Kurt Helin

Agent says Ben Simmons will not play for Australia in Rio Olympics


The Australians are expected to send plenty of players we know to Rio as they chase a medal at the Olympics: Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum (if healthy), and Aron Baynes.

Just don’t expect Ben Simmons to be part of that group.

The projected top pick in the upcoming June draft (although he could fall to second) out of LSU would play key minutes in Rio — if not start — but his agent Rich Paul told Chris Broussard of ESPN the young star is not going to Brazil.

It’s probably the smart move, Simmons has a lot of work do to become NBA ready, particularly on his jumper. He can get some run at Summer League with whatever team drafts him, but those teams will want to get him to work on conditioning programs, reworking that jumper, and defensive positioning, not waiting for him to get back from Brazil.

Expect to see him in Tokyo in 2020. By then he will be trying to promote his brand, and hopefully be making his mark in the league.

Report: Don’t expect Pau Gasol back with Bulls next season


If you’ve been following the Bulls closely all season, this report isn’t a surprise so much as a confirmation.

While both sides are saying the polite things about wanting to talk to each other this summer, there is little chance that Pau Gasol will be back with the Chicago Bulls next season. Gasol can opt out of the last year of his contract and is expected to do just that. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has the latest report.

The Gasol issue was mostly about fit, specifically on the defensive end. Joakim Noah, for all his flaws and injuries, could still defend fairly well, but he was slow. He didn’t pair well with Gasol, and since Fred Hoiberg was going to start Gasol no matter what (so it seemed) that put Noah on the bench. Where he was unhappy — he also is likely gone as a free agent. A starting lineup of Nikola Mirotic and Noah, with Taj Gibson and Gasol off the bench, might have been the call. However, getting everyone to agree to that would have been the real miracle, and injuries would have made it difficult.

Even at age 36 (which he will be next season) there will be suitors for Gasol because he can put up numbers (although he might be better suited for a sixth man role at this point, something he doesn’t want).

Expect a radically different Bulls roster next season built around Jimmy Butler. That may mean Derrick Rose is on his way out as well, if the Bulls can find the right trade. Either way, expect major shakeups.

Patrick Ewing on Knicks coaching job: “This is a great fit for me”

Associated Press

Patrick Ewing is a big name. He’s also a long time NBA assistant coach who has yet to land a head coaching job. While a number of people he has worked for — including his current head coach Steve Clifford in Charlotte — have touted Ewing, some around the league have him typecast as a big man coach. Ewing is not a big self-promoter, which doesn’t help. Finally, there are rumors that has not had great interviews the couple times he did get a shot (but as anyone who has had a job interview knows, that can take some practice to get good at).

Ewing deserves a shot.

He’d love that shot with the New York Knicks if they make a change, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“You know, this is a great fit for me. I have my number up there (in the Garden rafters). I still live in the area,” Ewing said. “If I get an opportunity for an interview I’d be happy.”

The marketing department in Madison Square Garden would love Ewing to get the job.

However, Phil Jackson and the Knicks were not calling Ewing a couple of years ago when Derek Fisher was hired, and they likely will not call Ewing now. Why? Because he’s not a triangle guy. And Jackson appears wed to proving that the triangle can still thrive in today’s NBA (and prove he’s the smartest guy in the room doing so). That’s why Jackson seriously considering keeping Kurt Rambis in the job, and why you hear names like Brian Shaw getting recycled.

But Jackson needs to think out of his box (or triangle, as it were). Ewing deserves an interview and a serious look. And if not the Knicks, another team should take a long look.

Andrew Goudelock sums up Rockets’ season, inbounds ball off Josh Smith’s rear end

Associated Press

There is an 85 percent chance the Houston Rockets will miss the playoffs this season (they are 1.5 games back of Utah for the final spot with less than a week to play) — and the reason is ugly losses like the one Thursday to the Suns. The Rockets lack of both consistent focus and a commitment to the defensive end has cost them numerous games they should have — and in Thursday’s case needed to — win.

No play may better sum up the Rockets’ disappointing season more than this.

After a Suns basket, Andrew Goudelock wanted to inbound the ball, but none of his teammates were around. Well, except for Josh Smith, who was doubled over grabbing his eye in pain after he had gotten poked there. So Goudelock bounces the ball off Smith’s backside to inbound the ball and goes about his play.

Your 2015-16 Rockets, ladies and gentlemen.

(Hat tip Deadspin and Ananth Pandian)

Kristaps Porzingis singing happy birthday to Robin Lopez? We got that.

Getty Images
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Is there anything Kristaps Porzingis can’t do?

Well, maybe be a professional jockey. But when it was time for some Knicks rookie hazing and Porzingis (along with Jerian Grant) have to sing happy birthday to Robin Lopez. Porzingis gives it his all, you got to give the man that.

Porzingis remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. While he is pushing to try to get back for one of the Knicks final games, I’d be surprised if we see him again this season.