Author: Kurt Helin

Game 2 between the Brooklyn Nets against the Miami Heat 05/08/2014

Nets coach says Kevin Garnett will play this season, start in Brooklyn


There were questions about if Kevin Garnett would return this season to Brooklyn since his friend Paul Pierce is with the Wizards and the Nets are not going to be title contenders. I mean, there are 12 million reasons we thought he might come back ($$), but it was possible he decided not to put his body through that one more time and retire.

Nope, he’ll be back — and he’s going to start.

Nets coach Lionel Hollins finally spoke with KG and got the word he will return for a 20th NBA season, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News spoke with Hollins.

Garnett isn’t the offensive force he once was but the Nets don’t need him to be. Well, so long as Brook Lopez and Deron Williams can stay healthy next to Joe Johnson. What they need KG to do is direct the defense.

What Lionel Hollins needs to do is something Jason Kidd did not last season — figure out how to make the team click when Lopez and Garnett are on the court at the same time.

The Nets should be in the crowded middle of the East (making the playoffs but behind the Bulls and Cavaliers). You’ll learn a lot more about what the Nets should look like next season by reading the PBT season preview of Brooklyn.

Ryan Hollins says Lakers, Spurs, Bulls among teams interested in him

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Clippers

For much of last season, Ryan Hollins was one of the first bigs Doc Rivers had to go to off the bench with the Clippers — and the fact he played 7.9 minutes a game should tell you why Doc went looking for help. Big Baby Glen Davis took the role by the playoffs. This season Spencer Hawes and Ekpe Udoh are massive upgrades.

Which means Hollins is looking for a new gig.

He was on the Bottom Line Sports Show on SiriusXM NBA Radio this weekend and said a number of teams are interested.

Sure thing, Ryan. We’ll just say not all of those are great fits.

The Heat have the roster spots available technically (only 11 guaranteed contracts but a few guys like James Ennis that are still likely to make the cut) but they have Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen at center, not sure that’s a fit.

The Spurs… just no.

Along those lines I can’t see Tom Thibodeau playing Hollins much plus they have Joakim Noah and Nazr Mohammed at the five spot, plus are talking to Miroslav Radulijca and Gustavo Ayon,. The Lakers have roster spots but is Hollins good depth behind Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre (maybe they play Ed Davis at the five if they go small)?

The Kings… maybe but they have guys coming to camp they reportedly like better. They start DeMarcus Cousins and then can give minutes to Jason Thompson or whoever.

Basically, somebody is going to call Hollins either during camp or during the season, he’ll get a chance, but it will be because said team feels out of options.

Kevin Durant calls Allen Iverson “pound for pound” best ever

durant iverson

Kevin Durant and Allen Iverson were hanging out and Durant wrote this to go with the above photo on Instagram:

Chuck too real. He changed the way we play ball. He changed the culture of ball. He is pound for pound the best. He paved the way. I can go on and on. But he’s a legend and I’m just walking the path he created.

LeBron James said the same thing about Iverson.

To this day Iverson remains a controversial figure — his fans believe he was one of the greatest players of his generation, close to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. His inefficient stats don’t fit well in today’s NBA. When SB Nation’s Tom Ziller suggested last week that Chauncey Billups was better than Allen Iverson, an internet storm broke out. Iverson’s defenders are passionate.

You can put Durant in that group.

I loved watching Iverson, but I wouldn’t have wanted my team built around him. We should note he led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals, he was an 11-time All-Star, and he averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals a game. But mostly he is beloved because he had one of the more entertaining styles of play the league has seen — he was maybe six feet tall and was rail thin guard who brought some playground to the HGA with a fearless style of attacking the rim and finishing over and around the trees that populate the NBA’s paint. More than that, Iverson changed the game off the court with his style — he brought hip-hop to the NBA with his look and swagger. (David Stern tried to kill that with the dress code.)

All that said, I don’t think you could have won a title with Iverson at the front of the offense. Efficiency does matter, and it’s something Durant has in droves.

Pound for pound… It’s a fun barstool debate. Isiah Thomas. Jerry West. Bob Cousey. Iverson and others. Have at it in the comments.

PBT Extra: What players looked good at World Cup?


The World Cup is over and Team USA took the gold without much drama, no team got within 21 points. And there was much dancing and rejoicing.

But what players looked good in the tournament?

