Kurt Helin

Thunder assistant Monty Williams to miss remainder of season

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams will not return to the team this season as he continues to help his family heal following the death of his wife, Ingrid.

The Thunder made the announcement Friday.

On Feb. 9, an oncoming car crossed the center line and hit Ingrid Williams’ SUV near downtown Oklahoma City. Ingrid Williams died the next day, and Monty Williams has not coached since. Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement that the most important things are for Williams to be with his family and for the Thunder to support him.

Williams is in his first season as an assistant for Billy Donovan. He was head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans last season, when he led the franchise to the playoffs.

Williams is also an assistant coach with USA Basketball, which has said he can take all the time he needs in deciding if he wants to join the team for the Rio Olympics.

(NBC’s Kurt Helin added to this story.)

Phil Jackson says he, Carmelo Anthony talked, ‘Melo still cornerstone of Knicks

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For a team that has fast faded from the playoff picture in recent months, the Knicks are still making headlines. Because of Kristaps Porzingis. Because they fired Derek Fisher and brought Kurt Rambis is as an interim, and Phil Jackson wanted his friend to succeed. Because Kevin Durant is looking elsewhere.

There are three looming questions with the Knicks heading into this summer:

Who is the next head coach?

Is Phil Jackson wed to the triangle? (This will impact free agency and ties into the question above.)

Is Carmelo Anthony part of the Knicks future?

Jackson spoke with the media Friday in Los Angeles and, at least, discussed the last of those questions. From Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal,

Up to this point, Anthony has not been willing to waive his no-trade clause, and he has said he wants to be active in recruiting free agents to the Knicks this summer (although his reported targets may not be the best options). I believe he wants to help bring respectability and eventually a contender to NYC.

But this summer his 15 percent trade kicker becomes valuable (it couldn’t go above the max salary before, but this summer’s salary cap spike means the max goes up and the kicker is in play). He agrees to leave, he gets more money. He’s only going to go to a contender, and likely in a major market (he and his wife like NYC), but the money, at least, opens a discussion that wasn’t going anywhere before.

Jackson also discussed other issues around the Knicks.

Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor to undergo surgery on right knee meniscus, done for season

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We know the Sixers’ history, they are going to be cautious when their young stars suffers an injury.

Which is why we will not see any more Jahlil Okafor this season. Here is GM Sam Hinkie, from the official press release Friday:

“Jahlil recently started to experience discomfort in his right knee, which we immediately investigated. As a comprehensive series of tests and additional evaluations by our medical team, it was revealed he has a small tear of the meniscus. Jahlil will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure to address the injury. Timing and details of the procedure will be finalized in the coming days.

“Our medical team will continually monitor and evaluate Jahlil’s progress, and we anticipate he will resume full basketball activities in about six weeks.”

That is after the season and means his summer workout program.

Hopefully this is not serious, as the Sixers made it sound. With a meniscus tear the options are removal or trim and repair, the latter is better for the player long-term and it sounds like what the Sixers are looking at considering the recovery time and his youth (removals, as was done with Dwyane Wade years ago, are rare now).

After being drafted No. 3, Okafor had an impressive rookie season — 17.3 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting, with a PER of 17.4 — which is what most expected. He was the most NBA-ready of the top draft picks last June, but not the one with the highest ceiling.

Still he has looked like someone who can be a central piece of what the Sixers are slowly building in Philly. He and Nerlens Noel are going to be good NBA players, even if they can’t play next to each other on the front line.

PBT Podcast: Knicks future, DeMarcus Cousins, Twitter questions with Dan Feldman

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Is it somehow a surprise that Phil Jackson wanted his friend Kurt Rambis to succeed in New York?

Or that Kevin Durant isn’t interested in the Knicks?

Or that DeMarcus Cousins is frustrated and lashing out in Sacramento?

It shouldn’t be, but those are the news stories of the day, which Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk discuss in this podcast. Other topics include your Twitter questions on the Bucks, Lakers and if Durant could end up in Toronto.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Nuggets’ Will Barton with sweet double-pump dunk (VIDEO)

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Will Barton knows how to throw it down. He just picked the wrong year to enter the dunk contest.

The Nuggets’ Barton has been throwing down amazing in-game dunks all season, and you can add this double-pump to the mix. The Nuggets got to the rim all night and became the latest team to put the beatdown on the struggling Suns, 116-98. Barton had 17 off the bench.