Kurt Helin

Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan dunking on Nigeria in USA exhibition

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Nigeria played hard. But they wanted to run and play an up-tempo game against the Americans in the final exhibition game for both teams before the Rio Olympics. You can see why Nigeria wanted to run —they didn’t want to face the USA’s half court defense. The problem is they didn’t have the athletes to run with the Americans.

The results were another USA blowout win. And some highlights. Like Kevin Durant‘s Eurostep dunk above.

Or DeMar DeRozan going baseline and skying for the slam.



Report: Warriors sign journeyman Elliott Williams to partially guaranteed contract

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The Golden State Warriors have 14 guaranteed spots on their roster filled. They also don’t have a ton on minutes remaining in the backcourt: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will start, Shaun Livingston comes off the bench.

But the Warriors are going to give veteran Elliott Williams a chance, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Not exactly sure what a “strong guarantee” means, but Williams will get the chance to show he is back from the torn Achilles he suffered in 2012. He’s a combo guard, something the Warriors like. He’s been a D-League All-Star two years running and averaged 28.4 points a game for Santa Cruz last season (and shot 34 percent from three). He was picked up on a 10-day contract with the Grizzlies but didn’t stick. He has never really stuck in the NBA.

Is he now going to suddenly stick on the best roster in the NBA? I’m not sure he’s going to be a step up over rookie Patrick McCaw on the bench, but Williams will get his chance.

Paul George, Kyrie Irving sit out USA’s final exhibition game Monday night

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In Las Vegas, when asked about balancing club and country for these players, USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski talked at length about not pushing too hard on guys such as Draymond Green or Kevin Durant or others who had deep playoff runs.

We get the first evidence of that Monday night, when the USA plays its final pre-Olympics exhibition game, taking on Nigeria in Houston.

Kyrie Irving will sit out with a left thigh contusion.

Paul Geroge will sit out due to a left calf injury.

Neither are considered serious injuries, this is more precautionary than anything else. Which is what Coach K should be doing — it’s an exhibition the USA could win handily with the Select Team. No reason to overdo it now, or even in the early games of the Olympics.

Rumor: Celtics will not extend Kelly Olynyk, let him be restricted free agent next summer


This is a rumor, but it’s also just logical.

Kelly Olynyk has shown flashes of quality play, and he certainly can stretch the floor (he shot 40.5 percent from three last season), but he also battled multiple injuries — including off-season shoulder surgery this summer that kept him from competing with Canada as the country tried to qualify in Olympic basketball.

This summer he is eligible for a contract extension off his rookie deal, but the Celtics are more likely to wait a year and let him become a restricted free agent, reports Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

Forward/center Kelly Olynyk is eligible to sign a long-term deal before the Oct. 30 deadline but the Celtics are likely to wait until next summer to determine whether to invest in him long term. This is a critical season for Olynyk, who is coming off shoulder surgery. He will be depended on to be the floor-stretching sharpshooter the Celtics have desired the past three years. Olynyk has missed 43 games over his first three seasons, primarily because of injuries. The Celtics want more toughness and consistency from their former first-round pick

Waiting is the smart play here for Boston, as is keeping its options open heading into next season (where Danny Ainge continues to look for another star to put next to Al Horford).

Olynyk has value. He can stretch the floor, had a 57.7 eFG% on catch-and-shoot attempts, can score around the rim, shows good passing gifts, and the Celtics were 5.2 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents when he was on the court last season. Yes, he needs to be stronger on the boards and defensively (he’s not a rim protector), but a number of NBA teams could use him in a rotation spot.

Which means, Olynyk is going to get a healthy pay bump next summer. But the Celtics don’t need to jump the gun to give it to him.

Luke Walton throws strike with first pitch at Dodger Game

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Luke Walton is better at this than Nick Young.

The new Laker coach was out at Chavez Ravine to throw out the first pitch before the Dodgers dropped a game to the Diamondbacks on Saturday night. And in a world where we usually are happy if hoop stars usually just get the ball close to the plate, Walton threw a strike (one up in the zone that would have gotten rocked, but give the guy a break).

You need to forward to about the 3:30 mark of the video above to get the actual pitch.