Kurt Helin

Brian Scalabrine: Shaquille O’Neal most underrated great player ever


Shaquille O’Neal is an all-time great. The resume is stunning: Four-time NBA champion, NBA MVP, three-time Finals MVP, 15 All-Star games, 14 times All-NBA teams, and he’s a lock Hall of Famer. All that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Brian Scalabrine told Dan Patrick we still underrate Shaq.

Often discussions of Shaq can focus on his oversized personality, his feud with Kobe Bryant, or how he didn’t max out his potential. All of those things are real. And still Shaq is one of the handful of greatest big men ever to play the game. Scalabrine does a great job laying out his impact.

Rumor: Prokhorov considering CSKA Moscow president for Nets GM

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 28: Andrey Vatutin and Alexey Savrasenko pose during the 2013-2014 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 Date 8 game between CSKA Moscow v Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar at USH Arena on February 28, 2014 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Mikhail Serbin/EB via Getty Images)
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Billy King’s contract as GM and decision maker for the Brooklyn Nets is up this summer, and despite reports a year ago of an extension nothing has happened on that front. Which leaves him in a lame duck situation and a lot of people around the league expecting a change at the top after the season (and likely with that a new coach replacing Lionel Hollins).

Now comes a report out of the respectable eurohoops.net saying now that Mikhail Prokhorov owns 100 percent of the Nets, he is looking at bringing the president behind the run of success of CSKA Moscow over to become the first European GM in the NBA.

Mikhail Prokhorov is the full owner of the Nets and according to Eurohoops sources, Andrey Vatutin is his top choice for the job of the general manager. Billy King’s contract expires at the end of the season, things are going to change in the Nets and the president of CSKA Moscow is offered the position. This is not the first time Prokhorov wanted Vatutin in Brooklyn. Back in 2010 there were also reports about an offer to Vatutin for an undefined role. However this time things are different.

With that being said, Vatutin hasn’t decided yet anything about his future and the option of him remining at the head of CSKA Moscow is more than just an alternative. There’s no fixed timetable about his decision, Prokhorov, who was for year the main financial supporter of CSKA, is waiting for him and it remains to be seen what the future holds.

Vatutin knows basketball and talent. He’s made CSKA Moscow one of the biggest powers of European basketball for years running; he’s someone Prokhorov knows and trusts.

However, this would be an enormous risk.

While I’m not about to question Vatutin’s hoops knowledge, the European and NBA structures are very different. Specifically, the salary cap and the intricacies of the CBA require smart men and a lot of specialized knowledge — you can’t just buy a team and slap it together (Prokhorov learned that the hard way). The way teams are built here would be a dramatic change for Vatutin.

Second, being a GM is a lot about relationships. Ones built up over long periods of time. Guys near the top of front offices all tend to know each other, having spent years coming up in various organizations together. They also all know the top agents well. Trades are not cold-blooded calculations like a fantasy trade (although there is that aspect to them), trades happen because of relationships and mutual interest, plus both teams feeling like they got a win. Also, getting free agents to sit down and talk can happen because of relationships. Vatutin would be an outsider in this club.

Certainly the Nets could surround Vatutin with people to help him navigate these challenges, but they would be an issue. And no matter who takes over that seat, the fact remains that the Nets do not control their own draft pick until 2019 and will have a real challenge rebuilding without many young players or assets (they will have about $40 million in cap space and need to nail free agency… again, relationships).

This hiring may not happen, but it’s something to keep an eye on — Prokhorov is enough of a wild card to try it.

Jahlil Okafor, Kendall Marshall distance themselves from comments of their fathers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 1: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 1, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Apparently it wasn’t just some fans and other teams frustrated with how things were going in Philadelphia — so were the fathers of Sixers’ players Jahlil Okafor and Kendal Marshall.

The elder Okafor reportedly had words with Brett Brown in Los Angeles about how his son was being used.

The elder Marshall reportedly vented on his private twitter account about what he saw as racist behavior with the Sixers, reports the New York Post.. Marshall said his black son was coming off the bench behind a white shooter who couldn’t shoot (likely Nik Stauskas).

Brett Brown tried to play it all down, reports John Finger at CSNPhilly.com.

