Kurt Helin

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets- Game Five

Dirk Nowitzki finding early groove playing for Germany

4 Comments

Much to the delight of Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki has taken some summers off from the German national team recently. But not this summer, the EuroBasket championships for that continent — and 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament — starts Sept. 5, and Nowitzki is trying to get his nation to the big Carnival in Brazil.

There could be an advantage with that — he may begin the NBA season in a groove. He looked good for Germany against Poland recently — 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds, all in 23 minutes. It’s common for players to come out of these tournaments and roll into the season sharper than if they had just been working out at a gym.

Why did Nowitzki decide to suit up? The late start and that some of the games were in Germany, he told Mavs.com.

“You know, if it had been in July or early August, then I think there would have been no chance,” Nowitzki explained after making the decision to return to international play in June. “That would have meant that I would have had to practice right through and not even take some time off. But this way it’s, like I said, in September. I’m usually here (in Dallas), playing with the guys anyways in five-on-five, so that really was the big key for me. That way, all month of May, I was traveling some, and June was off. I got some family time in…

“You know, to me, it was the big deal that the tournament, or at least the first round, is in Germany,” Nowitzki confessed. “I think I’ve never had a home European championship or world championship at home. This means a lot to our country and to the basketball world in our country. Berlin is an amazing basketball city already over the last 10, 15 or 20 years, so this should be fun. We have a murderous group with a lot of great countries, but we’re going to give it our best and see what happens. But at 37, obviously, that’s not easy. I think in the first round we’ve got like five games in six days.”

Germany is in the group of death — Spain, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, and Iceland. Only the top four from that group advance to the knockout stage. We can safely say that Iceland is hosed here. Germany is a good team — Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder is on it — but they are likely fifth best in a group, so they will need an upset of Turkey or Italy (Spain and Serbia likely advance).

Nowitzki is capable of delivering that.

But you know Cuban hates to see the extra miles on his star’s legs before the season even starts.

It’s official: Hornets, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist reach $52 million contract extension

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Markieff Morris, P.J. Tucker
6 Comments

It’s a head-turning number — $52 million for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. A good player, a player on the rise, but also a player with plenty of question marks. In the NBA of three years ago, $13 million a year for that would be a terrible move by the Charlotte Hornets.

But times change quickly. In the new normal of an NBA about to be flooded with television money, this is a good gamble by the team.

We told you a four-year, $52 million extension was coming for Kidd-Gilchrist and on Wednesday morning the Hornets made the deal official.

“Michael is a huge part of what we are trying to build here in Charlotte,” Hornets GM Rich Cho said in a released statement. “He has dedicated himself to improving and expanding his game. Michael continues to develop on both ends of the court and has become a key piece of our team. We are thrilled that he is a Charlotte Hornet.”

What we know MKG brings is elite defense — both on-ball and help. He is the guy assigned to the opponent’s best perimeter player every game. Kidd-Gilchrist is also a good rebounder for his position, and he plays with an infectious, relentless energy. He’s simply fun to watch because of it.

The question has always been his raw offense. He’s okay if he has driving lanes and can get to the rim (and in transition), but if he has to shoot a jumper things got ugly. That said, he’s improving, working last summer with then assistant coach Mark Price to rework his form. Last season he shot 50 percent last season between 10 and 16 feet. There’s still a long way to go (he didn’t even attempt a three last season), but there have been strides.

The Hornets are betting on bigger, better strides to come — and if he made those strides this season and then hit the market as a restricted free agent next July, the Hornets would have paid more. MKG gets some financial security out of the deal.

This size deal is the NBA’s new normal. Get used to it.

 

 

Report: Miami still open to trading Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers, but can’t find partner

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat
24 Comments

There are rarely NBA trades in late August or September, and the ones that do happen can best be described as a minor shuffling of contracts.

Which means Heat fans should expect to see Chris Andersen and Mario Chalmers in uniform when the Heat open training camp next month. Both have long been part of trade rumors, and both have yet to be moved as there isn’t much of a market.

Expect that to continue as Heat training camp opens, reports Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald.

Though there is no absolute edict from owner Micky Arison to trim payroll (and that’s beyond Miami’s control to a large extent anyway), we’re told the Heat still would prefer to lower its looming tax bill, which would be around $23 million if Miami closes the upcoming season with this current roster.

Miami remains willing to dealing Chris Andersen (due $5 million) but hasn’t found much of a market for him, according to an NBA official who has been in contact with the Heat… The Heat expects to bring Mario Chalmers to training camp (as opposed to trading him first) but hasn’t ruled out trading him in October or beyond if it can find a taker, something it hasn’t been able to do to this point.

I wonder how big a mandate lowering the tax bill actually will be. Lowering those payments has been a concern for Arison in the past (it was one thing that ticked LeBron James off) and it should be more so now. Miami faces the repeater tax this season, which would mean for every dollar over the tax line ($84.7 million) they would pay $2.50 instead of $1.50. (That’s just for the first $5 million over the line, the penalties get harsher from there.) If the Heat don’t think they have a good shot to knock Cleveland off the top of the mountain, why pay that extra cash?

Chalmers has been on the trade block since roughly Grover Cleveland’s presidency and at some point another team will need a point guard and will take him on. Probably.

Andersen couldn’t care less if the Heat are shopping him. Still, with bigs always in demand around the league, the Heat will be patient and expect teams will come calling to take on the Birdman’s $5 million deal.

Watch Russell Westbrook rock out at a Taylor Swift concert

Spike TV's "Guys Choice 2015" - Arrivals
9 Comments

T SWIFT …WAS ROCKINNNN LAST NIGHT!! …. @taylorswift

A video posted by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on

Turns out Jimmy Butler is not the only NBA star who loves him some Taylor Swift.

Add Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook to the list — he was rockin’ out to her Tuesday night.

We can also add Kobe Bryant to the list — he came out on stage in Los Angeles and presented her with one of those cheesy sellout banners that hang in arenas (I’m not a fan of those banners on principle).

There are probably others, but that’s enough for now.

Happy Birthday James Harden, we’ve got his top 10 of 2014-15 (VIDEO)

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpty1ywuwmmuyndc2mta2ndq2zduwyjrlmzvkmtqwmjg3
3 Comments

What do you buy James Harden for his birthday? I’m guessing beard moisturizer.

Happy 26th birthday to the Beard, who likely will celebrate with Khloe Kardashian somewhere expensive, trailed by paparazzi. We’re going to celebrate more quietly (and at less cost) here at PBT looking back at Harden’s best plays of last season.