Kurt Helin

porzingis

Phil Jackson’s concern: Could Kristaps Porzingis turn out like Shawn Bradley?

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Shawn Bradley wasn’t as bad as Twitter seems to remember him, even if he ended up on the wrong end of a lot of dunks. The 7’6″ center with a stick-figure build had six NBA triple-doubles — not with assists but with blocks — and was double-digit a game scorer with a PER above the league average at his peak. He lasted a dozen seasons in the league.

Still he is widely seen as a bust (it doesn’t help that Penny Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn were taken right after Bradley). He was so thin he simply could be muscled around by guys with lower centers of gravity.

Could the same thing happen to Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis?

Phil Jackson backs his man but expressed this concern at the possibility when speaking to Charlie Rosen at ESPN.

Jackson projects that Porzingis will add at least 10 pounds of muscle before his first season commences, yet concerns still linger over his prize draft pick. “Like Shawn Bradley, who was nevertheless a pretty good player, KP might almost be too tall for the game. What I mean is that his core strength might never be good enough, and that he might not be able to get low enough to get himself into prime defensive position to body power rebounders or drivers.”

Porzingis showed promise at Summer League, but what also was clear was his need to put on some weight and get stronger because guys like Jahlil Okafor pushed him around with ease. And even if he puts on that weight, as Jackson said his center of gravity may be too high. That said, he showed a skill for using his length to compensate.

Porzingis showed far more skill and potential on offense than Bradley did — and he showed some shot-blocking chops. Not Bradley level, but he could develop into a rim protector.

It’s far, far too early to say how any of this draft class will turn out (Summer League is not a good predictor). But if I were a Knicks fan, I’d not be too worried about the Bradley comparison.

 

DeMarcus Cousins’ response to latest trade rumors: “Blah blah blah”

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings
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Nobody seems to be as sick of DeMarcus Cousins’ trade rumors as DeMarcus Cousins.

Those rumors are not going anywhere in the short-term. The latest ones came from Howard Beck in a post at Bleacher Report in a video about guys who start the season on the trade block:

“Sacramento, I think, wants to hold onto him. Certainly the onwer Vivek Ranadive absolutely wants to hold onto DeMarcus Cousins. But I’ve been told if you polled the rest of the organization, the vast majority are in favor of trading DeMarcus Cousins and that would include, though he denies it, coach George Karl.”

Cousins’ reaction to this?

Then that was quickly echoed by the Kings’ front office.

The Kings are not going to trade Cousins in the short term. It’s just not going to happen — if your biggest supporter in the organization is the owner, you’re in a position of power.

Can Cousins and Karl get along? That remains to be seen. But if the players can be unified — even if it is in opposition to Karl — this is a team with some real talent and some potential, even in a deep West.

That all starts with Cousins as a cornerstone piece. Which is why you don’t trade him.

Report: Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas nearing four-year, $60 million contract extension

Raptors Media Day
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Big men in the NBA get paid.

Jonas Valanciunas is a big man — officially 7’1″, 255 pounds — who is a skilled scorer near the basket (he averaged 12 points a game on 57 percent shooting last season). He’s got some holes in his game (he’s not a great rim protector, his passing needs work) but still big men get paid.

And he’s going to get paid with a healthy contract extension to his rookie deal, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. Although he’s taking a little less than I expected.

The two sides had until Nov. 1 to get a deal done, but they got it done early.

Because he’s a big and next summer around 20 NBA teams may have max salary money (thanks to the coming spike in the salary cap from the new television deal), it was possible he would push for a max contract extension, which would have started at around $19 million per year. If he had waited until next summer, he would have gotten the max from somebody.

However, like a lot of players did this summer, Valanciunas appears willing to take a little less (although still a large sum) for the security of getting it done and staying in a situation he likes. It’s the bird in the hand theory, and when you saw the rash of injuries around the league last year it’s understandable. He’s about to make the kind of money that sets a family up for generations, you can’t fault him for wanting to lock that down now.

On the court, the Raptors tweaked their roster this summer to become more defensive minded, bringing in DeMarre Carroll for example. But for it all to work on both ends Valanciunas is going to have to take a step forward. He has to become a better defensive presence in the paint. He has to diversify his offensive game.

He’s got to play like a guy who deserves the extension he is about to land.

Kobe Bryant uses classic video to respond to critics (he means you, Charles Barkley)

2015 BET Experience - Genius Talks Presented By AT&T
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Charles Barkley gets paid handsomely to give his unfiltered opinions, and he did just that about Kobe Bryant recently:

“I hope he retires, because I don’t want to see — I probably played two years too long. I hate to see Patrick Ewing, great as he was, struggle — I don’t like seeing great players just out there, you know? Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards, that didn’t do anything for me. Kobe’s obviously not going to walk away from $30 million. This should be like a farewell tour, play 20, 25 minutes a night. The Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. Could he play some more? Yeah, of course. His best days are behind him. I hear these fools on TV, talking about, ‘Kobe’s going to get healthy.’ Old people don’t get healthy; they die. Old people don’t get healthy. Father Time is undefeated.”

Kobe took to Twitter to respond, and while he didn’t mention any names we pretty much know who he was talking about.

First off, very savvy response from Kobe. That’s how you fire back on Twitter.

Second, nothing scares Kobe. Ever.

source:

What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics
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EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

CROATIA
Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

FRANCE
Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

GERMANY
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

GREECE
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

ITALY
Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

ISRAEL
Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

LITHUANIA
Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

POLAND
Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA
Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

SERBIA
Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

SPAIN
Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

TURKEY
Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

UKRAINE
Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)