Author: Kurt Helin

Minnesota Timberwolves Media Day

Minnesota’s Ronny Turiaf has hip surgery, done for season


It wasn’t going to be easy for Ronny Turiaff to get minutes this season in Minnesota anyway. Nikola Pekovic was starting and the team rightfully is high on Gorgui Dieng behind him. Turiaf was in the third slot. But with Pekovic out much of the season (and likely not back until after the first of the year) there were minutes to be had.

But Turiaff couldn’t get healthy enough to take advantage. He’s battled a hip issue all season, only 19 minutes total from two games, and now he has undergone surgery to correct the hip problem, the team announced Tuesday.

Look for the Timberwolves to cut Turiaf loose at some point so they can free up a roster spot, reports Jerry Zgoda at the Star Tribune.

Turiaf’s contract — with a $1.6 million salary — expires after this season. (Timberwolves GM) Flip Saunders said this morning the team would waive Turiaf and pay him his remaining owed money “if there’s the right person available.”

That could be just keeping around forward Jeff Adrien, whose current 10-day roster exception spot runs through Friday. Or it could be a guard such as D League sharpshooter Brady Heslip, who was with the Wolves in training camp.

This saddens me as Turiaf is one of my personal favorite players around the league. You have to love the guys that just hustle and look like they are having a good time on the court. After needing heart surgery before he could play a minute after being drafted by the Lakers, it gave him a great perspective on just how fortunate he was that some players like. Not sure if we’ll see him playing in the league again, but it was fun to watch him.

Reports: Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings available, not easy to move

Detroit Pistons Media Day

It’s not exactly a secret that Detroit would love to get out from under Josh Smith’s contract. Stan Van Gundy has made the Andre Drummond/Greg Monroe/Smith trio less toxic on the court (they have played just 174 minutes together and are -2.9 per 100 possessions when paired) but Monroe is unhappy and wants out. Drummond is the future. And Smith has an albatross of a contract to go with his refusal to play to his strengths (although he is taking fewer threes this year).

While we’re at it, point guard Brandon Jennings doesn’t really fit the SVG mold either, so the coach/GM is shopping Smith and Jennings as we move into NBA trade season, reports Howard Beck of the Bleacher Report.

New Pistons president Stan Van Gundy needs to trade one or both of these guys if he wants to preserve the sanity of new Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. Both are firmly on the block, per rival executives.

Would teams really take on Smith and the two years, $27 million he is guaranteed beyond this one? Maybe, but not in a way Van Gundy would want, reports Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

This is the trade talk season. Teams — all 30 of them — try to get a feel for the market value of their guys, both the ones they really want to move and some of the ones they don’t. It’s part of the process. There are only a handful of guys around the league who are genuinely untouchable.

Andre Drummond is one of them. After that everyone on this Pistons roster should have a go bag by the door just in case. Detroit has turned out to be a bigger overhaul project than Van Gundy thought and this could and should mean a house cleaning. It’s just that there is no Goodwill of the NBA, it’s going to be very hard to get someone to take a few of these pieces off he Pistons’ hands.

Report: Chris Mullin doesn’t want to jump in mid-season to coach Kings

New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings

The first word out when Sacramento unexpectedly fired coach Mike Malone — for a mistake of the owner — was that former Jazz head man Tyrone Corbin would hold the interim title for the remainder of the year.

Then the rumor mill cranked up, most of it fueled by what majority owner Vivek Ranadive would want. The first name PBT heard was the up-tempo stylings of George Karl, who has a relationship with current GM Pete D’Alessandro from their time in Denver. However we also heard the guy who really has Ranadive’s ear is Chris Mullin, who is the former Golden State GM and advisor to the Kings. Then came the rumor Mullin could essentially write his own ticket.

Well, whatever ticket he writes is not going to come in the middle of this season, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.

Sam Amick of the USA Today echoed that.

So, Mullin wants to get a feel what it’s like to be a coach but he’s not going to jump in with both feet yet.

Which frankly is smart. Bottom line, you can’t come in after training camp and try to radically change the system using players that don’t fit it. Ask Mike D’Antoni how that goes. Better to sit out this season then jump in with a training camp to put in what you want to do — this applies to both Mullin and Karl.

But it sounds like Mullin gets to make the call on what he wants. Coach? GM? Same role he has now? It’s his call.

DeMar DeRozan conducts postgame interview with Kyle Lowry (VIDEO)

Toronto Raptors play the Orlando Magic
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Toronto picked up a nice win Monday night, beating an always feisty Orlando Magic squad 95-82. Any road win on the second night of a back-to-back is a good one (Toronto beat New York the night before).

DeMar DeRozan, who remains out with a strained groin (he’s not going to be back anytime soon) traveled with the team and was joking around with Kyle Lowry (17 points, 8 assists) after the game, so he got drafted into doing the post-game interview.

Of course, Lowry tries to have a little fun at DeRozan’s expense. This team is just a fun locker room and group. Winning helps that along.

Cavaliers throw five “touchdown” passes for buckets on Hornets (VIDEO)

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers

Insert your own “the Browns could use a new quarterback” joke here.

The Cavaliers were throwing long Monday night, connecting on five touchdown passes for buckets. You can say this much for the Hornets, they actually got back in transition defense on a few of these. It just didn’t matter.

The Cavaliers offense was clicking Monday night — they raced out to a 21-0 lead in the game and the game never felt in doubt after that — and when it is going right you get a lot of these. Usually these come from Kevin Love, the best outlet passer in the game (and when he’s on the court guys leak out knowing they could get an easy bucket at the other end) but Monday night Kyrie Irving and LeBron James got in on the act, too.

It makes the Cavaliers entertaining to watch. And these kind of easy buckets make them harder to beat, too.