Kurt Helin

Greg Monroe talks about how Bucks landed him as free agent

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For the year before Greg Monroe officially became a free agent on July 1, it was assumed by many around the league he would become a Knick. The Lakers were expected to make a pitch, but the smart money was on the Knicks — Monroe’s agent David Falk was Michael Jordan’s agent, a guy with a strong relationship with Phil Jackson.

Then the Milwaukee Bucks surprised everyone and won the chase. Quickly. Monroe announced he would be a Buck and the league did a double take.

How did that happen? Monroe said it had a lot to do with owner Marc Lasry, in a discussion with Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“That meeting is something I will never forget,” Monroe said. “They made a great presentation to me….”

But none of (the new arena or other parts of the pitch) made the real difference. It was Lasry, the veteran deal-maker and renowned high-stakes poker player, who made the sell with his confidence. Despite never having done a free-agent pitch before, Lasry showed why he’s become one of the Bucks’ strong assets.

Kidd spoke and discussed how he’d use Monroe. General manager John Hammond went over plans and discussed the franchise’s planned moves — the Bucks were closing in on a deal to re-sign Khris Middleton to a new contract that night. But it was Lasry who made the biggest push….

“He was very down to earth, but also passionate, and he connected with Greg,” Falk said. “We didn’t need parades or balloons; this was a business decision. Marc treated it that way. What they had already put in place was strong, and he sold that.”

It was a harsh lesson to the big market teams of the league — if the money is the same (Monroe had multiple max offers), what matters to younger players is the fit and if the team can win. Monroe can own a home and live in New York or Los Angeles in the off-season, but in Milwaukee he saw a chance for success on the court.

The Bucks pitch focused on that fit, on stability (something Monroe never felt in Detroit), and on how he can be a cornerstone part of a team on a trajectory to be a real threat in the East in a few years. That — and again, max money — made a fit.

If everything goes according to the Bucks’ plan, they should have little trouble keeping him after he opts out in three years.


Rajon Rondo may have been joking about relationship with George Karl

Rajon Rondo

“It’s not been going too well. We got into a couple arguments the last couple of days. Hopefully, we continue to talk, and it will get better.”

That’s what Rajon Rondo said about his relationship with George Karl in an interview with Cowbell Kingdom after the Kings beat the Lakers in a Las Vegas preseason game Tuesday.

But was he joking around?

That’s the claim of people close to Rondo and the team — and they very may well be right. I saw the video (you can watch it below), and it didn’t sound that way to me, but I know from talking to him Rondo has a very dry sense of humor and I very well may have misread his intent.

There are three possibilities here.

1) He was serious. Rondo and Karl are both strong-willed people and this certainly would not be the first time Rondo had a rocky relationship with his coach. It’s not hard to believe this is true.

2) He was joking. As I noted above, Rondo has a very dry sense of humor with a deadpan delivery that can get lost in translation. People who cover the team said this was a joke and not a new one.

When I reached out to people around the Kings I was told without hesitation that he was joking and that things are good between Karl and Rondo. And Karl and the rest of the team, for that matter. This may well be the case.

3) He was being passive aggressive. Plenty of times when you hear an NBA player (or a guy in any sport) say he was joking about something, it was really a combo of him using a joke to express what he is really thinking.

You can decide for yourself what you think is the truth, but I am willing to admit that my first reading of the quote in the video could be wrong.

PBT Extra bold predictions: Lillard will lead league in shot attempts


Last season, Damian Lillard was fourth in the NBA in the number of shots he attempted (1,360) — and that was with LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and others putting up some quality attempts.

With all those guys gone, what is to going to slow Lillard from leading the league in shot attempts?

That’s the topic for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado, and I think the only thing that potentially stops Lillard from topping the league (aside health issues) is James Harden.

Rockets’ Clint Capela dunked all over Brandon Knight (VIDEO)

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We’re a little late on this highlight from last night, but it was too good to ignore.

Houston’s Clint Capela is building off his strong playoff showing last season by impressing during the preseason this year — the athletic Swiss center looks like a guy who deserves more run. He is strong on the pick-and-roll, and the man knows how to finish.

Just as Brandon Knight after Tuesday night.

Or you can ask Spencer Hawes or Lou Williams from last season. There’s a pattern here.

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Utah’s defense means playoffs?


I’ll admit it, I’m on the Utah Jazz bandwagon, I have them making the playoffs as the eighth seed in the West.

And as I discuss in this latest PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado, that happens because I think the Jazz have a top five defense this season, anchored by Rudy Gobert.

Can Gordon Hayward make the All-Star Game? Maybe, if the Jazz are playing well he could get in on the coach vote, but he’s on the bubble. Gobert could sneak in too if there are injuries to other centers in the West. But I wouldn’t bet on it.