Kurt Helin

Players’ union, North Carolina native Chris Paul both support move of All-Star Game


The NBA rightfully yanking the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of the HB2 “bathroom bill” has pissed off some North Carolina right-wing politicians and other blowhards. But people that actually matter continue to rally to support of the move.

That includes the National Basketball Players’ Association (the players’ union), which released this statement.

“The National Basketball Players Association supports the league’s decision to relocate the 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte. North Carolina is home to a sizable number of current and former NBPA members. They and our entire membership looked forward to participating in the All-Star week activities in the Charlotte community. However, the enactment of legislation that challenges the right of all Americans from discrimination threatened the ability of every attendee to enjoy the All-Star festivities. We join the NBA in the hope that the annual celebration of our game will one day, soon, be held in Charlotte.”

One of the most prominent North Carolina natives who stars in the NBA — Clippers point guard Chris Paul — summed up his frustration well, saying essentially it sucks but had to be done.

The deal is done. The game is on the move, likely to New Orleans. Maybe the 2019 All-Star will go to Charlotte (modifications of HB2 were always more likely after the November election, not before), but the NBA did the right thing following through on its threat.

Now, about the transgender bathroom laws in Louisiana….

Manu Ginobili says talks with Philadelphia were serious, but didn’t want to leave San Antonio

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Manu Ginobili was willing to give his beloved San Antonio Spurs a discount. Now, when that discount was $13 million — the Sixers offered $16 million, the Spurs first offer was $3 million — he balked and started having serious conversations with the Sixers. But the Spurs cut the gap down with a $14 million, one-year offer and Ginobili took it.

Ginobili told Michael Lee of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports that he really was a Spur at heart.

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili told The Vertical. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there….

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

Just a quick translation: $13 million is a lot of money to turn down. I love Brett Brown, but really $13 million. When the Spurs cut that to $2 million, I came home.

Gregg Popovich said the Spurs didn’t want to lose Ginobili and Tim Duncan in the same season.

“Losing Tim made it absolutely imperative that we keep him,” Popovich told The Vertical Thursday of Ginobili. “To lose them both at the same time, it would’ve been like death by a thousand cuts. It would’ve been awful.”

Ginobili will play one more season — right after one more Olympic run with Argentina — then walk away from the game. Having always been a Spur. Because that’s what he really wanted.

New Brooklyn Net Luis Scola shocked by New York rents

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According to RentJungle.com, the average one-bedroom apartment in New York City rents for $2848 a month. A two bedroom will run you an average of $3631.

Luis Scola and his family have spent the past few seasons in Toronto and Indianapolis but are now moving to Brooklyn, where he signed with the Nets. He wants to do it right — live in the city, walk everywhere, eat out more, not be so suburban. But about those rents…

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“I think New York is one of the best cities in the world — a lot of people question New York. They love to visit but not to live,” Scola said. “I’m excited. I like to live there, too, but I don’t like the renting prices.”

Scola will make $5.5 million on his one-year deal in Brooklyn, he can swing those rents. He’s not going to have to live in Hoboken with two people he met on Craig’s List.

But yes, sticker shock.


Report: About those Jahlil Okafor to Celtics rumors, Boston will not surrender much

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It was a splash of cold water in the face of hot Russell Westbrook/DeMarcus Cousins/Blake Griffin rumors — if the Celtics get anyone via trade this summer, the Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor is far more likely than any of those three. It was a reality check (and spot on).

Reality also says it’s not all that likely the Celtics get Okafor, either.

At some point, Danny Ainge will need to push all his chips, or assets, into the middle of the table to land a superstar. But how many would put out for Okafor? Not many according to Keith Pompey of the Philadephia Inquirer.

Word out of Boston is that the Celtics will not give up much for the 6-foot-11, 257-pounder.

They have concerns about his playing in the city after being involved in two street fights there in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning. Nor do they like the fact that the center saw a gun pointed at his head in Old City and that he was stopped for going 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Ainge has a reputation for trying to drive a hard bargain in the best of cases, let alone ones where his interest in said player isn’t likely very high. Okafor would fit with the Celtics — the guy can score inside and rebound, valuable NBA skills — but he’s not the game-changer they need. He’s okay. He’s not the answer.

Ainge should not push his chips into the middle of the table for Okafor. If he can get him on a steal he will.

And the Sixers shouldn’t take that kind of an offer for Okafor.

But it’s not fun to talk about why trades won’t happen, so go into the comments and come up with fantasy moves.


Derrick Rose on Knicks: “They’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams”

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Derrick Rose has never lacked confidence. At times it’s an irrational confidence — which is why New Yorkers will relate to him.

You’re going to need that belief in yourself to be a little guard (officially 6’3″) weaving your way through the trees of the NBA in the paint to become an MVP. You’re going to need that to bounce back from multiple knee injuries and still be an impactful NBA player. Optimism about yourself and the future can lead to great things.

Then there’s the other edge of the sword. The Knicks had an interesting off-season adding Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and coach Jeff Hornacek to Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Lang Whitaker of NBA.com asked Rose about the expectations that come with this lineup in the rational city of New York.

They’re high. I mean, with these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams, and they’re trying not to build that many super teams, and Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that. And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win. Talking to Melo and all the guys who’ve been around. You’ve got Brandon who just signed for one year, he’s got to show why he’s there. I’ve got to show why I’m there. Joakim has to show why he’s there. Everybody’s trying to prove themselves.

I hate to be the one that breaks it to you Derrick, but when Silver said it was not good for the league to have two super teams, he was talking about the Warriors and that LeBron James/Kyrie Irving/Kevin Love group that just won an NBA title in Cleveland. Even “they” need to admit that’s a better team than the Knicks right now.

“They” must be thinking of these Knicks circa 2011.  These Knicks should be better than a season ago, and they have a rising star in Porzingis. The rest of these Knicks — Rose, Noah, ‘Melo — can be pretty good but are chasing the shadows of their past. Rose, in a contract year and finally looking healthy late last season, he should put up good yet inefficient numbers. Just like Anthony. Hopefully, Noah can stay healthy and contribute.

These Knicks will be better than a year ago, but in my mind New York is going to be competing with Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, Orlando, Chicago, and Milwaukee for one of the final three playoff spots in the East (conservatively, Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Indiana, and Detroit are locks). The Knicks should comfortably be in that mix, they probably are a playoff team if healthy.

Maybe I just lack confidence in the Knicks and will be proven wrong. Maybe “they” will be right. We’ll see. But I like my reality-based world.