Kurt Helin

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers

Blazers buy out Mike Miller, who is now free agent

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This was expected; it’s just taken a while to get there.

Mike Miller was not going to be part of the rotation in Cleveland — as banged up as they were in the NBA Finals Miller only got on the court for 28 minutes. He was traded to Portland in a salary dump (approved by LeBron James) but the rebuilding Blazers were not expected to keep the 35-year-old sharpshooter. Sunday, Portland and Miller agreed to a buyout, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Mike Miller has finalized a contract buyout to enter free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Once Miller clears waivers, the Denver Nuggets are among the teams with an interest in signing Miller, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Denver pursued Miller aggressively in free agency a year ago, before Miller signed a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Denver has 14 guaranteed contracts as it begins training camp this week..

Miller was owed $2.3 million this season and recently exercised that option. We do not yet know how much the buyout was for, but I doubt he took a steep discount.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot, this is a team that chased him in 2014, but Miller chose to follow LeBron and go after another ring. Denver is a team transitioning to having Emmanuel Mudiay run the point, and with some interesting pieces (Danilo Gallinari) and some guys they would love to trade (Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler) as they transition the roster. Wouldn’t Denver rather use that last roster spot on a young player that could be with them into the future?

Other, earlier rumblings included Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Dallas. Miller has played seven seasons — 453 games total — in Memphis, so there is a comfort level. Plus that team needs shooting, and he is a career 40.7 percent shooter from three (although that fell to 32.5 percent last season, which makes you wonder where he is on the aging curve).

Miller to OKC makes a little sense because he played for new Thunder coach Billy Donovan in college at Florida. However, the Thunder have 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster — that’s the max a team can carry. The Thunder don’t have room for him unless they buy out a player to make room, which is highly unlikely.

This might be a situation where Miller waits until teams start the season and see what they have, and then a team with a need (or that had an injury) comes calling.


David Lee: Stevens’ practices remind him of Kerr’s

Brad Stevens
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Guys that have played for him the NBA praise Brad Stevens as a coach, publicly and privately. Jared Dudley talked about it, saying that’s a coach he and a lot of guys would want to play for someday.

You can add David Lee to the list.

Lee was professional about it last season when he lost his starting role and was marginalized within the Golden State Warriors’ rotations (although he did play a key role in the lineups that won them the title over Cleveland). Lee and the Warriors agreed to a trade, and he was sent East to Boston (which also has a loaded front court, but that’s a different discussion). Look at what Lee told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

Stevens had the Celtics buying into his offense and playing 26-17 ball over the final two months of last season, enough to jump up into the seven seed and make the playoffs. This is becoming his team.

Boston seems to have found a coach that can be a long-term part of rebuilding this team back up to championship levels.

Now they just need to give him the players that can do that.

Pistons corrected foundation of Reggie Jackson’s shot

Reggie Jackson
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Reggie Jackson‘s game is based around speed — he can get to the rim and few can slow him down. He takes a lot of shots near the basket, but that driving also gets him to the free throw line and opens up passing lanes. He’s put up good numbers that way — 17.6 points and 9.2 assists per game after he was traded to Detroit last season.

His shot isn’t bad, but as his chart from last season shows “consistent” is not the word you would use to describe it. There’s some work to do.


The Pistons think his outside shooting numbers will improve this season because they corrected a flaw in his mechanics, which Stan Van Gundy detailed to the Pistons’ official Web site.

I don’t remember exactly who detected it first but we noticed he was actually a little knock-kneed on his shot. So as he went into his stance and gather, his knees came together, which was really taking a lot of the power out of his shot. So to generate power, he had to create a lot of motion in his shot and anybody will tell you the more motion you have, the harder it is to be consistent. He worked very, very hard on it and he’s got a great-looking shot. So the fact he’s been able to get more from his legs and shorten up his delivery, if you look – his release, his follow-through, his rotation on the ball are great. I think he’s going to shoot the ball very, very well.

If this works, and Jackson can improve his outside shot, while still getting to the rim and showing off some chemistry with Andre Drummond (they played well off each other at the end of last season), the Pistons become that much more dangerous.

