Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings

Omri Casspi says Kings going in right direction, can make playoffs in West


On paper, and with a little luck, the Kings look like a pretty good team — Rajon Rondo running the point, Rudy Gay on the wing, and DeMarcus Cousins in the paint anchoring it all. Add a coach who gets teams to rack up wins in George Karl and some solid veteran role players (Kosta K0ufos, Caron Butler, Marco Belinelli, etc.) and there is some potential.

In reality, this is what even Karl called a “combustible” mix. There are players with a lot of different styles and big egos that have to come together on this team — maybe they can bond over a hatred of Karl? — and the organization, to put it kindly, has not been a model of stability. This team can go a lot of different directions next season.

Omri Casspi, who chose to re-sign with the Kings this summer, thinks the Kings are a playoff team. He believes this is a team on the rise with a shot at the playoffs, he told James Herbert of CBSSports.com.

I like Sacramento. I felt like I had a really good connection with the coach last year. I feel like the direction of the team is going, it’s finally moving and getting some speed in the right direction. I feel like we have a good team. I felt I want to be a part of something that’s growing and competing for the playoffs next year and being in the playoffs, putting ourselves in a position to win championships. And I didn’t want to leave. I trust our organization, I trust our coaches. We have the best center in the league. Obviously we’re going in the right direction.

I’m not sure I’d go with the word “obvious,” but people around the Kings believe it. We’ll see if they can prove it once the games start — making the playoffs in the West is a lofty goal for a team that was 16 games out of the eight seed a year ago. It’s a brutal conference where teams like Dallas, Utah, and Phoenix could all be in the mix for one final playoff spot. Sacramento fancies itself in that group.

Casspi also talked about his connection with DeMarcus Cousins (who traveled with Casspi back to Israel this summer for an NBA Cares event and some bonding).

Me and DeMarcus met, it was my second year and it was his first. We had a good connection, you know? It’s like with your family; you can tell them everything. They trust you and you trust them in the same way. If you do something wrong, they’ll tell you and vice versa. He came all the way from the United States to see my family and meet my family. Seeing him having dinner and talking to my mom and dad and my sister … we have a special bond and I love him. So he’s my brother.


Klay Thompson tries to cheat at go-karts and… instant karma

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2015 - Arrivals
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Come on Klay Thompson, did Mychal raise a cheater? I don’t think so.

The NBA champ was at the go-kart track and decided to cut a corner. To quote John Lennon, “instant Karma’s gonna get you” and it slapped Thompson right in the face.

By the way, in a recent interview Thompson said he had worked on adding a pump fake to his game this summer — that could be a dynamic addition. Last season defenses started to pay attention to him more and more (not easy with Stephen Curry in the same backcourt, plus a loaded roster), and Thompson saw more of his shots contested. That’s only going to get worse. A move that gets a defender in the air and lets Thompson put the ball on the floor and drive, or draw a foul, would be a great addition.

(Hat tip to Mr. Go Kart Matt Moore at CBS’s Eye on Basketball)

Stephanie Ready to become first full-time female local NBA game color analyst

From twitter.com/StephanieReady

We certainly have heard some superb women working as analysts of NBA games before. ESPN’s Dorris Burke steps in occasionally and is better than most in that chair. Both Ann Meyers and Nancy Lieberman have done some local work as well.

Now Stephanie Ready has been tapped to take the next step — she will be a full-time color analyst on Charlotte Hornets games on Fox Sports Southeast, something the team announced Thursday. Ready will work with play-by-play man Eric Collins and former Hornet standout player Dell Curry in a three-person booth.

Ready is going from sideline reporter to the booth (she also has and will continue with postgame shows on the network).

“I’ve had a love affair with the game of basketball for as long as I can remember, both as a player and a coach. I’m honored and excited to be able to share my passion for this sport with our audience,” Ready said in a statement. “FOX Sports and the Hornets have always taken pride in being innovative and forward-thinking. I’m extremely proud to be a part of history.”

This breaks another barrier around the NBA — young girls watching the games should see role models and know they can grow up to be part of an NBA franchise in a variety of capacities, not only someone who dances during timeouts.

But as an NBA League Pass junkie I’ll tell you why I’m happy — she’s good. She was a fantastic sideline reporter. Combine her with Curry in the booth and a rock-solid veteran play-by-play man in Collins and we should get some quality, insightful commentary and a broadcast worth watching. All local broadcasts have a bit of a homer feel (know your audience), but the best ones have a level-headed sense and a love of the game that shines through above all else. A lot of teams miss that boat. I could be watching a lot more Charlotte broadcasts this season.

Remembering Darryl Dawkins’ 20 greatest dunks (VIDEO)


We will remember his eccentric ways — from saying he was from the planet Lovetron when he played, to more recently wearing brightly-colored suits at games.

We will remember his smile, his clear love of the game.

We will remember his nickname — Chocolate Thunder — and we will remember the seemingly countless nicknames he had for his dunks.

But more than anything, we will remember the dunks themselves.

As we look back on the life and career of Darryl Dawkins, who passed away Thursday at the age of 58, we bring you 20 of his best dunks. The man was power personified — even vintage Bill Walton could not contain him. He was ahead of his time in being above the rim.

If you’re keeping score at home, there are two shattered backboards on the list.

Report: Kyrie Irving likely not back opening night, could be out until January

Kyrie Irving

LeBron James may be pumped about finally getting to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love again, but it looks like he is going to have to wait awhile.

The Cavaliers are going to be very cautious with Irving’s return from a fractured left kneecap, which required surgery. Understandably, we’re talking about a franchise player here. But instead of the original timetable of 3-4 months, the Cavaliers likely will not have him when the season tips off in late October, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They may not even have him in 2015 period.

Multiple league sources say his rehabilitation is going smoothly, but that the chances are slim of him being in the opening-night lineup against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 27. One source said he could very well be unavailable up until January….

The Cavaliers want to bring him back slowly without risking a setback, with the goal of being at full strength entering the playoffs.

This isn’t just the exact right approach to take, it’s the only sane one to take.

Last season, when Irving, Love and LeBron were on the court together the Cavaliers outscored opponents by 13.6 points per 48 minutes with an offensive rating of 113.5 points per 100 possessions. After the All-Star break, they were +14.7 per 48 and did that with a defensive rating of 99.2 (points per 100 possessions allowed).

As much as Irving will push to get back on the court, the Cavaliers can go without him for an extended period — Mo Williams was brought in as a backup point guard and Matthew Dellaveova has re-signed — and still comfortably be a top seed in the East. Likely the top seed.

What matters starts in mid-April. Cleveland’s success next season is not going to be judged on regular season wins, it’s all about the playoffs. If healthy, anything less than a return trip to the Finals is a disappointment (and for some, it will take winning a ring to make them happy). Pushing Irving back for a game in November, which could lead to a compensation issue and pain or an injury that follows him through the season, makes no sense.

What the Cavaliers want is to be 100 percent healthy around the All-Star break and then pick up momentum into the postseason. If they can do that, watch out.