Author: Kurt Helin

LeBron rings billboard

“You’re Welcome LeBron” billboard with picture of Heat rings goes up in Akron


That billboard is now up in Akron. You can thank Miami-based Dan Le Batard for that (via @JeremyinAkron).

The writer for the Miami Herald better known for his ESPN Radio and television shows had tried to buy a newspaper ad to “thank” LeBron James for his time in Miami, which ended this summer when LeBron decided to return home.

In the same way you can’t blame LeBron for choosing to return home, you can’t blame Miami fans for feeling betrayed (the serious ones among them anyway, some of the bandwagon ones may not realize LeBron left until next season tips off). LeBron went to four Finals in four years with the Heat, can’t ask for a lot more than that.

Miami fans will have to console themselves with the fact they live in Miami. On the bright side, the Heat are a strong organization that should be back on top faster than the Dolphins become good again.

UPDATE: ESPN has suspended Le Batard two days for this stunt.

Report: Shawn Marion leaning towards deal with Cavaliers, Pacers could make late push but likely will not

Shawn Marion, Tony Parker

It could come down to this for Shawn Marion: What does he want more, money or winning?

While Dallas had talked about re-signing him the pursuit of Marion seems to have come down to two Eastern Conference teams: Cleveland and Indiana. The Cavaliers offer the chance to win right now, the Pacers are not going to be contenders this season but potentially could offer more money.

Right now it looks like Cleveland and winning is in the lead, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

In theory, the Pacers can offer more money, or at least will be able to soon, as they have applied for the disabled player exception, reports David Aldridge of That would allow them to sign a player for up to $5.3 million, which even a portion of is more than the Cavaliers could offer.

But we say in theory here for a reason — even if the Pacers waive their unguaranteed contracts they are about $1.7 million below the luxury tax line that the team is not going to cross. (Remember, Paul George’s max contract still counts against the cap.) So unless there are some salary dump moves, the Pacers in practice can’t offer much more money than Cleveland.

And if the money is close, you’d take winning and the chance at a ring.

Which is why Marion to Cleveland probably happens. That would be a nice solid bench player for the Cavs to add. Marion averaged 10.4 points a game with a respectable .537 true shooting percentage and he shot 35 percent from three. This is a team that could use his kind of veteran depth.

PBT Extra: Spurs hire Becky Hammon for basketball reasons

Spurs Hammon Basketball

What you have to love about the Spurs is they don’t waste words talking about “being proactive” or energy thinking about the PR implications or whatever other corporate buzz words you want to use, they just do what they think is best.

Hiring Becky Hammon as the first full-time, fully paid female assistant coach in NBA history was done for basketball reasons alone. And it seems a good move.

In the latest edition of PBT Extra we discuss the hiring of Hammon, why San Antonio is the perfect spot to start (veteran team, coach who will deflect some of the distractions) and how at the end of the day this is what progress looks like.

Jeremy Lin dunks on his mom (Instagram)

Jeremy Lin

In regular NBA games, Lakers’ guard Jeremy Lin does not get to dunk on people often.

But on his unsuspecting mother walking into her kitchen… he can sky on her and throw it down.

Part of Lin’s popularity is that he’s good at the social media game and he is putting together an Instagram contest of these kinds of unsuspecting dunks, so he put up a few of his own. I like it.

In fact, excuse me, I’m heading over to my parent’s place to dunk on my mom. I know she will not see it coming.

Scalabrine says Mark Jackson didn’t push Warriors’ players hard enough

Boston Celtics v Golden State Warriors

There are a number of reasons Mark Jackson is not now the coach of the Golden State Warriors. While some of that is on-the-court — management thought the Warriors offense was too vanilla — a lot of it was just a divide of organizational vs. locker room culture and how both Jackson and ownership dealt with that.

But there may have been another basketball issue — did Jackson push his players hard enough?

Former Warriors’ assistant coach Brian Scalabrine — who was demoted to the D-league in the middle of last season and has an ax to grind — said he didn’t think Jackson was demanding enough. Scalabrine, who is returning to the media side of the table in Boston for this season, spoke with the Bay Area News Group about Jackson’s coaching style.

“I think to win in this league you have to drive and push, and I feel like the players will respond to that,” Scalabrine said. “And I think that was the biggest thing about this disappointment in our staff as a staff, right? We could have done more, and we didn’t, and I think he kind of sensed that.

“At the end of the day, to say it was a difference of philosophy, a difference of opinion, I mean, that’s really what it was. And I’m so used to seeing like a Doc Rivers and a Tom Thibodeau (his former coaches), and it kind of threw me for like kind of a loop and a surprise that it was not as hard-pressing as I thought it was going to be.”

Thibodeau is an old-school, grinder coach who works his guys hard, plays them hard and demands accountability each time out. Rivers is different in style, there is no coach in the league who cancels in-season practice more than Rivers (it’s not close), but he does demand a high-level of performance from a veteran team. Rivers has the advantage of having Chris Paul (and Blake Griffin and others) in his locker room to demand that accountability from teammates.

But all great coaches demand a lot of their players. Doesn’t matter the level or the sport, the best coaches set the bar high and challenge/motivate/teach players to reach it. One of Phil Jackson’s great gifts was that he convinced players that where the bar was set or what role they needed to play to get there was their own idea, not his (we all buy into our own ideas faster than those imposed on us).

Jackson certainly worked hard as a player and led teammates to get to that level, but doing it as a coach is a different dynamic.

That said, the players on that team LOVED Jackson and didn’t like how his exit went down (notice there were no “looking forward to working with Steve Kerr” tweets when he was hired). They played hard for him, if not always smart.

Whether Kerr can get that same level of commitment and whether he can push those players harder remains to be seen. But he needs to if he wants to best his predecessor.