Kurt Helin

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers

Report: Kings near deal for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

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Luc Mbah a Moute spent an entire nine games with the Sacramento Kings before he was traded to Minnesota two seasons ago. Then last summer the Timberwolves used him as a salary balancing bit part of the three-team Kevin Love trade, and Mbah a Moute ended up in Philadelphia. There he played relatively well for a season — relative to the rest of the Sixers roster, we mean. At least he was a professional that hustled every time he was on the court and understood how to play the game.

Now the Cameroonian forward is looking for a new landing spot, and it may be Sacramento, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

This is likely a league minimum deal or something close to it.

The Kings have the athletic but raw and inexperienced Willie Cauley-Stein at the four, they could use a professional, veteran, mentor for him and Mbah a Moute can provide that. That said, Mbah a Moute may have averaged 9.9 points a game last season in Philly, but he isn’t going to get the touches to do that in Sacramento. He’d have to take a smaller role.

Apparently he’s ready to do that.

Report: Wizards to get serious about Bradley Beal contract extension

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards
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The first couple weeks of NBA free agency are a frenzy — meetings, phone calls, texts and the occasional agreement or trade has NBA GMs a big overwhelmed at times.

But now that the pace of things is slowing down, the Washington Wizards can focus on one of their top priorities — keeping Bradley Beal.

Washington and Beal are going to start talking about an extension to his rookie deal, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

Contacted early Sunday, agent Mark Bartelstein said actual negotiations with Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld will go forward as early as this upcoming week. “We had to get past that first nine or 10 days of free agency. With that chaotic period over, Ernie and I will talk and see where we are,” Bartelstein told CSN.

Beal is going into the final year of his rookie scale contract that pays him $4.7 million for 2015-16. The sides have until the start of the season to work out a deal and if they don’t talks will be tabled until next summer when Beal becomes a restricted free agent.

Beal had an inconsistent season where averaged 15.3 points a game shooting 40.9 percent from three, plus he head injuries including a stress reaction in his right leg for the third year in a row. All that might have the Wizards hesitant to hand over a lot of cash to Beal. On the flip side, he led the team with 23.4 points a game in the playoffs.

The Wizards would like to get Beal locked up now on this year’s salary cap, even if they overpay a little the deal will not look bad when the cap spikes by $40 million over the next two years. The only reason not to is to keep flexibility to chase hometown guy Kevin Durant a year from now (something considered a bit of a longshot around the league).

If Beal is a restricted free agent next year when every team has cap space to burn, he could get a larger offer. For Beal, he probably would like the financial security considering his injury history.

The question is can they agree upon a number. We shall see.

News, Notes from a Summer League Sunday: Kings fans are going to love Willie Cauley-Stein

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LAS VEGAS — The PBT team is in Sin City for NBA Summer League and it is an ever-growing event — two games going on at a time, coaches and GMs chatting, guys nobody really knows making a name for themselves, and plenty of just random sightings and happenings.

Here’s some of what you missed by not being in Las Vegas before the thermometer hit 100. (Notes come from Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin.)

• Kings fans, you should be happy, there’s a lot to like with Willie Cauley-Stein. He’s a bit raw, but you can see real potential. With his length, he’s disruptive in the paint. But he not just long and athletic, he anticipates well on defense, he plays a pretty smart game on that end. Plus he just hustles. On one play he had a block on one end, then sprinted to the other end and kept Nikola Jokic off his spot in the post. He doesn’t have much range on offense (and his post ups are not things of beauty), but he uses that athleticism to finish fairly well at the rim and had 15 points on 13 shots. (KH)

• When DeMarcus Cousins walked in the arena (with GM Vlade Divac) to watch the Kings play, the healthy number of Kings fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation. George Karl should note where the fan allegiances lie. (KH)

• Former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet is playing for the D-League Select squad in this year’s Summer League, and he unlocked the ultra-rare “get ejected from a Summer League game” achievement. (SH)

• After his outstanding Bulls Summer League debut on Saturday, Bobby Portis had a letdown in Sunday’s loss to the Raptors. He shot 1-for-10 from the field and generally looked overmatched. “I’m not worried about Bobby,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said afterwards. “He’s 6-foot-10 and has an outstanding motor.” With a loaded frontcourt, the Bulls can afford to bring Portis along slowly, but there have been flashes of his versatility at times in Summer League. (SH)

• Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay skipped college to play a year in China professionally. Would he recommend that for other players?

