Kurt Helin

Duke to have pro days, close practices to NBA scouts, executives

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For a few years now, the talent factory that is Kentucky basketball under John Calipari, has closed practices to NBA scouts looking for scraps of information about players. Instead, they host a two-day “pro days” where the players are put through workouts attended by nearly every team. Then the doors close, like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

This year, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke are following suit, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports (and confirmed by NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk). NBA teams can come to two pro days in October, and still scout games, of course, but they will not be in practices.

Calipari started doing this in 2014 — the year of Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles — officially as a way to limit distractions. College coaches like their control. This year Duke has Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Grayson Allen, who are all projected as potential first-round picks. While Coach K has yet to address why for the new policy, you can bet on the distractions point being at the forefront.

NBA teams are not going to like this, they want as much information as possible on players that they are about to make multi-million dollar investments in, but it likely won’t alter those players place on draft boards. If Giles and Tatum perform as expected on the court, they are still top five players next June. Whether scouts get into practice or not. Talent still wins out.

Stephen Curry on NBA national anthem: “I will most likely stand”

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The NBA — and its fan base — are the most politically progressive of all the major American sports, as Seerat Sohi laid out so well. When the NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, the move played well with most of the league’s core fans.

As an extension of that, when NBA preseason games start up in a few weeks you can expect multiple NBA players to kneel during the national anthem, continuing the protest that the 49ers Collin Kaepernick started.

Stephen Curry, arguably the NBA’s biggest star, likely will not be part of that, he said at a tech event Tuesday, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News.

“I’ll most likely stand,” Curry said. “Colin, if you follow the way he talks, the message he’s trying to send with his act, he’s not, from his mouth, disrespecting the veterans or the military. That’s not his intention. He’s obviously continued the act to create the conversation for more social justice and things of that nature. I’ve been a part of certain conversations off the grid, finding different ways to make our community better, especially for African-Americans. That’s not the way I’ll do it. But I support him in his attempt to start the conversation or continue the conversation.”

This echoes what Curry had said recently, that Kaepernick had the right to protest and that he thought his message was important. But that is different from kneeling during the anthem and joining in.

I’d be surprised if any of the NBA’s biggest individual brands — Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, etc. — kneeled for the anthem. But there will be guys who do.

You can be sure the suits in the league office — all the way up to Commissioner Adam Silver — and team executives have already had conversations about what to do when this happens in the NBA. And the answer will be to stay out of it. This is going to play out very differently than the David Stern response to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf — and that’s a sign that the league itself is growing up. And understands its core audience.

Good news for Thunder, Cameron Payne reportedly out of walking boot

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Cameron Payne is in line for a bump in minutes and responsibilities as a backup two guard this season. He showed promise last season then had an impressive Summer League in Orlando where he averaged 18.8 points per game.

Then in July Payne had surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. While the official timetable for return on those is 6-8 weeks, it is an area of the foot (the bone that runs from the base of the little toe up near the ankle) that doesn’t get great blood flow and can be slow to heal.

Which is why this report from Erik Horne of The Oklahoman is good news.

That’s much better than the other news Thunder fans got Tuesday.

Hopefully, Payne will be good to go by the start o the season. However, the Thunder can and should be cautious here, they don’t want to rush things and have this lead to further damage that keeps Payne out longer. The Thunder have been down that road before with this surgery (although the Durant situation had differences).

Report: Cavaliers sign Eric Moreland to training camp deal

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Last season, Eric Moreland started the season on the Sacramento Kings roster as a reserve forward and he got in eight games before breaking his foot in early December. That was it for the season.

This season he’s going to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ training camp. That according to David Pick.

The Cavaliers have 12 guaranteed contracts on the books, and at some point, the stalemate will end and J.R. Smith will make 13.

The Cavaliers have Kevin Love and Channing Frye to play the four, plus LeBron James gets some run there in small ball lineups. It’s hard to imagine Moreland breaking through there and making the roster. But he’s getting some money and his foot in the door, which is a start.

New players’ union’s nearly-completed new Manhattan home sounds impressive

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Because players always find it difficult to locate places to hang out and things to do in Manhattan….

The National Basketball Players Association — the NBPA, commonly called the players’ union — had been headquartered in Harlem for many years but recently started working on a move to a larger, better-equipped space in midtown Manhattan.

Better equipped as in players’ union’s nearly-completed new New York home is a lot nicer than your apartment. Let Jared Zwerling lay it out in a story on the union Web site about the NBA rookies getting a tour of the facility as part of the Rookie Transition Program.

Around 80 players visited the new office in midtown Manhattan, which covers 47,000 square feet over two floors. It’s the only location in Manhattan that resembles an NBA training center.

The rookies got a tour of the gym, locker room, soon-to-be-completed basketball court and hydroworks area (hot/cold tub and underwater treadmill). They also checked out the players’ lounge (with pool and ping-pong) and multiple business rooms (technologically-equipped) where they can conduct meetings to advance their careers on and off the court.

These new facilities likely could see a lot of use in the off-season, when guys are often looking for spots with good run against other NBA level players. There are places in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other gyms around the nation where these games are regular occurrences, this facility could join the list.

By the way, as part of that program the rookies also met with union president Chris Paul and executive director Michelle Roberts.

The union and NBA owners are currently still talking about restructuring the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would impact these players as they move through their NBA careers (but could dramatically impact next summer’s crop of rookies if a new deal is in place).