Kurt Helin

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Report: Sale of Atlanta Hawks to be completed June 24

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Grant Hill, the owner, is very close to being in place.

Hill will be a minority owner, but one of the key faces of Antony Ressler’s group that is buying the team — and that sale will be completed on the day before the NBA Draft, reports Chris Vivlamore at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The sale of the Atlanta Hawks to a group led by billionaire Tony Ressler is scheduled to be completed on June 24, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An agreement to purchase the Hawks and Philips Arena from the group known as the Atlanta Spirit has been in place since April 22. The sales process was expected to take 4-6 weeks to complete and will be official with the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. The approval can be done by conference call or electronically and is scheduled for the day before the NBA Draft.

That sale reportedly is for $850 million, although more than $100 million of that is taking on debt.

The Hawks had the best season in franchise history — winning 60 games and making the conference Finals were both firsts for the organization — despite a fractus ownership group that had put the team up for sale. The Hawks current majority owners, known as Atlanta Spirit, purchased the Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena from Turner Broadcasting in 2004. There was infighting and rumors of sales for years.

Then when it was found one of the key members of the Spirit Bruce Levenson had sent out a racially insensitive email about how to cater the game more toward white fans, it pressured him and the group to sell the team.

The Hawks had a great season at the gate and with local television ratings this past season because they won and because they focused more on urban, younger, and often African-American crowd. The new owners can build off that — and the team’s new logos.

PBT Finals prediction post, not all of us pick Golden State

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally
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Finally, the NBA Finals are about to tip off.

And we got the matchup most people wanted to see — Golden State vs. Cleveland. LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry. The best player vs. the best team.

It’s prediction time. Here are the calls from the PBT staff.

Kurt Helin: Warriors in six.

Maybe there is a path for the Cavaliers to the title, but their margin for error is gone. Their defense has been better these playoffs but no team has truly tested them and made them move laterally yet (the Hawks only did it for short spurts). That is about to change, and I’m not sure the Cavaliers pass that test. The key for Golden State is their depth — they can keep throwing fresh defenders at LeBron James in the form of Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and even Klay Thompson for short spurts. Nobody stops LeBron, but they will make him take more jumpers. Will he get enough help from a hobbled Kyrie Irving and friends? I don’t see it.

Brett Pollakoff: Cavaliers in six.

Cleveland is almost a 2-1 underdog to win the series in the eyes of oddsmakers, and with good reason. The Warriors have been dominant in the largest sample size possible, winning 67 games during the regular season, cruising through what was supposed to be a difficult Western Conference in the playoffs, and doing it with the league’s best defense and perhaps its greatest shooter of all time. But I really like the way the Cavaliers have come together this postseason. They seem to be peaking at just the right time, and I believe they have the personnel to challenge the Warriors in every way possible, with LeBron James ultimately being the difference.

Dan Feldman: Warriors in six.

The Warriors have been the NBA’s best team all season. They play dominant defense, and they excel offensively. They’re the complete package. LeBron James is great, but not great enough for this challenge — especially with Kevin Love out and Kyrie Irving hobbled.

Sean Highkin: Warriors in five.

Assuming Klay Thompson is good to go, the Warriors have a significant health advantage over the Cavaliers. They’re also one of a small handful of teams that actually has the personnel to effectively guard LeBron James. The Cavs have no idea whether Kyrie Irving is going to be healthy, and even if he is, who do they hide him on defensively? There isn’t a weak link in the Warriors’ starting five offensively, and it’s tough to see the Cavs’ defense keeping up its strong performance against an offensive attack this much better than anyone they played in the first three rounds.

LeBron James’ legacy does not ride solely on these Finals

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 24:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 24, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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LeBron James’ legacy has become one of the “hot take” storylines of the NBA Finals, which finally tip off Thursday night. And how you spin it says as much about what you think of LeBron as it does his actual legacy.

When LeBron steps onto the court Thursday night, he will be playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals. Michael Jordan never did that. Nor did Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, or Kobe Bryant. Nobody since Bill Russell and those 60s Celtics have pulled that off. It’s an impressive feat.

But getting to the Finals and winning are different things — and Jordan’s army of defenders (does he need defenders?) will be more than happy to point that out. MJ never lost in the Finals. Should the Warriors win these Finals (and they are the favorites), LeBron will be 2-4 on the NBA’s biggest stage.

Those, however, are just the simple answers, the easy ones for our “thumbs up or thumbs down” society.

The reality is LeBron’s legacy is more complex than that.

And ultimately LeBron’s legacy will not be defined by these Finals alone.

Rings do matter when discussing a superstar’s NBA legacy. Karl Malone and John Stockton had the misfortune of being at their peak in the Jordan era, and that lack of a title is part of how we see them now. Same with Charles Barkley. Or, on the other side, the ultimate legacies of players such as Kobe Bryant or Larry Bird are in part defined by their rings and winning.

LeBron’s legacy will in part be defined by how many rings he has — and if he can deliver one to title-starved Cleveland (this year or in future ones).

That said. LeBron has a couple rings already, he’s earned his championship stripes.

I personally never could stand the “look at the ringzzzzz” argument. It lacks nuance.

