Author: Kurt Helin

tony wroten

Sixers Tony Wroten putting on show at Seattle pro-am (VIDEO)


Usually when you put the words “highlights” and “Seattle pro-am” together you think Jamal Crawford. Or maybe Nate Robinson returning home for a night.

Well how about the Sixers’ Tony Wroten? He’s been putting on a show worth checking out, showing off his handles and improved passing skills. He’s destroying guys.

Hat tip to

World Cup preview: No Durant, no problem USA still one of two teams with legit shot to win gold

Team USA Showcase

Think about at the Team USA wins this summer: By 17 points over the world’s 10th ranked team Brazil; by 43 over the Dominican Republic (world No. 26); by 26 over Puerto Rico (world No. 17); then by 30 over the world’s 13th ranked team Slovenia.

So far the Americans have outscored their opponents by 35.4 points per 100 possessions (via John Schuhmann of A ridiculous number.

Team USA has not seriously been challenged — and most of the FIBA World Cup will look very much like that.

So much of the pre-tournament focus has been on who is not there for the Americans. No Kevin Durant. Or Paul George. And all that came after Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge and a host of others said no. Those are big time talents.

Doesn’t matter — the USA is so deep with guys who can ball that coach Mike Krzyzewski can still throw out a long, athletic, sharp-shooting team that will play pressure defense, run, be active, and knock down threes and flat-out overwhelm nearly every opponent. Just as they have pretty much everyone since Team USA last lost a game back in 2006.

Team USA is still loaded — Anthony Davis, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Mason Plumlee and Andre Drummond. No other team in the world can match that depth. Not even close The USA’s starters (Irving, Curry, Harden, Faried, Davis) have been fantastic at both ends of the floor in the tune up games (almost doubling the score on its opponents).

The obvious strength of Team USA is the guard spot — Irving and Curry have scored very efficiently, while Harden is the team’s leading scorer so far. Then off the bench the bring the slashing athleticism of Rose and more sharp shooting with Thompson. As for all that size up front, it lets Coach K almost hockey substitute them every couple of minutes to keep the legs fresh and the energy up for their high-intensity style of play.

That group will overwhelm everyone the USA faces when it starts group play Saturday.

First up is Finland, ranked 39th in the world (a team chosen as a wild card over better, more deserving teams because Finland travel well sand FIBA wanted the cash from ticket sales), followed Sunday by a Turkish team that is well behind the USA and is likely second best in Group C. After that it is New Zealand, a Dominican Republic team that the USA already destroyed, then the Ukraine. None of those teams are a threat to a USA squad that gives even half effort (and they will as they try to find themselves).

After group play teams are seeded for a single elimination tournament and again Team USA gets a soft touch — Groups C and D fill out half the bracket and the best team is Lithuania, ranked fourth in the world and they just lost starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis due to a dislocated shoulder. Lithuania is led by the NBA’s Jonas Valanciunas and Dontas Motiejunas, both of whom are nice bigs but a couple of steps behind the USA’s front line. That’s it. No other real threats. The USA has a fairly easy path to the title game.

There is only one real threat to Team USA — Spain. And those two would not meet until said gold medal game if Spain makes it. Playing at home they probably will, but their side of the bracket will have reigning European champion France (without Tony Parker), Brazil, Argentina and Greece. Spain should advance but they have the harder road.

Spain boasts three quality NBA bigs — Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka — plus a back court of Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez. They have fallen to Team USA the last two Olympic gold medal games but played the USA close (Spain was right in it in 2012 in London until Marc Gasol had to leave with foul trouble). On their home court in front of their home fans foul trouble is not going to be an issue for Spain.

Spain poses a legitimate threat, which is why there are four centers on the NBA roster — to match up better with that size. More than that the USA will count on its athleticism and pressure to force mistakes and to make Spain uncomfortable in their offense. The USA will need Curry, Thompson and everyone else to hit their

But that’s it. The only real threat to the USA should be Spain.

It doesn’t matter who didn’t show up for America, the guys who did can flat-out ball and fit the USA’s aggressive, up-tempo style. The USA is rightfully still a gold medal favorite.

It doesn’t matter who showed up, so long as the guys that did are ready to play.

And Team USA looks ready.

Report: Leandro Barbosa reaches deal with Warriors

Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns

The Golden State Warriors have Stephen Curry starting at the point guard spot, the best shooter in the game today and a guy with underrated handles and vision. They leaned too heavily on him last season so for depth they brought in a quality backup in Shaun Livingston.

Apparently not satisfied and looking to add a little more depth at the point guard spot, the Warriors are about to reach a deal with speedy Brazilian Leandro Barbosa, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

With the Miami Heat also in pursuit, Golden State has secured a commitment from Barbosa on a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, according to NBA front-office source.

