Author: Kurt Helin

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose after first back-to-back in years: “I’m feeling good right now”


Predicting how Derrick Rose’s knees will respond come December or the playoffs based on the sample of a couple Team USA scrimmages or one World Cup back-to-back is exactly why the phrase “small sample size theater” was invented. We don’t have nearly enough information yet. We don’t know.

All we really know is he’s shown flashes of his vintage self, then there was Sunday’s game against Turkey — Rose’s first back-to-back since about Thanksgiving — and he wasn’t as aggressive or explosive. Too early to draw broad conclusions from either one of those yet, but they are out there.

Of course, Rose says he’s fine. What else would you expect? Here are the latest Rose quotes via Marc Stein of ESPN direct from Spain.

“I’m just trying to put that behind me,” Rose said of any trepidation he’s feeling as he ramps up his comeback from the two devastating injuries that limited him to 10 games over the past two seasons with the Bulls.

“I know the questions are going to come and they’re going to be there the whole year. So I can’t get tired of it. I’m feeling good right now. Just trying to get in better shape, get in better condition, so that when I do need to score the ball, then it’ll be there.”

If Rose thinks he’s sick of answering these questions now, wait until January when they keep coming in every city on every road trip (not to mention at the United Center).

There is a mental side here — talk to any athlete in any sport coming back from a serious leg injury (or injuries) and he/she will say that really trusting that leg and just reacting without hesitation takes a little time. But there are physical concerns too, legitimate ones.

The USA starting Tuesday has three games in three days — New Zealand, Dominican Republic, Ukraine — which is even a bigger test for Rose’s knee. These should be easy wins for the USA, does Rose get a night off?

But at the end of the day for Bulls (and Rose) fans, all you really want out of the World Cup is for Rose to shake off the rust, work through some of the natural pain and  issues of a return, then just get back in the game ready to hit the ground running when camp opens.

Frankly, if you’re a fan of basketball you should be rooting for that — the NBA is far more fun to watch when vintage Rose is doing his thing. (Cavaliers fans, you can have an out here.)

Andre Iguodala on Kevin Durant and Under Armour: ” I had a better shot at Halle Berry”

Halle Berry

Under Armour wants to get a foothold in the baskeball shoe market — they have a rising star in Stephen Curry under contract, plus some other guys like Kemba Walker and Brandon Jennings. But they swung for the fences this summer offering Kevin Durant at least $265 million over 10 years, which Nike has matched (sort of, it’s a modified offer) to keep KD with the swoosh.

Under Armour endorser Kent Bazemore tried to shoot out a tweet to KD about his choice, but Nike guy and Golden State Warrior Andre Iguodala shot him down.


I think we need to ask if Iguodala really has a shot here, first. Halle Berry is still married and living most of the time in France with her husband, at least according to my cursory Web search on this topic. So that’s a couple big strikes against Iguodala. But she did marry an athlete before, former baseball star David Justice (she also dated Heavy D and Wesley Snipes, among others).

I don’t know that KD was all that far from going to Under Armour. Sure, what he and Roc Nation Sports really wanted (and got) was more money out of Nike but to continue the KD line. They got it. Well played. But if Nike hadn’t decided to match, would KD have really jumped?

It’s moot now. Kind of like Iguodala and Berry, I suspect.

(Hat tip to Eye on Basketball.)

Mason Plumlee wants you to know Duke, Nike had nothing to do with him making Team USA

Finland v USA

Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee did not expect to be in Spain right now with Team USA. He was invited to the Las Vegas training camp as part of the USA Select team — the group of young players that the big guns go against. Basically young sparring partners.

But he impressed and more importantly he fit as a role player — other players described his style as “easy to play with.” DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are more athletic and talented (and they are playing more) but Plumlee just kept making the right plays and providing needed size. Mike Krzyzewski had Plumlee for four years at Duke and told PBT he was surprised by his level of play.

In the end Plumlee made the 12-man roster while guys like Kyle Korver and Damian Lillard did not. Team USA went with four centers on the roster.

That led to conspiracy theories in some corners of the Internet. One, that he went to Duke and that’s why he (and Kyrie Irving) made the roster over Lillard. Second, Nike has a lot of influence over Team USA and Plumlee is a Nike guy while Lillard is an Adidas star.

