Author: Kurt Helin

2014 USA Basketball - Chicago

Team USA takes on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


Team USA #alsicebucketchallenge… We all were challenged by somebody so we did it together.@sydelcurry and Wes Matthews challenged me. We nominate Barack Obama, Adam Silver, and Chicago’s own @Oprah

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — raising awareness of ALS and seeking donations to help fight the disease — continues to sweep through the NBA. A bunch of players have taken part.

Next up, Team USA.

Carmelo Anthony to receive half of his salary each year up front

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Most NBA players get paid like you and I do — on the 1st and 15th of the month money is automatically put into their account via direct deposit. Their paychecks are just a tad bigger than ours.

Carmelo Anthony is getting more of his cash up front.

Half of his salary each season will be a cash payment up front, reports the Wall Street Journal. Anthony will make just shy of $22.5 million next season, he will get $11.25 million of that up front. Not a bad haul.

(There was an earlier report that he was going to get half of his entire five-year, $124 million contract up front, a whopping $62 million — that’s not happening. Under the CBA a player can negotiate to get half of a season’s salary up front, but not the entire contract.)

Anthony isn’t the only Knick to do this, J.R. Smith gets half his salary each season up. One of them is probably spending/saving that more wisely than the other, I’ll let you take a stab at guessing that one.

The NBA players union suggested that players getting new deals arrange it so their contracts are paid out on a twice-monthly deal but for 36 months — to prepare for the potential of a 2017 lockout. That’s a bit frightening, to think abut.

Paul George says number change to 13 (PG-13) was about coming into his own

Paul George

It’s a marketing thing.

Paul George is a rising star in the basketball world trying to crossover into the world where even casual sports fans — and even some non-sports fans — know who he is. A catchy nickname like PG-13 helps with that. (Plus it was a nice touch he bought up all his old jerseys on the market and donated them to his high school.)

George explained the move speaking to Vigilant Sports, noting that this was not easy.

“I was just superstitious about changing my number,” he said. “Being with 24 for as long as I can remember. It’s always been one of my favorite numbers, and being a big Kobe [Bryant] fan growing up had a little bit to do with it. I was superstitious about it….

“And the whole thing behind PG-13 is just coming into my own. I feel like I’m at that stage where I’m ready to embrace everything that comes with being one of the young stars in this league. Everyone knows PG-13 is related to television, so the whole thing is being able to enjoy the show and being fun to watch.”

Of course, people know who he is now for another reason — the horrific leg break he suffered in the USA Basketball showcase in Las Vegas a few weeks back. One that will almost certainly keep him out all of next season.

But that can be part of the story long-term now — another hurdle he had to overcome. George was not highly recruited out of high school, and even coming out of college to the NBA he was taken behind Wesley Johnson, Evan Turner, and Al-Farouq Aminu among others. His basketball career has been about being underestimated, working hard and overcoming the odds. This is just another chapter in that.

It could make one of those feel good, cheesy, Disney sports movies… probably rated PG-13.

Andre Drummond on making Team USA: “I don’t plan on going home”

2014 USA Basketball Showcase
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The conventional wisdom with the Team USA front line for the FIBA World Cup in Spain goes like this: Anthony Davis is the starter and the guy that Coach Mike Krzyzewski will lean heavily on, but you need at least one and maybe two more bigs to be ready for Spain down the line (with Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka). DeMarcus Cousins is just too talented a big man to leave off the roster and his size will be needed. That leaves room for likely one more traditional big man on the roster — Andre Drummond or Mason Plumlee. Although Kenneth Faried is working hard to inject himself in the conversation.

With Cousins out vs. Brazil in Saturday night’s Team USA “friendly” in Chicago, Drummond and Plumlee will both get the chance to make their case against a big front line of Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao. This could go a long way toward making the case for Drummond to make the Final 12 going to Spain.

Drummond was confident speaking with the Pistons’ official Web site.

“I don’t plan on going home,” he said of his ultimate fate with roster decisions looming. “I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job here these past couple of weeks really proving I could be a part of this team. We have a lot of great players out here. I’m not going to back down. I know what’s at stake. I want to win a gold medal.”

Syracuse coach and Team USA assistant Jim Boeheim gave Drummond a good grade so far.

“I’m impressed,” he said. “He’s getting better and better. Big guys take time. Young big guys always take time and especially when they come out of college early. He’s physical. He gives you a physical presence out there that not many people can bring to the table. And he’s a good kid who works hard. He’s been fun to work with.”

I will say I noticed this in Las Vegas when I was there for USA Camp — when you asked Coach K about the bigs Drummond was always the first name out of his mouth. He would praise Cousins, he said Plumlee’s play was a pleasant surprise (which is saying something since Plumlee was at Duke for four years), but Drummond always was the first guy mentioned. Take that for what it’s worth.

We may have a better idea after Saturday night what the front line rotation is going to look like. This is a big night for Drummond.

Paul George: ‘I’ll be able to battle through this’ (VIDEO)

Paul George
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Paul George has an entire NBA career based around being overlooked, counted out, then working hard and blowing away expectations.

Listening to him at his press conference in Indiana Friday, the first time he spoke to the media since his horrific injury in the Team USA Showcase in Las Vegas, that’s his motivation again. And I wouldn’t bet against him.

My PBT Extra tag-team partner Jenna Corrado brings you the update.