Kurt Helin

Kings unveil well done new logos; part of rebranding of franchise


There is a lot of rebranding going on with the Sacramento Kings.

Some of that they are trying to make happen on the court, which will start when they bring in a new coach (results pending on that part).

However, more may be happening off the court with the team about to move into an impressive new building in downtown Sacramento. Part of that was the unveiling of the new team logos on Tuesday.

I like the new logos (you can see them above), which are both retro and updated, and it’s a clean look.

The Kings are a franchise that could use an image change. There was a time a little more than a decade ago when they were near the NBA mountaintop, but it’s been a steady slide since then — including the team almost moving out of town. There were questionable management decisions first by the former owners the Maloofs (as their personal fortunes dwindled), then by the new owner Vivek Ranadive, who has had a rough learning curve on the job. On the court, there has been a parade of coaches but no playoffs for a decade. The building they were in felt old. The word dysfunction seemed to fit too many moves and decisions.

The Kings see this summer as a fresh new start. The logos are part of that, and it’s a good first step.

The new building in downtown Sacramento should be a big leap regarding image. I’ve been fortunate to tour the facility (more details to follow on that another day), and it feels like another thing the Kings have gotten right. It’s an indoor building but with as much outdoor feel as they can get thanks to massive windows (which retract to allow in the night air for certain events in the right conditions). The sightlines are great, it feels open and spacious. Most importantly, it feels very Sacramento — from the food options through the environmentally friendly touches. It’s also a modern NBA building — the team’s training facilities and medical facilities will be in the same building complex.

All that leaves is the on-the-court issues to fix. That may be the hardest part, and it’s not going to happen quickly, even with DeMarcus Cousins under contract. The jury is still out on how this will go. The Kings are in the midst of a coaching search, which should inform a lot of decisions that follow. The good news is that hands-on owner Ranadive is letting Divac and the basketball people make the decision without interference. Whatever you think of Divac the GM, this is a change and a step in the right direction. The next one will be to stick with one coach and one style of play for multiple years, let some continuity develop.

That all takes time. In the short term, the logos are here and look sharp.

Steve Kerr named NBA Coach of the Year


Usually, this question is reserved for players up for end-of-season awards and honors: Certainly they were good enough, but they missed so much time with injury should they still qualify? It came up with Sixth Man of the Year voting this season with Andre Iguodala vs. Jamal Crawford (voters gave the award to Crawford).

This season, for the rest time anyone can remember, it applied to Coach of the Year. Steve Kerr’s Warriors won a record 73 games, in any other year that wins him the award going away. But Kerr missed the first half of the season following back surgery, and Luke Walton coached the team to a 39-4 record before Kerr returned to the bench. Sure, Walton had players in a system where Kerr had been the architect, but did Kerr miss too many games to qualify?

Nope. Steve Kerr is the NBA Coach of the Year, the league announced Tuesday.

The last Warriors coach to win the award was Don Nelson in 1992.

It’s hard to knock this choice — the Warriors set a record for most wins in a season. To keep a team that focused over the course of a season, especially the defending champions with a target on their back every night, is incredible. Kerr and Walton combined to do a fantastic job.

Here is the final order of finish, as voted on by 130 media members (number of first place votes in parenthesis).

Steve Kerr, Golden State (64)
Terry Stotts, Portland (37)
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio (10)
Steve Clifford, Charlotte (7)
Dwane Casey, Toronto (6)
Brad Stevens, Boston (5)
Dave Joerger, Memphis (1)
Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers
Luke Walton, Golden State (interim)
Erik Spoelstra, Miami
Quin Snyder, Utah
Rick Carlisle, Dallas
Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta
Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City

Watch Al-Farouq Aminu drop 30 points on Clippers. Yes, you read that right.

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All series long, the Los Angeles Clippers have had a clear defensive strategy: Trap Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, force the ball out of their hands, and dare Al-Farouq Aminu or Maurice Harkless to beat you with their jumpers.

Monday night in Portland, Aminu did just that dropping 30.

His shooting helped key Portland’s Game 4 win, evening the series at 2-2. Due to injuries to key Clippers (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin) Portland may pull off the upset win in this series now and advance. And Aminu will deserve some credit for that.

Dirk Nowitzki says he plans to play out final year on contract next season

Associated Press
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At age 37, Dirk Nowitzki was the best Dallas Mavericks player in their first round series against the Thunder. By far. He averaged 20.5 points a game with a 56.4 true shooting percentage, he was playing to the point of exhaustion and leading by example.

After that, he said he’d be back for another season in Dallas.

Nowitzki has an $8.7 million player option for next season, the last year of his recent three-year deal, and after the Mavericks were eliminated he reiterated he plans to come back for it. Here is what Nowitzki said postgame, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“I signed on for three years a couple years ago. My intention was always to finish this contract. I always said I wanted to retire [with] the Mavs, especially after we won the championship a few years ago. There’s no reason to go anywhere unless the Mavs are rebuilding. I always said that the last couple of years, I’d never want to be a part of rebuilding. Next season, I’ll be 38. As long as we go for it and every summer we add guys and keep competing, then I’ll be a Mav for the rest of my career.”

Dallas is expected to be aggressive on the free agent market, except as it pertains to Dwight Howard if he wants a max contract (which he does). At some point Dallas will have to start the post-Dirk rebuild era, but don’t be shocked if they put that plan on hold for one more year, bring in some veterans, and try to send Nowitzki off on a playoff team playing meaningful games.

Watch Kemba Walker drop 34 on Heat to even series


After an up-and-down first three games of this series, the scoring machine that is Kemba Walker showed up for Game 4.

Walker dropped 34 points on Miami, helping his Hornets even the series 2-2.He had 11 of those points in the fourth quarter, helping seal the win. Walker did most of his damage attacking and finishing in the paint, but he knocked down a few step-back jumpers, too.

The Hornets need more of this Walker the rest of the series.