Author: Kurt Helin

US forward Kevin Durant and US forward K

Kevin Love leaving Team USA not helpful, certainly not devastating either


Kevin Love is a unique talent and one whose game fits well in international basketball — he’s a big man who shot 37.6 percent from three last NBA season to stretch the floor, and for his career he grabs better than 20 percent of the available rebounds when on the court. Plus for Team USA he’s a great outlet passer on a team that wants to run opponents into the ground. He’s a matchup nightmare for other teams.

Team USA will miss him in Spain now that he has dropped out of the World Cup competition for this summer. Also out are power forwards Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. We (and I’ll use “we” here as I’m an American) could have used all of them.

But this is far from devastating for Team USA.

The first thing you need to remember is that assembling a team for international basketball is different from putting together an NBA team. Different style of ball. Think back to the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal teams from the USA, they had just two or three traditional NBA “bigs” on the roster and only one was ever on the court at a time. We saw a lot of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at the four (neither of those men are available for the team this summer).

Bigs who can shoot from deep and provide quickness matter more — and Team USA has that in droves.

As for the power forward position… I’d like you to meet Kevin Durant.

From a guy who knows the international game, Jonathan Givony of

This also opens the door for DeMarcus Cousins and Kenneth Faried, who will be in camp, as well as Anthony Davis (pretty much a lock to make the team) and Andre Drummond.

USA Basketball President Jerry Colangelo spoke with Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports about the opportunities this opens up for others such as Chandler Parsons who can play either the three or four.

While Davis is expected to make the team, Colangelo also spoke highly about the chances for Cousins, Faried and Drummond. Colangelo also sees Parsons and Paul George as candidates to play power forward and space the floor with their shooting against the international competition.

There is one legitimate concern about the NBA’s front line — facing Spain. That would be the second best team in the world (silver medals the last two Olympics) with a front line of Marc and Pau Gasol. You need enough size on the roster to be ready for that matchup. Remember in the 2012 London Olympics gold medal game Spain was right with Team USA until Marc Gasol got in foul trouble. On their home court with their home crowds (the FIBA World Cup takes place in Spain), the USA can’t count on those kinds of breaks.

But the fact is the USA is so deep with talent and athleticism that the loss of talented players — even a Kevin Love — is far from devastating. Team USA is still the favorites and they have plenty of options along the front line. Colangelo put it this way to Marc Stein of ESPN.

“You can’t just sit around and cry in your beer about who you don’t have. You look at what you do have and you say, ‘We’re going to get the job done.’ We feel very confident about our opportunity. We’re ready for it.”

Report: Omri Casspi finalizing one-year contract with Sacramento

Omri Casspi
Leave a comment

It was a little surprising that no team grabbed Omri Casspi off waivers — he’s an experienced NBA forward who can shoot the three ball and was on an NBA minimum contract.

The Kings wanted him but had their reasons to wait. Under the convoluted rules of the CBA if the Kings grabbed him off waivers they would have had his full contract of just over $1 million count against their cap and they are pushing the luxury tax. However, signing him as a free agent to the same deal only counts for about $915,000 against the cap, which lets the Kings also sign Quincy Acy.

That’s what they sides did.

Casspi will be a deep bench guy for the Kings. Last time he was there he played mostly at the three, but Rudy Gay and Travis Outlaw will get the bulk of minutes there. The Kings could use him more as a stretch four (as the Rockets did) off the bench behind Reggie Evans and Carl Landry. Either way he’s going to have to earn his minutes.

That said Casspi keeps his NBA dream going for another season.

Report: NBA considering week-long break for All-Star Game next year

NBA All-Star James, Anthony, Wade, Bosh and Irving look up at the clock in the fourth quarter of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston

This is something a lot of players had requested. Commissioner Adam Silver said last All-Star Break that players had told him they wanted more time off around the All-Star Game.

For guys going to the All-Star Game there is not much of a break — a game Wednesday or maybe Thursday, they fly straight to the host city and have obligations and events from Friday through Sunday, then they are back on the court the next Tuesday. They rightfully say they don’t get much rest. As for guys not in the All-Star game who are supposed to get five days off (but it’s really four thanks to a mandated practice day)… who doesn’t want more vacation time?

Players had requested a week-long All-Star break and they may get it starting next season in New York, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

The NBA is poised to turn the All-Star break into All-Star week this coming season, the Sun Sentinel has learned, providing teams with a full week off at midseason.

The move, which would give players seven days off between games in mid-February, would result in an increase of one or two back-to-back sets per team for the coming season, a party familiar with the process said.

“That’s the model they’re using right now while they’re filling in the schedule,” an NBA source familiar with the process told the Sun Sentinel Friday. “Could they go back and use some of those dates if needed? That’s possible. But the week off looks like what’s going to happen.”

The NBA’s schedule is supposed to be released in August, with move of LeBron James to Cleveland forcing the league’s television partners to reconsider what would be the marquee games on what days. A week off in the middle also would force some shifts in the calendar.

I’m good with this week off. On the court, it means more time off to rest injuries, plus tired legs and minds, which should mean a higher level of play to follow.

Plus, that week we’re all talking about the trade deadline anyway. It’s not like the NBA is going to be out of the news cycle.

However, this is not the kind of concession Adam Silver and the owners are going to just give the players for free. This is the kind of thing that comes up in collective bargaining when Silver starts talking about having a 20-year-old age limit (or some other priority of Silver and the owners). There’s no such thing as a free week off.

Top 10 dunks of Las Vegas Summer League (VIDEO)

Andrew Wiggins

I know we said we were done with Summer League…. but can you think of a better way to start your weekend than a bunch of dunks from Las Vegas? Of course you can’t. There is no better way.

My favorite of these (and one I saw live) was the Andrew Wiggins spin move and dunk. That was the one where you got a real glimpse of the potential they will enjoy in Cleveland (or Minnesota, more likely).

The Trail Blazers put on a dunking show and there were plenty of other good ones in what was an exhibition of athleticism in the desert. Enjoy.

Report: Omri Casspi clears waivers, will land with Kings on one-year contract

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings
Leave a comment

UPDATE 8:07 p.m. ET: Marc Stein of reports that Casspi will land with the Kings on a one-year minimum contract.

5:59 p.m.: That Omri Casspi — on a minimum contract — wasn’t claimed off waivers doesn’t speak all that well to what teams around the league think of his value.

Casspi has been a financial pawn all summer. The Rockets traded him to the Pelicans as part of the Omer Asik cap-clearing deal, then the Pelicans cut him free a few days ago as expected. That put him on the waiver wire, where any team could snatch up his minimum contract (and still cut him loose again by Aug. 5 if they wanted).

A 6’9” forward who can shoot the three and gave the Rockets 6.7 points in 18 minutes a game last season and is just 25 playing on a minimum contract looks like a value, one that franchises like the Kings (where he started his career) might want to grab.

Nope. Marc Stein of ESPN with the news.

(Stein went on to say grabbing Casspi might have put the Kings over the luxury tax line, but by passing on him then signing him as a free agent he doesn’t take them over the line under the rules and that lets the Kings keep Quincy Acy. Look for that to play out.)

Now any team can sign him.

The Israeli native would make far more money overseas on a much bigger contract, but he has not let yet his NBA dream die.