At the league minimum this is a decent signing (we don’t know what the guarantee situation here is if the Warriors want to part ways).

Warriors fans, if you want to see what you’re getting watch Brazil at the World Cup, where Barbosa plays a big role in their guard rotation. That’s a pretty good Brazilian team that has a chance to medal (but that the USA beat by 17 in a game where the Americans didn’t play that well).

Near the end of last season Barbosa had found a comfort zone as part of a pretty good bench unit in Phoenix (until he broke his hand anyway). Barbosa is very quick and uses that to get to the rim (in transition or the half court) where he knows how to finish. He can hit a few midrange pull ups but generally isn’t much of a shooter.

He’s limited in how he’s going to help an NBA team other than provide solid veteran depth at the point guard spot. He’s a guy you can give 12-15 minutes to when needed and he’ll play well enough.

Miami had been in the running but moved on and signed Shannon Brown instead.

Donald Sterling doesn’t appeal, basically throws in towel on owning Clippers

Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

It was already all but over — no judge was ever going to undo the $2 billion sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer once the sale was enacted.

But nobody expected Donald Sterling to go quietly, either.

He’s not — he has multiple lawsuits still pending against the NBA — but he is not going to continue his legal quest to regain control of the Clippers. He did not appeal to the California Supreme Court to block the sale, reports Michael Mann at Sports Illustrated.

In a development that makes Donald Sterling reacquiring the Los Angeles Clippers virtually impossible, court records indicate that Sterling failed to petition the California Supreme Court for review by Monday’s deadline. The failure means that Sterling has run out of legal options in California to force former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to return the franchise to him.

Under California law, Sterling had 10 business days from Aug. 13 – the date an intermediate appellate court summarily rejected Sterling’s two petitions for the $2 billion sale of the Clippers be halted or reversed — to petition the California Supreme Court with the same request. It would have been a long shot request, to be sure, but Sterling was entitled to give it a try.

It would have been very Sterling to have tried, but he has apparently thrown in the towel on owning the Clippers again. His legal appeal to the appellate court was for a “stay” to block the sale — not to undo the sale — and that court said there was nothing to stay because the sale had already gone through. The Supreme Court would not have ruled differently.

All Donald’s other legal moves basically are just to get money from the NBA — which is kind of futile because as part of the sale to Ballmer Shelly Sterling (Donald’s wife of 59 years) indemnified the NBA against any damages from Donald Sterling lawsuits. Put simply, any money awarded by a judge has to be paid out of the proceeds of the sale not from the NBA itself — he has to pay himself any legal winnings. And him winning these cases are long shot anyway.

What Donald likely will do is try to make life difficult and embarrassing for the NBA. That is really all he has left. And he has the money and attorneys to do it. It’s the move of a bitter old man, but if the shoe fits…

Fortunately for the Clippers, the days of the Donald Sterling’s ownership are gone. (Shelly Sterling hanging around the fringes of the team was the price for that.)

Iman Shumpert excited to play in triangle offense because he won’t just have to stand in the corner

Miami Heat v New York Knicks

When in Atlanta, coach Mike Woodson was rightly criticized for just running too much “iso Joe” offense for Joe Johnson. In New York it was better, if only because injuries forced him to put Carmelo Anthony at the four (which worked better) but one would not use the word “unpredictable” when describing the Knicks offense.

Now Derek Fisher (as the disciple of Phil Jackson) is bringing the triangle offense to New York. Anthony can fit well in that offense if he moves the ball.

Iman Shumpert is pumped the offense is coming to New York because it will give him something to do, he told

“The way it’s set up, you can start three guards, it really doesn’t matter. Everybody’s going to get touches, everybody gets opportunities to cut,” Shumpert said of the triangle offense. “It’s constant action going on. So I think that I’ll be able to capitalize on that and I’ll be able to use my athleticism a lot more than standing in the corner.

“I know this year in the offense I will have a lot more opportunities to cut and get to the basket,” he added. “I just want to work on the strength of my leg. Been working on that and being able to pull up off one or two dribbles [and working] on corner [3-pointers] and open 3s.”

Shumpert has spent this off-season working hard to recovering from surgery on his left knee. He should be good to go full speed when the season starts.

The triangle offense is all about spacing and motion — If being run properly (as Tex Winter envisioned) it has constant ball movement and guys cutting and moving off the ball. In the offense you can lob into the post (think Shaq with the Lakers) or run pick-and-rolls — and you should run in transition — but when those actions happen other actions keep spacing on the floor.

Knicks fans will start to see the offense evolve over the course of the season — your actions in the offense is predicated on how the defense responds to an action, it takes time for all the players to get on the same page, making the same reads. There will be rough patches.

But it’s going to be better for the Knicks long term. We know it can work. It just needs total buy in.

Sounds like Shumpert is in.