Kurt Helin

2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade - 2015 Indy 500

Paul George not thrilled about playing power forward

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The NBA is going small, looking for floor spacing, and with their roster changes this past summer the Indiana Pacers are joining that trend. Which is why coach Frank Vogel is strongly considering Paul George as the Pacers’ starting power forward.

George doesn’t like that idea.

In two separate interviews, George clearly expressed displeasure at the idea. First, look what he told Candice Buckner of the Indy Star.

Here is what he told Sam Amick of the USA Today:

“Um, you know it’s, uh, I was open for – to try it out,” George said via phone while promoting his place on the cover of the NBA 2K16 mobile app. “It’s definitely a change. It’s something new. We’ll see how it goes. As the season goes, it might be better for me to just be at my regular position. But I told them I was open to the situation and (we’ll) see where it goes.”

I hope George does keep an open mind, because I think this could be good for him and the Pacers.

George is strong and physical enough to defend most of the fours in the East (it’s the West where the four is overloaded with talent), and on offense is ability to spread the floor with his shot will open things up for a Pacers offense that wants to play more up tempo.

Look at the top teams in the NBA — particularly the last two champions in San Antonio and Golden State — and what you see is versatility. They can go small, they can go larger, they can adjust to attack the weaknesses of their opponents (particularly in the playoffs). The Pacers can move that way, but it requires George being okay with playing some four.

Report: World Peace agrees to deal with Lakers

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All summer long Metta World Peace has been working out at the Lakers facility, and he formed a bond with second-year player (but a rookie in practice) Julius Randle. The Lakers watched the workouts and saw World-Peace the mentor — as strange as that sounds. What matters is that Randle was listening to him.

So, as had been long rumored, the Lakers are giving World Peace a one-year deal and a chance to make the team, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent forward Metta World Peace has reached agreement on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

World Peace is expected to make the roster and play a role as a small forward off the bench, and a veteran extension of coach Byron Scott in the young Lakers locker room.

I would hold off on the assumption he makes the roster, although he certainly has a chance. The Lakers have some decisions to make. They have 12 guaranteed contracts on the books right now (although in theory they could buy out someone like Robert Sacre), and can only carry 15. The Lakers signed veteran Brazilian point guard Marcelo Huertas‘ to a non-guaranteed deal, but I’d expect him to make the cut. If Huertas and MWP make the roster, the Lakers have one roster spot for young talents Jabari Brown, Tarik Black, Michael Frazier and Jonathan Holmes to fight over (again, unless there is a buyout of an existing deal).

If MWP makes the roster, Lakers fans should not expect quality production out of him — there was a reason he’s been out of the league for more than a season. The Knicks waived him in 2014 because he isn’t near the same defender he once was, and his offensive game has slipped (he shot just 31 percent from three for them). Last season he played in Italy where he averaged 13.3 points a game, but at age 35 he’s not bouncing back to have NBA rotation player level contributions.

But that’s not why the Lakers want him. He seems to have the ear of Randle.

Why that requires a roster spot, and he can’t be brought in as an assistant coach or consultant I don’t get. Yes, listening to players is different from a coach, but that’s not the relationship Randle and World Peace have formed, so it doesn’t matter the title for MWP now?

The rebuilding Lakers keep stocking up on veterans. It’s an interesting mix.

Doc Rivers: Jordan chose “substance and character”

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You can view this as more fuel on the fire for Nov. 11.

Or, a continuing playground spat between kindergarteners.

The reality is it’s a little of both.

In case you forgot, Nov. 11 is when DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers stop in Dallas to face the Mavericks. You know what happened this summer, Jordan said he was going to Dallas then, days later, had second thoughts and right before the deadline and decided to stay with the Clippers. That has led to verbal slings and arrows being shot between the two franchises all summer. Chandler Parsons says Jordan wasn’t ready to be a franchise player. Cuban wanted nothing to do with Jordan’s twitter apology. Doc Rivers said he thought Cuban should have handled things more maturely, and on Wednesday Cuban said Rivers’ “professional life was over if he didn’t get DJ.”

Speaking to Dan Woikie of the Orange County Register, Rivers fired back at Cuban.

“I’ll say this. I’m so grateful to work for a team owned by Steve Ballmer, someone who stands for character and substance and who is so loyal,” Rivers said. “He is someone who I know will stand with me, even when things aren’t always going our way. I think what happened with D.J. was he decided to choose substance and character over smoke and mirrors.”

So I guess we’re not moving on from this spat yet, even though every principle involved says they have moved on. It’s like dealing with my elementary school age daughters.

I will add this.

Ballmer the owner still is going through a tough learning curve, and everything isn’t puppies and rainbows in Clippers camp. Cuban may be a shoot-from-the-hip owner, but he is one of the best in the NBA — when Cuban took over the Mavericks they made Donald Sterling’s Clippers look big spending and well run. Cuban spent money and turned the Mavericks around into a first-class organization and one of the stronger franchises in the NBA. It’s a place players want to go, and they won a title. You don’t have to like Cuban’s style, but he’s been good for the Mavericks. And I would argue very good for the league.

I’d like to think this will be the last of the fight, but my guess is it continues until Nov. 11.

Paul George likely starting power forward for Pacers

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It’s been talked about all summer — Indiana going small and playing Paul George heavy minutes at the power forward spot. There’s a lot to like about that idea in an NBA going smaller.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel seems to like it — so much so he all but projected George as the starter at the four, when speaking to the fantastic Candice Buckner of the Indy Star.

“An idea on paper is to have a starting lineup of George Hill, Monta Ellis, C.J. Miles, Paul George and Ian Mahinmi,” said Vogel.

He thinks George is up to it.

I think this would be a smart move by the Pacers.

George, even coming off his horrific leg injury, is big and strong enough to defend the four against most of the guys in the East — especially in a league trending smaller (the West with guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. George can be a primary defender against most of the fours in the East, such as Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James (against the West, where Anthony Davis, Blake Griffi,k. Offensively George’s shooting would help create better spacing, and his ability to drive past slower-footed defenders. This would let the Pacers bring Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Myles Turner off the bench.

My only question with that starting five is if the Pacers’ would have enough defense. But it would be worth some extended minutes to see if it works.

Nuggets’ Jusuf Nurkic to miss start of training camp

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When Jusuf Nurkic has surgery on his patella tendon back in May, the hope was he would be healthy and back right around the start of training camp. Not going to happen, at least not yet, according to the Nuggets GM, as reported by Christopher Dempsey at the Denver Post.

Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic will not be ready for the start of training camp as he continues to rehab his left knee, general manager Tim Connelly said Wednesday… Nurkic has begun some on-court activity, Connelly said. But asked if Nurkic would be ready for the regular -season opener, he reiterated he would not put a timetable on his return to full action.

Denver is right to take their time and think about the long term, because Nurkic could be part of the part of the long term in Denver, along with Emanuel Mudiay.

Nurkic is the projected starting center for the Nuggets, and they could use him on the court. He took over the starting role in Denver last season after the Timofey Mozgov trade and he showed a lot of promise. While he averaged just 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, his per-minute numbers showed potential.

More importantly, he brought solid defense and the Nuggets were 10.6 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor.

He should improve this season and beyond, which is why the Nuggets should think long term. In the short-term, if Nurkic can’t go, look for new Nuggets coach Mike Malone to go small (he’s already said he wants this team to play faster). He can start J.J. Hickson at the five and Kenneth Faried at the four, and hope that can provide enough defense to get some wins.

At least until Nurkic gets back, which shouldn’t be many if any games.