Author: Kurt Helin

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant says elite players like LeBron, himself are underpaid. He’s right.


Kobe Bryant is right.

But it’s also an argument that’s hard to win.

I’ve heard estimates from people around the Lakers that Kobe likely generates $70 million for the team when you consider the seats and suites he fills, with the sponsors that come to the Lakers because they want to be associated with him and the team he plays for. Yet he takes a lot of grief for the two-year $48.5 million contract extension he signed.

Kobe doesn’t think that salary cap system limiting max contracts is fair. He told that to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard (who did the big cover story profile of Kobe for SI).

He also doesn’t think it’s fair players are pressured to take less so the team can win.

My thoughts.

• Kobe’s right, but you can’t win the argument, at least not with most fans. The problem is we can’t relate to the money involved — Kobe has made nearly $280 million over his career in salary alone, and that’s before this deal (and not counting endorsements, shoe deals, etc). You can be intellectually right that he doesn’t make even half of what he brings in to the organization, but you run into the “how much does a policeman make?” argument. Kobe plays a game — very well over his career, but it’s a game. Entertainers are overpaid in general in our society, maybe not in comparison to what they bring in, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for NBA players complaining about the size of their paychecks.

• Kobe’s contract still hamstrings the Lakers the next couple years. Lakers defenders don’t want to admit it, but it does. The Lakers struggle to attract top free agents like Carmelo Anthony because even if they sign him to a max deal they would have little other ability to upgrade the roster. Is it fair to Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan they had to take late career paycuts to help their team attract talent? No. But they did and those teams are much the better for it.

It’s done: Kevin Love traded to Cavaliers, Andrew Wiggins headed to Minnesota in three-team deal

Kevin Love

We’ve known this was coming, now the waiting is over.

It didn’t take long on the first day Andrew Wiggins could be traded for the deal to go down — he is headed to Minnesota as part of a three-team trade that forms a super team in Cleveland with Kevin Love joining LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the particulars:

Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia have completed NBA trade call, source tells Yahoo. Kevin Love has joined LeBron James with the Cavs.

Minnesota’s Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and Miami’s 2015 first-round pick remains the package to Philadelphia for Thaddeus Young.

With permission of Wolves and NBA, Dan Gilbert and Kevin Love met in Las Vegas during July summer league, sources tell Yahoo Sports.

That’s how long this has been in the works.

Here’s how the trade breaks down:

Cleveland gets: Kevin Love

Minnesota gets: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, a trade exception

Philadelphia gets: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved, a 2015 first round pick (Miami’s, top 10 protected).

The obvious winner here is Cleveland, they become an instant title contender. They need to re-sign Love next summer, but it’s hard to see him bolting. It is a lot of new pieces to fit together for coach David Blatt — who is an NBA rookie, but has decades of experience as the head man overseas with great success. And in the case of Love and Irving, neither has a moment of playoff experience. Still, with the additions of Mike Miller and Shawn Marion to go with some solid young players like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, the only questions  seem to be ones of exactly when the Cavs can get it together, and whether it will be in time to win them a title in their very first season.

Minnesota does pretty well for itself, about as well as can be expected when being forced to trade a superstar. Sure, it’s rebuilding, but the hardest part of rebuilding is getting the elite star player and Minnesota may have that in Wiggins. Maybe he doesn’t pan out to be super-elite, but he’ll be a quality NBA player to build with and to pair with a young core of Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Zach LaVine, Chase Budinger, and now Young. That’s not a playoff team in the West, but it’s not bad and has a lot of room for potential.

Philadelphia continues its plan of not being good now, but having a lot of picks that could turn into talent that’s NBA-ready in the not-too-distant future. Because the Sixers are in an admitted start-from-scratch rebuild, don’t be shocked if Mbah a Moute and/or Shved get flipped again down the line. As for the pick, they likely get to use it next year because while Miami took a step backward after losing LeBron in free agency, the Heat are still probably a playoff team in the East, and not at all likely to finish the season as one of the league’s bottom 10 teams.

Steve Nash called Kobe Bryant a “mother f****** a******” but in a good way

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Lakers

Soon there is going to be a documentary  on Showtime about Kobe Bryant and his comeback this season, one that will undoubtedly play to the mythology of Kobe and his toughness, his determination, his single-mindedness. It promises to be interesting.

Kobe and his comeback also are the cover story this week in Sports Illustrated, a brilliant feature by one of the very best NBA writers, Chris Ballard. A story with a lot of great quotes and anecdotes.

However this one may be the best one, tying the documentary into it. Gotham Chopra, the director of the documentary, asked a lot of players to describe Kobe in three words. (Hat tip to Business Insider/Yahoo.)

“After each interview Kobe would text Chopra, eager to hear what people said. Most answered with some variation of ‘the ultimate competitor’ or ‘killer instinct.’ But when Chopra asked Steve Nash, he said something different. After thinking for a moment, Nash answered, slowly, in three beats: ‘Mother … f****** … a******.’

“Kobe thought this was awesome.”


He is. In a good way (most of the time). That attitude is part of what made Kobe who he is. His work ethic, his drive to prove himself the ultimate alpha male. Of course he loved that. And Nash knew it.

Of course, that attitude combined with his large contract, is going to make it hard to attract any major free agents in the next couple years. It has always been a double edged sword for Kobe. But he doesn’t have five rings and doesn’t go down as one of the game’s all-time greats without it.

Stephen Curry put on a show against Puerto Rico (VIDEO)

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry was putting on a scoring exhibition against  Puerto Rico Friday night at Madison Square Garden — 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He led Team USA to an easy win.

Curry was always a lock to make the roster (and he did) but he was getting to the rim, raining threes, making flashy passes and generally looking like the elite player he is.

Along with Anthony Davis, Curry could have a breakout World Cup — his game is well suited to international ball. He can shoot from crazy range, he’s got handles and he makes smart decisions with the ball. He tries on defense (which is a start). He could have a few games where he puts up monster numbers.

USA Basketball announces 12 man roster for World Cup; Parsons, Hayward, Lillard, Korver cut

Puerto Rico v United States

The roster is set and Mike Krzyzewski decided to go with three big men.

In the late hours after Team USA dismantled Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden, USA Basketball announced the 12 man roster headed to Spain for the World Cup. That team is:

Guards: Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson.

Forwards/centers: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Mason Plumlee.

That means the last set of roster cuts were Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Damian Lillard. (Bradley Beal and John Wall had been cut previously.)

Coach K went with all four centers men making the team — Davis Cousins, Plumlee and Drummond — a sign that the team is still looking ahead to a potential match-up with Spain in the gold medal game. While Davis will start at center and get the most run the four big men is a sign the team is looking ahead to a potential gold medal game against the host Spaniards, where Team USA will need the size (Spain rolls out Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka).

Team USA will still be a guard-driven team — they will pressure and run and count on nobody being able to slow them much.

Leaving Korver and Lillard home hurts the outside, shooting, but with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and the rest the USA will have no problem scoring from beyond the arc (which is closer in international ball than the NBA).

Team USA is still a gold medal favorite. They are in a soft group and after that the easy side of the single elimination bracket if they win the group. The likely toughest team they face is Lithuania (ranked fourth in the world) — Spain, France, Argentina, Greece are all on the other side of the bracket. But beating Spain in Spain will be a real test.