A journalist in Spain asked Plumlee about those questions and he politely shot them down reports Ball in Europe (via Eye on Basketball):

“I’m very proud that I went to Duke and I’m very proud that I wear Nike, and that has nothing to do with it,” Plumlee said, via Ball in Europe. “If you were at our practices and our training camp, anybody that was there, they would see why I made the team.”

My problem with conspiracy theories are that in some corners of the Internet people find a conspiracy in the Pope always being Catholic. The Web can be a place where logic and reason don’t always find a foothold. But the whispers about Plumlee and played into long-running conspiracies that existed already — and I agree Nike has had real influence with Team USA over the years.

The problem here is that Plumlee fits. He’s a legitimate choice. He’s the guy at the end of the bench — he’s played just 16 minutes through two games — but he has a place. When it came time to assemble the roster Coach K had his rotation bigs set (Cousins is getting good run off the bench) but he was looking for specialists to round out the roster. Looking ahead to teams like Lithuania and Spain with NBA-caliber front lines that stand in the USA’s path, Coach K opted for size. There’s a real logic to that. It fits.

But logic and conspiracy theories rarely go hand-in-hand. So put on your tinfoil hat and think what you want of Plumlee. He doesn’t care, he’s in Spain and wearing the uniform.

Report: Rajon Rondo wants to start season with Celtics, see how things unfold

Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics

The reports that came out last week that Rajon Rondo told the Boston Celtics he wanted out and to trade him was oddly timed — you demand trades near the deadline or at the start of the summer when teams have money to spend. By August rosters are largely locked in and big deals are hard to swing (Kevin Love not withstanding, but that had been in the works all summer). Plus you don’t have much leverage when the Celtics just drafted another point guard (Marcus Smart). Then, of course, Rondo’s people denied there was a trade request.

Either way, Celtics GM Danny Ainge is in a position with options — right now he can try to bring in another star to play alongside Rondo if that kind of deal comes up (they tried to get in the Love sweepstakes), or he can trade Rondo if the right option comes along. He just has to make his call by the trade deadline (Rondo will be a free agent next summer).

All that combined makes the report Rondo wants to start the season in Boston make the most sense, a report that comes via A. Sherrod Blakely of

Multiple league sources have repeatedly said that Rondo wants to start the season in Boston and see where things go from there. A similar sentiment has trickled out of Celtics camp, as well.

Rondo is hopeful that the team Danny Ainge is assembling around him is better than most anticipate, that they can be this season’s feel-good story not only in the East but throughout the NBA.

I’m not sure these Celtics are a surprise, unless Jeff Green (finally) or Kelly Olynyk make huge leaps. That said those two guys and players like Jared Sullinger and Smart are good trade assets if the Celtics can find someone to bring in to pair with Rondo (the Celtics have picks, too).

If not, Ainge can be patient and see what trade options come up at the deadline.

Rondo can start the season in Boston, show he is fully healthy after the ACL injury and show he is a real leader and elite point guard, then see who comes after him at the deadline.

Or, next summer he could just re-sign in Boston. Nothing is set in stone.

Report: Clippers close to deal with Chris Douglas-Roberts

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Gary Neal

Doc Rivers is rounding out his Clippers roster. He’s bringing back Hedo Turkoglu to have a little size and shooting (44 percent from three with the team last year), plus Chris Paul said the Clippers need consistency to take the next step and a veteran like Turkoglu helps provide that.

The Clips also would like to land Ray Allen, but he has options… if he even wants to play next season.

Now comes word they also may bring back Chris Douglas-Roberts.

From Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

The team is also close to an agreement with free-agent Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Douglas-Roberts, a 6-foot-7 wing player, spent last season with Charlotte, averaging 6.9 points in 49 games. In four playoff games against Miami, Douglas-Roberts averaged 9.5 points in 17.5 minutes per game. Douglas-Roberts would make $1.06 million on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

On a minimum deal for wing depth, this would be a solid get. Douglas-Roberts came into the NBA in desperate need of a jump shot but last season in Charlotte more than half his shots came from three and he hit a good 38 percent of them (he shot well from the corners).

Douglas-Roberts got a fair amount of run the second half of the season in Charlotte when injuries (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeff Taylor) forced him into the rotation — and CDR was solid. His effort and threes made him a fan favorite. He also defends well, which every team could use, certainly the Clippers.

The Clippers will start Matt Barnes at the three but need some bodies there, someone to get minutes besides Reggie Bullock. CDR would be a quality addition, especially at the minimum.