and attachment, and because they will pay him as much as anyone else. But other teams — most notably, his hometown Lakers — will come calling. DeRozan will have plenty of options.

Which is to say, all that red in the chart above isn’t going to hurt DeRozan’s grabbing the green this summer.

Three things to watch in Thunder vs. Spurs Game 5

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It’s a best of three, and both teams have one on the other’s home floor. You don’t need me to tell you this game is critical, but here are three things to watch for tonight:

1) Will the Spurs get back to moving the ball? The book on the Thunder defenders are that they are long and athletic, but if you can get them scrambling around with ball movement they get out of position, make mistakes, and that can be exploited for easy buckets (or at least easier buckets). Think back to Game 1 of this series, when the Spurs moved the ball and won handily.

But that has not been the case as the series has gone on — the Thunder defense has gotten better, and the Spurs have responded with more LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard in isolation (two players that like to work one-on-one). This chart sums up the Spurs ball movement through this series.

Put simply, the Spurs need to get back to making the extra pass, and with it get the Thunder defense rotating and on its heels a little. A one-on-one isolation matchup favors Oklahoma City and their ridiculous scorers.

2) The Spurs need to deal better with the Steven Adams/Enes Kanter Thunder front line.
With Tim Duncan sitting on the sidelines a lot due to foul trouble, the Spurs “big” lineup of Adams and Kanter were +16 on the night, including playing the entire fourth quarter together when the Thunder pulled away and got the win. David West played that entire fourth for the Spurs and was exposed — when Adams started scoring by rolling to the rim after setting a pin-down screen for Kevin Durant, the Spurs countered that by switching on that pick. The problem was that left West on Durant too often, and KD can either shoot over or blow by West at his discretion. By the time the Spurs were adjusting Durant was in the zone and it was moot how they covered him. San Antonio has to do better against this lineup, and one way is to make sure they use Kanter’s man to set picks on offense — he’s improved a little as a defender, but he can still be exposed and the Spurs haven’t gone at him consistently enough this series.

3) Billy Donovan is not getting outcoached by Popovich this series.
There are still adjustments to be made and tweaks to come, but about this point in a series there are no more real secrets. Billy Donovan and the Thunder have tilted this series so far more toward their style of play — up-tempo and isolation — than Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. That’s not a knock on Pop (who I would have had at the top of my Coach of the Year ballot) but rather a statement that Donovan is figuring it out and has his team defending as well as they have all season. Give the man his due.