Author: Kurt Helin

Houston at Sacramento

Shaq on DeMarcus Cousins’ technicals: “That’s called passion”


DeMarcus Cousins plays physical and he plays hard. That’s going to earn him some technicals.

The problem is when Cousins thinks the calls against him are unfair (and that happens a lot) he can’t just let it go. Either he keeps going harder and retaliates against a player or he chirps at the official (if not outright gets in their face). His reputation means he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt often, but he brings that on himself. Last season all that earned him a league-leading 16 technicals, a suspension for having more than 15, and $70,000 in fines.

Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal stuck up for Cousins and used another word for what is going on — passion. He likes the Cousins mean streak. That’s what he told Dime Magazine in a Q&A at Rucker Park in New York.

“I tell him, ‘be yourself and dominate.’ First of all, if you don’t put numbers up, nobody’s going to look at you. Now that people are looking at you, you have to make them respect you. Sometimes when you do crazy stuff, nobody’s going to like it. But you can’t tame that passion. I want my big man to be mean. I don’t want my big man smiling all the time, so I don’t mind. All the greatest players were angry, and they talked all the time. Charles Barkley, myself, so many others. But we also put up numbers, we were positive and did the right things in the community.

“Cousins will get technicals, he’s going to argue with the referees. That’s called passion and you never want to take a guy’s passion away. And not every guy has passion. I know, because I can give you five big guys right now who don’t have passion. I won’t tell you, but you know who they are.”

Playing a little bit angry is certainly okay, that passion just can’t overwhelm you rational judgement.

Cousins has said it before, when he feels wronged he just cannot let it go. He has to be heard, he has to react. That’s the part that he’s got to overcome (and he has improved on). It’s not how he plays the game, it’s the reaction when things don’t go his way. He doesn’t need to be Zen about it, even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t, but you have to take that frustration and channel it back into the game.

Cousins talent is unquestioned — it’s likely to earn him a spot on Team USA this summer. But if he’s going to start leading the Kings up the ladder in the West (along with Rudy Gay) they need him on the court. Not back in the locker room, or playing carefully as to avoid another technical.

Report: Carmelo Anthony has dropped weight to better fit triangle offense

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony looks thinner. It’s a little hard to tell how much or even really if ‘Melo has lost much weight this summer from one Instagram photo, but the first blush looking at that image he looks thinner.

He has gotten skinny and there’s a reason for that, a reported confidant of Anthony told the New York Post.

“He wants to be as athletic as he was when he was a rookie,’’ the confidant told The Post. “Plus he wants to be a facilitator in the triangle and speed will help that.’’

Carmelo Anthony the point forward?

Anthony has thrived playing the four the past couple years, because his shooting range and ability to drive made him a difficult one-on-one matchup. The triangle can certainly use some of that but it really is an offense that is both about spacing and taking what the defense gives you (it’s a read offense rather than set plays). Big men who can handle the ball from Scottie Pippen through Lamar Odom have played beautifully in the offense. Anthony is going to get touches both on the wing and at the elbow.

If he’s serious about facilitating — if the ball doesn’t stick when it touches his hands — he can be great in this offense. But that’s not always been his calling card.

Anthony and the Knicks deserve some time to figure this out. The triangle offense takes a little while to learn, and a roster that is likely to see more upheaval is not going to make that process easier.

Ten can’t miss games for upcoming NBA season

LeBron James

The NBA regular season schedule came out Wednesday, all 1,230 games. Even with live streaming and an empty DVR ready to be filled up, I’m not going to watch all of them. Nobody will watch all of them.

That said, there are some great games coming up. Homecomings and rivalries, plus just matchups of great basketball teams.

You can’t watch them all but there are some you can’t miss. Here are my 10 can’t miss games of the NBA season.

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 28
There are sub-plots to watch here, Jeremy Lin playing against his old team and Dwight Howard getting booed again by Lakers fans… but that’s not why any of us will be watching. Kobe Bryant will be back on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers and any time he steps on the court we watch. Right now we will be watching because we’re not sure what Kobe we will see, how much he has left in the tank, but we will watch. He is one of the all-time greats.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, Oct. 31
You could argue that the first games for these teams are bigger — LeBron James’ first game at home in Cleveland, Derrick Rose’s return to the NBA comes in Madison Square Garden — but this is the first of four meetings between the two best teams in the Eastern Conference (on paper) and that is worth seeing. Cleveland has more talent but the Bulls have an identity and players that fit it. To be fair, this game will not mean much if/when these two teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s our first glimpse into what could be one of the best rivalries of the next five years in the NBA.

Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs, Nov. 19
LeBron’s last team got smoked by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and the gang in San Antonio, so LeBron went out and got some new teammates like Kyrie Irving and soon Kevin Love. This should be interesting, although the Spurs will play their same system and know exactly how to execute it while it’s going to take the Cavaliers some time to figure it out.

Milwaukee Bucks at Minnesota Timberwolves, Nov. 26
Once the Kevin Love trade goes down (and it will), this game becomes the first between No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and No. 2 pick Jabari Parker. Both rookies are in situations where they should get a lot of minutes and plenty of touches. Both are going to get the chance to grow in the spotlight

Cavaliers at Thunder at Oklahoma City, Dec. 11
LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. The two best players on the planet go head-to-head and the best part about these match ups is they often guard each other. It is a true head-to-head matchup.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat, Dec. 25
LeBron returns to Miami for the first time in a Cavs uniform (this time around, anyway). You can expect he will get a warmer reception than the vitriol thrown at him four years ago when LeBron in a Heat uniform came to play the Cavaliers. Now all of that is forgotten. Miami is going to be a pretty good team and one that wants to keep playing the space and pace offense. We’ll see how LeBron does against it.

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers, December 25
This is the game to watch on your new 60-inch smart TV you just got for Christmas. This if the final of five games on the Christmas Day slate and it should be a very entertaining one. There will be lobs, dunks and rainbow threes. Stephen Curry vs Chris Paul. David Lee vs. Blake Griffin. Klay Thompson vs. J.J. Redick. This is the game Santa is bringing die hard NBA fans.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves, Jan. 31
Kevin Love returns home to Minnesota. It will be interesting to see how he is received — it won’t be exactly with open arms and a dozen roses, but I doubt the booing will last all game, either. Also in this game, Andrew Wiggins gets a shot at LeBron.

Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs, March 25

Well done by the schedule makers putting these two teams against each other a couple times late in the season (they also face off April 7). These might be your two favorites to win the NBA title (not what the bookmakers say, the actual favorites), they were the two best teams in basketball at the end of last season. The interesting question is who Gregg Popovich sits for both of these games.

Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors, March 27
I just hope Steve Nash can play one last game in Canada. Nash is one of the great point guards of all time and the best Canadian player ever, I hope his body lets him play one last game in his home country.

Best NBA crossovers of 2013-14 season (VIDEO)

Cleveland Cavaliers v Phoenix Suns

I love a good dunk as much as the next guy. Same with blocks.

But I can watch crossover highlights all day long.

Here is a highlight package of the best crossovers from the NBA last season, as compiled by My personal favorite may be Kyrie Irving spinning around Pablo Prigioni. Or Andre Iguodala’s great move against Denver. Jeff Teague has a better crossover than he gets credit for.

(And save your fingers in the comments, we know not all of those are pure crossovers. It’s summer, relax a little. Those are still great moves.)

Greg Oden formally charged with felony battery, not guilty plea entered


This part of the court proceedings is a bit of a formality, but the felony battery charges against former NBA No. 1 pick Greg Oden became official before a judge Wednesday morning in Indianapolis.

A not guilty plea was entered (standard at this point in any criminal case, it can be changed later after plea bargain negotiations) and a trial date of Oct. 22 was set, according to the Associated Press.

Oden has been charged with one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury — a felony that can come with one to six years in jail — as well charges of domestic battery and battery resulting in bodily injury, both misdemeanors.

Oden admitted to the arresting officers that he did this, according to the original police report.

The officer noticed “blood, swelling to the nose, lacerations to the forehead and nose area” of the victim’s face. Police also saw blood on the sofa and floor. A flower pot was also knocked over during the disturbance. …

“Things got out of control and I started to go after the victim,” police quoted Oden in the report…. “I was wrong and I know what has to happen,” Oden told officers. He said he and the woman had dated for approximately two years and broke up about two months ago.

It’s a minor point in comparison, but Oden is a free agent right now and it’s hard to see a team taking the PR hit and bringing him for training camp in at this point. Oden played last season with the Heat but by the time the games really mattered he had fallen far out of the rotation. On a team that could have used some size.