Consider at the teams LeBron has led to the Finals — they often have not been impressive squads. In 2007 he dragged a team not worthy of the Finals — the second and third leading scorers on the Cavs that season where Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden — to the game’s biggest stage. It was an amazing feat just to get a team that far. Do you want to ding LeBron’s legacy because he couldn’t lead that ragtag bunch past Duncan’s deep Spurs?

The same could be said of last season’s Heat team — was that team with a hobbled Dwyane Wade and no bench to speak of a serious threat to the best Spurs team we had seen in years? Is that loss really on LeBron alone? No.

The only time LeBron has made it to the Finals and didn’t win when it seemed like he could was 2011, when the Dallas Mavericks were on a roll and the Heat were just not ready yet.

LeBron very well may not win this time around. If he does he will have won the title three out of four years and brought one home a title to Cleveland— but if he doesn’t do it this year, he likely will in the next couple years. Very possibly more than one title. In five years we may look back with amazement he was able to get this banged-up roster of Cavaliers to the Finals in the first place and see it as the start of a run.

Which is why these Finals will not define LeBron’s legacy for all time. Whatever happens will be part of the conversation, as will his incredible physical gifts, his passing, his dunks and game winners. But it remains too early to define LeBron’s legacy. He’s still at the peak of his powers. We do not know now what we will think of him in 10 years.

But that doesn’t make for good copy, it doesn’t get clicks and viewers. So hot takes on LeBron’s legacy will remain the order of the day.

 

 

 

Warriors’ video staff pranked Alvin Gentry about Pelicans

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five
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With the lengthy break between Golden State eliminating Houston and the start of the NBA Finals, Alvin Gentry had time to seal the deal on becoming the next coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, and still get back to do the scouting on Cavaliers.

The Warriors clubhouse is a loose and fun place — they are serious on the court, their system shows discipline, but a former player like Kerr is not going to let things get too heavy.

In that spirit, the Warriors and their video crew pranked Gentry. He had spent time breaking down the Cavaliers and how the Warriors want to attack them. But when it came time for showing the video to the team… we’ll let Gentry take it from there, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

“I start in like, ‘Guys, here are some of the plays we ran against them that really worked well,'” Gentry says. “And I look at the screen and it’s all a bunch of fricking Pelicans highlights.

“They’ve got captions under the plays like, ‘Boy, this team has a lot of potential.’ There’s this play with Anthony Davis dunking and the caption says, ‘God, this guy is GOOD!'”

The whole room started rolling…

“At the end of the tape, there’s a milk carton with my picture on [it] that says, ‘Have you seen this guy? He’s been missing in action,'” he says.

 

Kerr had encouraged Gentry to talk to the Pelicans and go get that job. Like any good boss, he wants those under him to succeed. Even if in a few years he’s going to have trouble with Gentry’s Pelicans.

At points in these playoffs the Warriors have seemed a little tight at home, Kerr has set a tone and is trying to make sure they are loose. They will be rusty (both teams will be after that layoff), but Kerr is trying to make sure his team — which has no players with Finals experience — is not overwhelmed by the moment.

Report: Nuggets interview Mike D’Antoni for head coaching position

Mike D'Antoni
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Under George Karl a few years back, the Denver Nuggets ran their way to 57 wins (and might have done some serious playoff damage if Danilo Gallinari had stayed healthy). Then management decided to let Karl go and turn to a more traditional, defensive guy in Brian Shaw. However, they never significantly changed the roster to fit the change of plans and coach. The result was a disaster. Denver won 30 games last season.

Now they want to run again.

That means a new coach. And while long-time Denver assistant and interim coach Melvin Hunt remains the frontrunner, the Nuggets reached out and spoke with Mike D’Antoni about the job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Mike D’Antoni met with Denver Nuggets management to discuss the franchise’s head coaching opening, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Denver general manager Tim Connelly conducted a sit-down with D’Antoni in California on Tuesday, league sources said. D’Antoni’s vaunted running game fits into Denver’s determination that it wants to play faster in the future. Melvin Hunt, the interim coach in the wake of Brian Shaw’s firing, remains a strong contender to retain the full-time job, league sources said.

Along with D’Antoni and Hunt, ex-Sacramento Kings coach Michael Malone has had conversations with Connelly and could soon emerge with a sit-down interview, league sources said.

While Mike D’Antoni has his detractors — a lot of them living in Los Angeles — the fact of the matter is his offensive system can win and can work. Both Gregg Popovich and Eric Spoelstra borrowed from what he did in Phoenix, and those two guys have the last three NBA titles.

But while those two adapted the system, D’Antoni is wed to winning his way, fitting players into his system. That helped lead to the mess in Los Angeles, where he was handed a roster that was ill fitting for what he wanted to do but was slow to adapt.

Denver has a good point guard in Ty Lawson, they have a quality stretch four in Gallinari, they have some pieces to make D’Antoni’s system work. But are they fully committed to it? If not, better to go another direction. Like the respected Hunt.

I also am a fan of Mike Malone. Another coach who did a good job building a culture (then was fired because the owner wanted a faster team),  a guy who deserves another chance. But Malone is about defense and deliberate play. Hire him and Denver needs to revamp the roster.

What kind of team does Denver management want? Answer that, and then get a coach and players to make it work. Then stick with the plan.