That’s the topic Jenna Corrado take up in the latest PBT Extra. Derrick Rose stayed healthy but never shook the rust fully off his shot. American bigs looked great (I didn’t mention DeMarcus Cousins in the video but Boogie looked great also.) Then we talk about why Nets fans should like what they saw.

Time for FIBA/NBA to adopt soccer model: Only one major tournament every four years

James Harden

Team USA rolled easily through the World Cup, winning gold and no team getting closer than 21 points to an American squad lacking a lot of the top stars of the NBA.

That brought out some sharp knives from the anti-FIBA crowd — a group usually led by owners who don’t like their players taking risks when they don’t profit, and quality college coaches like John Calipari on the outside of the Mike Krzyzewski/Jerry Colangelo circle of power. Taking up their banner in an aggressive, must-read column was Adrain Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who wrote this in the hours after Team USA was dancing on the podium.

Outside of Derrick Rose using FIBA as a Double-A rehab assignment and some sportswriters beefing up on Marriott points for post-summer vacations, this tournament was a waste of everyone’s time and resources. They used to call it the World Championships. Now it’s the World Cup of Basketball. This is certain: It has outlived its usefulness for the NBA, and owners and executives will be wise to petition FIBA to reshape the future of international basketball.

As one GM told Yahoo Sports, “[Outside of the U.S. team], there’s more talent and more interest from basketball fans in the NBA summer league than this event.”

First off, Marriott points are important. Never underestimate what traveling NBA writers will do for them. Also the statement about American fans caring more about Summer League than the World Cup is fact.

Wojnarowski advocates not sending our best players to international events anymore.

There certainly are some legitimate concerns about the grind FIBA events puts on NBA players — particularly international players. For the USA Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and LeBron James can all stay home and it doesn’t matter, we win easily. The real pressure is on the Pau Gasols and Tony Parkers (and other non-NBA stars) where the country doesn’t have the depth of talent and their chances to do well fall fast when a player begs out.

(I’m not going to get into Wojnarowski’s anti-Kryzyzewski rant, that’s a power play for college coaches that has land mines of biases and agendas on every side. And it is moot to my point.)

But the other side is it’s not just up to NBA owners and GMs — the NBA stars want to do this. Kevin Love reportedly was near tears when he called Colangelo and had to say he would not join Team USA this summer. Yes, part of it is those players get pressure from their shoe companies (Nike still has a lot of sway with Team USA) and other sponsors to step on the biggest international stages. But also some guys really want to represent their country and want that gold medal on their resume — DeMarcus Cousins kept coming back year after year to prove he and his game had matured to the point USA Basketball needed him. And he got it. Giannis Antetokounmpo raved about playing for Greece. We could go on and on here. Who cares if fans back stateside don’t really care about the World Cup, the players and the rest of the world does.

Some want to see a standoff.

But basketball and the NBA are not the first sport or league at this crossroads — soccer has been there. And come out with a plan that works for them.

Soccer has one major tournament every four years (the World Cup) and the qualifying that runs up to it, but the Olympics are an under-22 showcase event. Other international tournaments get spotty participation.

FIBA and the NBA (not to mention the top leagues in Spain, Italy, Turkey, etc…) could come to a deal here. For marketing reasons and the platform here in the USA, it would make more sense to have the Olympics as the showcase event (and expand that to a 24-team tournament) and have the World Cup become the under-22 event. (Yes, I realize FIBA would not love this arrangement, I’m just saying from the American perspective this makes the most sense. Switch the World Cup and Olympics standing and you get the same result.)

Will there still be injuries and risks? Of course. Paul George’s injury was a fluke but the kind that will happen again. It’s happened in soccer: As a Newcastle fan I watched Michael Owen blow out his knee in the 2006 World Cup and knew we’d lost him for the season. It’s part of it.

The idea is to lessen the demand on players to go home and play seemingly every summer for their national teams and wear themselves down. However, once every four years they can don the uniform of Lithuania or Greece or wherever and represent their country with pride. Let the players pick their spots. The idea is finding a balance that doesn’t currently exist. The NBA owners don’t control the players, nor does FIBA and their national teams.

FIBA itself will make finding that balance hard. They benefit from a major tournament on each continent plus a World Cup plus Olympics and they have about the same moral compass as FIFA.

The NBA may have to take unilateral steps first. That’s fine — so long as it is a negotiated deal with the players. The owners and the NBA don’t get to decide if and when the players can represent their country. That’s a negotiated deal.

Still, the model is there to make this work better. It’s just a matter of getting everybody on the bandwagon.