“We all love our children,” Brown said. “I’m the son of a coach and I have an 11-year old and nobody is overreacting. I spoke to both of them about it and we’ll move on. We love our kids and sometimes things come out.”

Anyone who has watched their child play in a competitive sport knows how hard it can be to rein in emotions and comments. We all get that. But there are lines not to cross, and playing in the NBA doesn’t change that.

Meanwhile, the sons are playing the mature role of peacemakers.

Marshall said he basically told his dad, who has since apologized for his comments, to knock it off.

“He’s a grown man. Obviously, it’s the wrong time and place to say it, but he said it and apologized for it. It was an emotional comment and personally I’m most frustrated not because I’m not playing, but because I’m not playing well. When I start playing better it will handle itself….”

Okafor said his father’s reported comments/actions don’t matter.

“I don’t know why you have to worry about my dad. He’s not in the NBA and he’s not on the team,” Okafor said.

Losing teams face dissension and sometimes players or their entourage — including parents at times — start looking out for themselves and not the team. It’s no shock the Sixers are facing some of that, too.

That Okafor and Marshall shut down their dads is a good sign.


Watch Stephen Curry photobomb father Dell on Hornets pregame

Former Charlotte Hornet Dell Curry, left, hugs his son, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, during a halftime ceremony honoring Dell Curry's career with the Charlotte Hornets at an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
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Dell Curry is a Charlotte Hornets legend, one of the franchise’s most popular players and current color commentator on Hornets’ broadcasts.

His son Stephen Curry you may know as the kid from the Burger King commercials with his father. Or, maybe you recognize the younger Curry from some exploits of his own on the court.

The Warriors hosted the Hornets Monday night, so Dell was in town with the broadcast team — and his son dropped the photo bomb on Charlotte pregame.

Once the game started, Curry dropped 30 points, and the Warriors picked up their 32nd win of the season, 111-101.

Warriors fans, if you live in the Bay Area and get your cable through Comcast, you can stream the Warriors’ game vs. the Lakers by following this link.

Brandon Jennings hears rumors, doesn’t want Pistons to trade him

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Monday night, Brandon Jennings looked like he was his old self. After missing the start of the season recovering from a ruptured Achilles, Jennings scored 17 points, dished six assists, and the Pistons were + 25 points when he was on the court (18 minutes). The Pistons bench has dragged that team down all season, but the past week or so with Jennings running the show the bench has outperformed the starters.

That kind of play plus an expiring contract sparks trade rumors.

The buzz around the league since before the season tipped off is that Jennings would be available once healthy. Jennings told David Mayo of Mlive.com he’s heard the rumors, but he doesn’t want to go anywhere.

“We’ll see,” he said. “I don’t know. I hope so. So we’ll see….

“I can’t really get away from (the rumors) because it’s all on my Twitter feed every time I tweet something,” Jennings said. “But it’s rumors. It’s something that I’m not worried about. I just want to play basketball and I’m just blessed to be healthy again.””Our plan, right now, is that Brandon can help us make a playoff push, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Van Gundy said. “That’s our plan right now. If something happens in the next five weeks, we’ll look at it. But right now, he’s a very good player who can help us, and that’s the only way we’re looking at him.”

“Our plan, right now, is that Brandon can help us make a playoff push, and that’s what we’re going to do,” (Pistons’ coach/GM Stan) Van Gundy said. “That’s our plan right now. If something happens in the next five weeks, we’ll look at it. But right now, he’s a very good player who can help us, and that’s the only way we’re looking at him.”

Jennings makes $8.4 million this season in the final year of his contract. This past summer, Van Gundy gave starting point guard Reggie Jackson a five-year, $80 million to be the man at the point in Detroit. It’s easy to see why the rumors start: With Jennings being a free agent this summer and the Pistons not being able to pay him and Jackson plus max out Andre Drummond, and add some shooting and defense to the roster. It’s logical for the Pistons to consider moving Jennings for whatever they can get.

The Knicks are rumored to have interest, although it’s hard to envision a deal that works. (Arron Afflalo? Can’t see it.) Other teams will have interest as well.

There are going to be a lot of trade rumors around Jennings between now and the February trade deadline. But if he keeps playing like this leading the second unit, if the Pistons are in position to make the playoffs, and if every other team is throwing lowball offers at the Pistons, why wouldn’t Van Gundy just keep him and make a postseason push?