They need him to be, and not just because Brandon Jennings is still out for a while. The Pistons re-signed Jackson to a max contract his past summer, five-years and $80 million — they are paying him to be a franchise player now.

Antic on run in with NYPD: “what happened that night wasn’t our fault”

Pero Antic

Thabo Sefolosha is still recovering from his broken leg and has refused to accept a plea deal after a run-in with the NYPD on the night former Pacer Chris Copeland was stabbed outside a New York nightclub. That night and encounter left Sefolosha with a broken leg that required surgery and kept him out of the playoffs.

Former Atlanta Hawks big man Pero Antic was with Sefolosha that night as the two men went out after arriving in the city with their teammates. Antic was arrested that evening and charged obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment. Those charges were eventually dropped.

Antic left the NBA this summer, deciding on returning to Europe to play for Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Basketball League. But in a series of recent interviews he talked about that April night in New York.

One was with Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A:…I’m happy that justice was done and people can finally see that what happened that night wasn’t our fault. I’ll just try to forget that and concentrate on the future and better things in life.

Q: What can you say about the way you were treated by police now that your case is over?

A: Not good to be honest. I know that they have the power and everything but at the end of the day we are all humans and we all have rights. Nobody has the right to hit you or even put your career in danger. But not all policeman are like that. I truly believe in that. But those few individuals are making the big difference of what and how people think about the police.

Antic was far more blunt in an interview in a Croatian paper, as translated by LoLz14 at NBA reddit (also I checked this with Google Translate, which returned something similar).

“We were in a wrong place at the wrong time, but in the NBA, going out isn’t forbidden. Thabo went out of a car so he could give 20 dollars to a homeless guy (beggar) and all of a sudden police started to push him violently. I went out to see what is happening, after all he only weights ’20 kilograms’ (probably meaning that he isn’t as tough as Antic). It was pure racism that is spread around America. Thabo is black, all officers were white. I didn’t want to leave him so they arrested me as well (or maybe they took him into custody, I don’t know the correct translation). We never got explanation for their behaviour. Police kills people over there and nothing happens.”

It is very possible that speaking to a European publication Antic felt he could be more blunt and open.

In both cases, he said the incident had nothing to do with him leaving the NBA. He could make about the same money here or there, and he told the AJC he prioritized other things.

“You know me better than the other people from the media and you know how much I loved and enjoyed my time in Atlanta. The biggest reason is that I want to be closer to my family and spend more time with them. When we found out that my wife is pregnant with our third child the decision was to stay in Europe (it’s a boy). Believe me it was hard to do it.”

Porzingis has studied Usain Bolt’s running style

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Kristaps Portzingis has a lot of potential. The Knicks’ No. 4 draft pick certainly has great length, he’s got range on his outside shot, and at Summer League he showed flashes of using that length to be a shot changer on defense.

He’s also got a lot of work to do to be a quality NBA player. A lot of that starts with adding muscle, but there is more to it. The Knicks like his work ethic and drive to get better, and to illustrate that GM Steve Mills told this story to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

“One day I went by him, and [Porzingis] was in the cold plunge [pool] and he was on his phone, and I went over to see what he was doing,” Mills said. “He was watching Usain Bolt videos on running techniques.

“He is that diligent in terms of trying to understand every aspect of his body, every aspect of getting better and stronger. He’s a unique guy in that regard, and it will allow him to become the best player he can.”

It’s easy to see the connection in that Bolt is tall for a sprinter but uses his long strides to his advantage. Let’s just hope Porzingis doesn’t take to wearing Jamaican-colored track uniforms.

The Knicks may have something in Porzingis — Phil Jackson certainly hopes so, he bet big on the Latvian. Jackson thinks Porzingis can be a hub in the triangle offense one day (although if they are still running the triangle in a few years is up for debate). After watching him at Summer League (and talking to scouts and executives) I could see what some scouts liked, but we are still two years away from having a solid read on how good Porzingis can be — he is that raw. There is a lot of work to do, and even Jackson has questions. Which is why the Knicks are quick to sell the “look at his work ethic” story lines.