“That’s on your parents, man,” Mudiay said. He added it really depends on the guy and what they want to accomplish, where they are as a person and with their family. “It helped me, it benefitted me as a player, but for a big man it’s probably different,” adding that Europe may be better for bigs than China.

Be sure to check out PBT tomorrow for more from Mudiay. (KH)

• Check out the Spurs’ Jonathan Simmons putting on a show.

• Among those looking impressive for Denver was second-round pick Nikola Jokic, who had 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks in 23 minutes. He showed some shooting range out to the three-point line and he moved well for a big man. He’s someone to keep an eye on, he needs to develop, but he is interesting. (KH)

• Celtics first-round pick and point guard Terry Rozier knows how to attack and he put up an impressive line — 22 points on 9 shots. He got to the line 13 times and knocked down 12. He also dished out five assists. (KH)

 

Quote of the Day: Steve Kerr jokes Popovich should quit coaching if he can’t win title with new roster

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors
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“You look at what San Antonio did getting Aldridge, I mean if they don’t win the whole thing next year it’s clearly the coach’s fault. I mean if Pop can’t win the whole thing with that roster then he has no business coaching in this league.”

—Golden State coach Steve Kerr, on NBA TV during the Warriors’ Summer League game, talking about the Western Conference.

You have to love the relationship between Gregg Popovich and Kerr (remember Kerr played for Popovich and picked up a couple rings in San Antonio, 1999 and 2003). They love to take little, friendly, locker-room style shots at each other.

A lot of people want to know who is better now, the Spurs after adding LaMarcus Aldridge or the reigning champion Warriors. My first thought is, it’s best not to leave the Clippers and Thunder out of the discussion of who can win the West. I will say with this likely being Tim Duncan’s last year I think the Spurs will be very hungry.

(Hat tip NBA Reddit)

 

It’s official: Thunder match offer sheet, keep Enes Kanter

Portland Trail Blazers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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In the end, Oklahoma City didn’t have a choice.

If they didn’t match Portland’s four-year, $70 million offer sheet for Enes Kanter they would essentially be telling Kevin Durant “we aren’t willing to go into the luxury tax to get you closer to a title,” which would be a foolish with KD becoming a free agent next summer.

No team may have ever been in a more win-now place than OKC this year.

So the Thunder have matched the offer sheet and will keep Kanter, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti informed Portland of his decision to retain Kanter on Sunday night, league sources told Yahoo. Enes’ deal includes a player option on the fourth year and a 15 percent trade kicker bonus….

Oklahoma City feels immense pressure to show star Kevin Durant a strong commitment to winning in the final year of his contract, and Kanter is an important part of the Thunder’s nucleus. The possibility of losing a young player of Kanter’s talent for no assets was extremely remote for the Thunder. Presti had planned his payroll and roster for the possibility of a maximum offer sheet, sources said.

The team has since confirmed it.

“We traded for Enes last season with the intention of keeping him as a member of the Thunder for several years to come, and we are excited that he will continue with us,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti in a statement. “He adds valuable depth to our roster, diversity to our frontcourt and the dimension that he brings offensively will positively impact our team.”

Marc Stein of ESPN breaks down the numbers.

Even if Durant re-signs for the max, the Thunder will be under the tax line in 2016-17.

The Thunder need Kanter to bring them some offense in the paint and a five who can help space the floor and create driving lanes for Russell Westbrook and Durant (Oklahoma City’s offense was 3.5 points per 100 better when he was on the court for them last season). The Thunder have Serge Ibaka as their starting four with Nick Collison behind him. At the five there would be Kanter and Steven Adams in rotation — they can play for offense or defense — plus they have Mitch McGary behind them. That’s a quality rotation.

We need to note Kanter is a defensive liability — OKC’s defense was 6.5 points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the floor than when he was sitting. And they still had a terrible defensive rating of 107.5 per 100 when Kanter and Ibaka were paired.

But this was the only move the Thunder could make.