Kurt Helin

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers

Nicolas Batum responds to Toronto rumor in hysterical fashion

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The report gained traction early Tuesday: Nicolas Batum is a free agent next summer and is already eyeing Toronto as a possible new destination. Batum is the former Blazer traded this summer to Charlotte, one of the lucky players about to hit the free agent market just as the system floods with money from the new television deal next summer. Toronto is a diverse, exciting city and an interesting team in the East…

Stop. Just stop. At least that’s what Batum took to Twitter to say Tuesday in classic fashion.

First things first, and with all due respect to Colin Jost and Michael Che, who certainly had their moments, I miss Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler on the Weekend Update desk.

As for Batum, I can tell you where he will land next summer — whichever team offers him the most money.

Charlotte can, in theory, do that as they have his Bird rights, but Batum isn’t going to get maxed out, so it’s a question of what teams are willing to offer. A lot of that could depend on how this season goes in Charlotte — Batum is a quality wing rotation player, a guy who can be a key contributor on the right team. With drive and kick guys like Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin on the Hornets’ roster, he should get the chance to show off his three-point stroke. He could be at the heart of a bubble playoff team in Charlotte.

However, trying to predict the chaos that will be free agency next summer is a fool’s errand. Batum could end up in Toronto, Charlotte, or 28 other destinations. He no doubt has his favorite spots and places he’d like to be — Toronto may well be one of them — but it all comes down to the money. It’s always the money.

Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr to undergo back surgery

Steve Kerr
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How bad is Steve Kerr’s back problem? The Warriors’ coach was just in Lake Tahoe for the American Century Celebrity Golf Classic and he couldn’t get out on the links. And he doesn’t miss a chance to golf.

To remedy this issue he’s going to undergo the knife Tuesday, reports CSNBayArea.com’s Monte Poole.

The Warriors’ head coach told CSNBayArea.com’s Monte Poole that he will undergo back surgery on Tuesday in Los Angeles to address a herniated disk. Kerr has been dealing with the issue for a few months…

Kerr told Poole that he’ll “be out for the summer.”

He’ll be fine by this fall, when the Warriors open training camp in defense of their NBA title.

Report: Knicks, Lakers, Wizards still interested in Kevin Seraphin

Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets
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The best big man still truly available on the free agent market? (Tristan Thompson isn’t truly available to anybody but Cleveland.)

Kevin Seraphin.

He’s a respectable NBA backup center who thought he could find a starting role but learned the hard way that’s not happening. Last season with the Wizards he averaged 15 minutes a night, scored 6.6 points on 51.3 percent shooting, grabbed 3.3 boards and was reliable. He doesn’t have much shooting range, and in the past there have been issues with fouls and turnovers. Still, he can give a team quality minutes.

He’s likely going to do that next season somewhere on a short, veteran minimum kind of deal. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops lists the most recent possibilities.

The Mavericks, Suns, and Spurs have in the past expressed some interest.

The smart money has him landing in Washington, where he would play behind Marcin Gortat in the rotation again.

The Knicks and Lakers don’t make a lot of sense. The Knicks have Robin Lopez and Kyle O’Quinn, so there are not minutes to be had. The Lakers have Roy Hibbert and Robert Sacre under contract, plus they are bringing in rookie Robert Upshaw and to see if he can make the roster.

Unfortunately for Seraphin, the music has stopped and he doesn’t have a chair. Or leverage. Or many options. Someone will grab him before the season starts, but he’s going to have to show an improved game to get more run (then eventually, more money).

Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker training to be Starbucks manager

Vin Baker
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Vin Baker was in Las Vegas for NBA Summer League, working as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was also there networking — what really goes on in Las Vegas, between scouts, GMs, coaches and the media. In Baker’s case, he was working to find an NBA assistant coaching job.

That didn’t seem to pan out, so he’s going to his fall back — owning a Starbucks.

Which means learning how to run a Starbucks. He is going through training on that now, something he talked about with Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal.

The world’s tallest, and perhaps most famous, barista is stationed behind a busy coffee counter. His smile and easy-going style welcome customers looking for their Starbucks fix as they fastbreak to work or South County’s beaches….

This is Vin Baker’s world these days. This is the same Baker who grew up in Old Saybrook, Conn., and went on to become one of New England’s all-time great collegiate basketball players at the University of Hartford. It’s the same Baker who won Olympic gold in 2000, played in four NBA All-Star Games and spent 13 years in the pros, including parts of two seasons with the Celtics.

It’s also the same Baker who battled alcoholism toward the end of his career. That addiction, plus a series of financial missteps ranging from a failed restaurant to simply too many hands dipping into his gold-plated cookie jar, combined to wipe out nearly $100 million in earnings.

Now 43, newly married and with four children, Baker is training to manage a Starbucks franchise.

Baker has experience and perspective that a lot of young NBA players could benefit from (at least those who would listen). But getting a foot in the door in the NBA is not easy, even for former All-Star players.

Whether owning or managing a Starbucks, what matters is that Baker is sober — four years now — and on a path that works for him. If you choose to view this as another athlete who blew through their money, ask yourself if you were an instant millionaire at 20, with a lot of other perks thrown at you, how mature would your decisions have been?

I’ll see this as a case of redemption, of a guy who got his life back and under control. I’d love to see him back around the NBA, but if not in a Starbucks works, too.

Amir Johnson struggled to pick Boston’ number because “every number 1-34 is basically retired”

Amir Johnson
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Celtics fans are going to love Amir Johnson. (Toronto fans and teammates are going to miss him.) He is the definition of a hard-working, blue-collar NBA player who does all the dirty work and does it well. He could have fit in with the Celtics of any era.

But one part of his transition to Boston was difficult — picking a uniform number. Jimmy Toscano at CSNNE.com has Johnson’s quote about his new number in green.

“Number 90. Every number 1-34 is basically retired,” Johnson said. “My first initial number, I picked No. 5, but I know there was going to kind of be some controversy with that because Kevin Garnett won a championship. So I knew that was pretty much out the [window]. My number of course was retired (15, Tommy Heinsohn). And I recently posted a picture on my social network . . . it was a team back in the 90’s, like ’97, ’96, I played for my first organized basketball team which was the Burbank Celtics. It was a Celtics team. So I just kind of put that together. The 90’s were good. I was born in ’87 but the 90’s were good.”

The 90s were good if you can ignore Creed, Fred Durst and the rat-tail hairstyle.

Here are those Burbank Celtics:

#Tbt celtics squad #90s 🍀

A photo posted by @iamamirjohnson on

And his player card from that team:

#tbt been a Celtic #90s 🍀

A photo posted by @iamamirjohnson on