Kurt Helin

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Report: Rockets trying to pitch Jazz on Ty Lawson trade

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Utah is in the market for a point guard. They lost Dante Exum before the season started and have tried to go with a combination of Trey Burke and Raul Neto, but it’s not been impressive (they have won lately because Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert both got healthy).

Houston is trying to pitch Utah on taking Ty Lawson as the solution to their problems — and getting him out of Houston, where he has been a major disappointment this season. Marc Stein of ESPN has the report:

There is some mutual interest.

That said, in a past twitter chat Lawson said he would never want to play for Utah because the city was “too boring.”

For the Rockets, this makes sense — they move Lawson (which they’ve wanted to do for a while now), they get a potential backup point in Burke plus whatever is needed to make the salaries match.

Does this make sense for the Jazz? When healthy and focused he’s a quick pick-and-roll point guard who could make plays with Favors and Gobert. He plays up tempo, is a solid scorer, and can really dish the rock and help move the ball. He also hasn’t played anything like that guy in recent games for the Rockets when he did get some run. He’s battled some alcohol issues with two DUIs in Denver, where he clashed with coach Brian Shaw. Is he past that and would he be a good influence on a young Jazz core?

The advantage for the Jazz is that Lawson’s contract is not guaranteed for next season — a condition of his move to the Rockets last summer — so if the Jazz want a rental to see how it works, they can swing this deal and cut bait this summer. But do they want to give up assets for that rental?

It’s a deal to watch. The Jazz want to make the playoffs and Lawson could help them get there. Even if they don’t keep him long term.

Between Lawson and Howard, the Rockets are aggressive on the trade market, but making headway will not be easy.

Report: Do Kings want to trade Ben McLemore? Or is that what Karl wants?

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This summer there were rumors flying around — getting Celtics’ fans excited — that the Sacramento Kings wanted to trade DeMarcus Cousins. They didn’t. Well, not owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Vlade Divac. Coach George Karl did. There was some tension between Karl and Cousins that both sides have said is patched up. You can decide for yourself the level of truth in that, but Cousins spent All-Star weekend swatting down those kinds of rumors.

Now there are rumors the Sacramento Kings are shopping young sharpshooter Ben McLemore, and teams such as the Cavaliers are interested.

But do the Kings want to move him, or is this more Karl? From Sam Amick of the USA Today.

The Kings need to look at any potential McLemore deal not as what’s good for Karl but rather as part of a bigger picture — will what they get in return for him make them better, particularly long-term?

McLemore is athletic, can defend, is starting to grasp the game better, and is shooting 37 percent from three this season. He made nice progress from his rookie to sophomore season, but that has stalled out some this season under Karl. Is that because of Karl, his system, and the dysfunction around the Kings, or is his ceiling lower than anticipated? All of this informs any potential trade the Kings could make — if the Kings don’t see as much potential as someone else, there is value there in the Kings making a trade. If not, hold him and see if the next coach can put him in better positions to succeed.

My guess is he stays, unless some team in desperation throws up a big offer.

Sacramento Kings to use awesome Arco Arena retro court for six games

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Next season, the Kings are moving into a new arena in downtown Sacramento, a state of the art building.

For the team’s six “Friday night flashback” games the rest of this season — plus the final contest — the team will play on a retro court designed to look almost exactly like the court at the Arco Arena when the team first moved to Sacramento in 1985. The court will have the Kings logo at center court, the original baby blue framing, and the “SACRAMENTO” on the baseline will be in the original font.

“Our final season at Sleep Train Arena has been filled with opportunities to look back at our rich history,” said Kings President Chris Granger in a statement. “This court is a special way to salute all of the fans, players and coaches who have helped us build toward a proud future in Sacramento.”

While there is always nostalgia, nobody is going to miss Arco/Sleep Train that much, it’s one of the more outdated buildings in the league. Plus the new arena looks fantastic. But I love this idea to celebrate the old look on the way out. Those baby blue uniforms are some of my favorite throwbacks.

Report: At All-Star Weekend meeting, majority of owners favor ads on jerseys

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Did you see it during the All-Star Game? The jerseys worn by every player had a small KIA patch on the left shoulder area, an ad about the size of a golf ball. Jersey manufacturer Adidas had a logo on the other shoulder.

Expect that to become the norm sooner rather than later.

The NBA has been inching toward this for years — this is the second year in a row with an ad on the All-Star jerseys — and when the owners met in Toronto to talk business the majority supported the idea, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Lakers have a 20-year, $4 billion local television deal — they can afford to take a moral high ground. Other owners who don’t have that kind of cash flow will see things differently. (That Laker broadcast deal does have ratings ties and may end up being worth a little less than estimated — Laker ratings are down 16 percent this season despite the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.)

