Author: Kurt Helin

2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice

Kevin Durant knows you’re talking about his free agency but isn’t giving many clues. He liked what LeBron did.


LAS VEGAS — Kevin Durant knows you’re talking about him. Specifically, where he might play starting in the fall of 2016 after he becomes a free agent and signs a new contract.

“It’s been talked about. Everybody’s asked me about it every time I go on Instagram or Twitter. All my friends ask me about it,” Durant said at Team USA Camp in Las Vegas. “So I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m naive to the fact that people think about that stuff. But I just tell everybody, ‘Look, I’m here in Oklahoma City. I love it here. Who knows what’ll happen?'”

That’s not exactly going to quiet the chatter. Nor is it going to tamp down the hopes of Wizards fans (Durant is a Washington D.C. native) or other fan bases from New York to Los Angeles that believe they have a shot at Durant in 2016.

Durant was pressed by reporters to talk about his future Tuesday after another day of Team USA practice in Las Vegas. To his credit, he didn’t dodge the questions, he answered them seemingly honestly.

Durant genuinely doesn’t seem to know what he’s going to do in two summers — nor should he. That’s a long time away. He very well may decide to stay with the Thunder (especially if they win a ring). But two years is a couple lifetimes in the NBA and, as Durant said, who knows what will happen.

If you’re looking for clues to how Durant is thinking, you can try to parse out what he said when asked what he thought of LeBron James’ decision to return to his home and play for the Cavaliers again.

“It was class act,” Durant said of LeBron’s letter. “Great move to do a letter, that was pretty cool. It’s fun to see a guy think about more than just basketball for once, or themselves. I’m not saying LeBron always thinks about himself. But he thought about ‘where do we come from?’ Northeast Ohio. How he can affect some little kids and be an advisor for them. I love that. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making their decision on what’s best for them instead of what’s best for everybody else. We got to respect him. I applauded him. I texted him to tell him congratulations on his decision. I was happy for him.”

Expect Durant to take a big picture view like that when it’s his turn. What does that mean? It’s impossible to say two years out.

Which means the speculation and chatter are just going to grow. For a long time.

Derrick Rose told Carmelo Anthony that if he came to Chicago “the game would be easy”

2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice

LAS VEGAS — Derrick Rose is not the guy who is going to call up a free agent every day and recruit him. He has the back of the guys in his locker room — he wants someone to choose to join them, to choose to come into that locker room, not to have to be dragged.

But that doesn’t mean Rose didn’t want Carmelo Anthony to come to Chicago.

In Las Vegas with Team USA, Rose talked about his message to Anthony when the two spoke.

“That if he was to come, that the game would be easy,’’ Rose said. “I don’t know how easy but of course it would be easy. And that we wanted him. Just plain and simple, we wanted him to come. He decided to go somewhere else. But it’s no hard feelings. I can’t get mad at the decision he made. He’s a grown man.’’

Rose said he was disappointed that Anthony chose to stay in New York, but he also understood — this isn’t just about what happens on the court.

“If you put yourself in that decision, that’s a hard decision,” Rose said. “You got your family to think about. You got money to think about. Not to say you should think about money. But when you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars, you can’t just put that behind you. So I’m not mad with the decision that he made and I wish him nothing but the best.’’

Chicago did okay for itself this summer, adding Pau Gasol to the front line. If Rose is back to himself — and he looked good, with a more mature game, at least at the first day of Team USA training camp — then the Bulls can compete with anyone in the East. They have their identity and know how to play their system, there is no big learning curve.

But Carmelo Anthony would have brought another dimension to that system on offense.

PBT Extra: Is this the end of Donald Sterling as NBA owner?

Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

Donald Sterling isn’t going to go away because, well, he’s Donald Sterling. He’s old and bitter and insanely rich so he can pay attorneys to harass people for as long as he lives.

But a judge’s ruling Monday signals an end to Donald Sterling the NBA owner — the judge took extraordinary steps to ensure the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion can go through.

In the latest PBT Extra NBC’s Matt Stroup and I discuss the team’s Clippers’ sale and if players and Doc Rivers were serious about boycotting games (they were).

Is DeMarcus Cousins the big man Team USA can lean on?

DeMarcus Cousins

LAS VEGAS — Team USA is going to go small this summer.

In the final scrimmage on Monday they ran a lineup with Kevin Durant as the four and Anthony Davis as the center, and that likely will be your starters when the USA gets to Spain for the World Cup. On the other side of that same scrimmage Chandler Parsons played power forward with Paul Millsap getting a shot at center. Small ball.

But the USA needs some real size because Spain — the runner up to the USA the last two Olympics, and a team that starts Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol up front — is looming. The question is who will be that other big man?

In the limited action the media saw from Day 1 of Team USA training camp, DeMarcus Cousins looked like the next best big man.

The Sacramento center had a nice chemistry with Kyrie Irving on the pick-and-roll getting a couple buckets diving toward the rim. Cousins was making more plays on the defensive end where he blocked a Paul George jumper and shut down James Harden driving the lane. Team USA needs active bigs in their system and Cousins was that.

“I believe what (coach Mike Krzyzewski) wants from me is to be a physical specimen, be a defensive anchor, control the paint. Be a dominant force in there….” Cousins said, adding it’s an adjustment to jump into playing 5-on-5 at this level in the middle of summer. “Everything happened so fast out there I don’t know who made what pass, we’re just playing basketball.”

Of course, the question with Cousins has never been talent. It’s the mentality side — international basketball allows far more physicality than the NBA game and Cousins can pick up fouls and technicals out of frustration trying to deal with those calls (or lack of them). Team USA doesn’t have room for that.

While Cousins looked good Andre Drummond was making plays too and if he can keep his head about him while Cousins can’t the choice is easy.

Has Cousins matured enough to make the Team USA roster for Spain? If he has he’s the best man for the job. If not, Coach K will move on quickly.

As always with Cousins, it all comes back to his attitude and maturity. But so far he has looked like a guy Team USA can count on.

Charles Barkley offers to pay for funerals of Philadelphia carjacking victims

2013 NBA Finals - Game Three

Charles Barkley is still tied to the city of Philadelphia, where he started his NBA career.

That city has been rocked by the tragic death of three innocent children, ages 7 to 15, who were selling fruit at a stand as a church fundraiser when they were run over by a car that had been carjacked not long before. It’s a sickening event that has left their mother critically wounded as well.

Barkley has stepped up and offered to pay for the funerals of the children, reports

NBA legend and former Philadelphia 76er Charles Barkley has offered to pay for the funerals of three siblings killed after a carjacking went awry in the city last week, according to District Attorney Seth Williams.

Ten-year-old Thomas Reed, his 15-year-old sister Keiearra Williams and their 7-year-old brother Terrence Moore were mowed down by a SUV and ki
lled on a street corner in the Tioga section of the city Friday while selling fruit.

Barkley the analyst can grate on you after a while (although TNT’s Inside the NBA remains must-watch in large part because of him) but Barkley the person is giving and generous to a fault. Spend time around him, hear stories of him from food servers or limo drivers or just about anyone his life has touched, and you find a guy that feels fortunate for what he has and wants to give back.

This is both a great example of that and a great gesture.

For those that haven’t followed the story nationally, the men driving the SUV have been arrested and face charges of second-degree murder, robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and a few others. These guys should not see the outside of a prison ever again.