While the purists will scream, those little golf-ball size ads are not intrusive or going to destroy the integrity of the game — the NBA isn’t going NASCAR here, nor is this suddenly a European soccer jersey ad placement. It’s a tiny patch. If Kia and McDonalds and other league sponsors want to pay for those ads — revenue that will be split among the teams (exactly how still to be determined) and with the players — it’s not that big a deal.

I’d wager the majority of fans watching either didn’t even notice the KIA ads on the All-Star jerseys, or did and looked right past it the way they do Cheez-Its being in the Big Brother house in that show. Or that key characters driving Hyundais in The Walking Dead. O Playstation getting placement in House of Cards. It’s unobtrusive, and not a slippery slope.

And whether you and Jeanie Buss like it or not, it’s coming. Sooner rather than later.

Anthony Davis, Chris Bosh and the evolution of the NBA big man

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Toronto was witness to the latest evidence of the evolution of the big man in the NBA — not during Sunday’s All-Star Kobe Bryant love vest, but on Saturday during the Skills Competition and Three-Point Contest.

Four big men competed in the skills competition — previously the domain of quick little guards — and Karl-Anthony Towns won it, knocking down his three first to beat Boston’s diminutive Isaiah Thomas. Miami’s Chris Bosh was set to compete in the three-point competition until his health issues got in the way.

That evolution of the big man and his role in a modern NBA was a topic throughout All-Star weekend for those trying to adapt to changing roles.

“The whole game has evolved,” said New Orlean’s Anthony Davis, one of those big men in the Saturday Skills Competition. “I don’t think there’s too many traditional big men anymore. Guys grab a rebound and push it up the floor and starting plays, stretching out to the three now. There are no traditional big men, but that’s the way the game has evolved….

“Everybody’s gotta be versatile now, and that’s the way the game has evolved.”

But this evolution is not one size fits all. There are the all-around skills of someone like Davis or Towns, the length and shooting of Kristaps Porzingis, the polished midrange game of LaMarcus Aldridge (who follows in the footsteps of Dirk Nowitzki), or the freakish athleticism of someone such as DeAndre Jordan.

DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are the two best players close to a traditional big man in the Association, but they bring other skills to the table — Cousins can hit threes (as he did in the All-Star Game), and Drummond is so athletic he can defend the pick-and-roll out on the perimeter.

“(Drummond) is a freak of nature,” said Bosh, who himself is a good pick-and-roll defending big on the perimeter. “He’s mobile, he can guard, and he’s very athletic.

“That’s what you need to be. The slower big man is kind of easing out a little bit. If you’re slower, you need that outside touch, it’s very important. But a guy like him, his athleticism helps him survive.”

Bosh hits the nail on the head. The day of Mark Eaton clogging the paint are gone — and it’s because of changes to the rules and changes in players.

The rules changes in 2004 were the first dominoes in what has become a modern NBA — no more hand checking on the perimeter so that skill could show through, and zone defenses were allowed. That first rule means if you have a big who can create a little space and get a shot off on the perimeter, he’s going to be able to operate — think Nowitzki and his one-legged fadeaway.

The zone defense means you’re not just going to be able to throw the ball to a big in the post and let him go to work — if you’ve got a strong post player I can have a defender fronting him and another helping behind before there is even an attempt at an entry pass. It becomes very had to get the ball to a big just standing on the block if the defense makes stopping that a priority. That puts value on bigs who can come out and set the pick then pop out for a jumper — Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol — or can be a beast rolling to the rim (the Clippers’ Jordan).

Bottom line, you must have some versatility to your game.

Modern NBA bigs have that versatility because they grew up idolizing and modeling their game more after Kevin Garnett and Nowitzki than Shaq (because nobody gets the physical gifts of a Shaq but once every generation or three). Today’s bigs come into the league with a range of skills (or, at least, a foundation of them for teams to build on) that allows a coach to use them in different ways depending upon the matchup.

All this doesn’t mean that these bigs don’t want to see the center designation return to the All-Star Ballot. Don’t bet on that happening (although at Adam Silver’s address it was said it would remain on the All-NBA ballot).

And if you ask DeMarcus Cousins, the center position isn’t going anywhere.

“I think the center position is very much alive…. It’s a trendy league, that’s what’s trendy right now,” Cousins said of small ball. “I’m sure that changes again down the road…

“We got a lot of great bigs coming in — Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil (Okafor) — there’s a lot of great talent coming up, so we shouldn’t disrespect the position.”