Kurt Helin

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Jeremy Lin predicts Warriors will win 73 games


Since pretty much the second the Warriors signed Kevin Durant to form a superteam, they have tried to tamp-down regular season expectations. The general manager has done it. Draymond Green has done it. To a man, the Warriors have said they expect bumps at the start of the season as they figure things out, and that they have no intention of chasing 73 wins again.

But with all that talent, if they wanted it…

The Nets’ Jeremy Lin thinks they will do it.

It’s debatable whether the quest to set the NBA’s regular season win record was part of the reason the Warriors were down 3-1 to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, then blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the Finals. There were a lot of factors involved in both (including that the Thunder and Cavaliers were very good teams). What matters is the Warriors believe it played a role.

They are not going after the record; they are going after the ring. Lin isn’t wrong, they could do it, the issue is they don’t want to.

Hawks’ big man Tiago Splitter out four weeks with strained hamstring

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Tiago Splitter — who played only 36 games last season due to injuries, including a hip that required surgery — will now miss the start of the 2016-17 season as well.

This time it’s a strained hamstring, the team announced on Tuesday. Here is the entire official release, for your reading pleasure:

Atlanta Hawks forward/center Tiago Splitter has been diagnosed with a grade 2 hamstring strain, which he sustained in a recent practice. An MRI taken yesterday at the Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center revealed the injury. He will be out a minimum of four weeks and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Splitter is Dwight Howard‘s primary reserve, bringing some old-school big man game to the court. Plus, because Splitter can hit free throws, he may get some run in key moments while Howard sits. Splitter plays solid man defense in the paint, and if you get him the ball in the post he’s an efficient scorer. Keep him in his lane and he can help a team.

Splitter being out is just more run for high-energy center Walter Tavares, which is not a bad thing for the Hawks.

Dwyane Wade speaks truth: Bulls winning title this season “unrealistic”

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If Gar Forman owned a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back and could get the 2011 versions of his latest additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, we’d all be predicting they could win the NBA title. (Unless Phil Jackson had the same car and went and got the 2011 versions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Carmelo Anthony… but now we’re veering into alt historical fiction).

But alas, that car does not exist, and the Bulls have the 2016 versions of their stars. Which means the Bulls are what they are, a team that missed the playoffs last season and are trying to take steps forward. So, stop using the words “championship” and “Bulls” in the same sentence, Wade said on Tuesday after practice (via Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com).

For the Bulls, the mid-40s in wins and making the playoffs is a good season. Let’s be honest, only one team in the East has real championship aspirations, and so long as LeBron James is upright it’s hard to see any other team in the conference getting through to the Finals.

Of course, the big question around the Bulls is what kind of floor spacing they will have with Rondo, Wade, and Jimmy Buttler, none of them feared from three? But CSNChicago’s Goodwill was on the PBT’s podcast looking at the Bulls and he pointed to two other keys:

Health. Which is obvious but a legitimate question in this case.

Second, how well does Rondo fit in? Butler is a young player coming into his own as the face of the franchise, Wade is past his prime but still is a valuable contributor (he scored an efficient 19 points a game last season). But what about Rondo? He’s going to get the freedom from coach Fred Hoiberg that he craves, but what does he do with it? Will he make the Bulls better?

It’s going to be an interesting season in Chicago.

51 Questions: Who will be the first coach fired?


We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season. Today:

Which coach will be the first fired this season?

As the saying goes, coaches are hired to be fired. Fair or not — and plenty of times it is not, coaches get fired for a GM’s failings all the time — coaches are the first let go when a team struggles or doesn’t reach expectations.

This season, NBA coaches will be fired. Who is sitting on the hottest seat going into the season? NBC’s ProBasketballTalk team gives you their answers.

Kurt Helin: Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans

The smart answer here would be Brett Brown in Philadelphia, but nobody is accusing me of being smart. Down in New Orleans, there is growing pressure on the organization to get enough talent around Anthony Davis and start winning sooner rather than later (the Pelicans have already been passed on the up-and-coming team rankings by the Timberwolves and Jazz). The fact the Pelicans won only 30 games last season had everything to do with injuries (including to Davis), and that bad luck hasn’t changed as again they will start the season without Jrue Holiday (as he deals with family issues) and Tyreke Evans. Even if this roster were healthy, it would be unlikely to make the playoffs in the West, which will add to the pressure. Fair or not — and you can certainly argue that Gentry would pay for GM Dell Demps’ errors — if and when the Pelicans get off to a slow start the coach’s seat will get hot.

Dan Feldman: Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers

As tempted as I am to pick Dave Joerger, not even I think Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is that outlandish (though…). So, I’ll go with 76ers coach Brett Brown. Other teams most likely to lose a lot — Nets, Lakers, Suns and Kings — have coaches in their first full season. Some other teams most likely to underachieve relative to internal expectations — Pacers, Magic and Knicks — also have new coaches. But Brett checks every box: He’s been there a while, has a terrible record, works for a general manager who didn’t hire him and now coaches a team poised to fall short of even its meager projections. Philadelphia’s new veterans won’t produce much, and the roster is still imbalanced. That Brown never had a fighting chance will matter only so much. Worth noting: I’d take the field in a landslide over Brown AND my runner-up choice, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.

Dane Carbaugh: Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers

It’s easy to take Philadelphia Sixers head coach Brett Brown as the safest best to be on the hottest seat. Brown has won just 47 games in three seasons at the helm for Philly, a mark partially orchestrated by ousted GM Sam Hinkie. More importantly, Jerry and Bryan Colangelo now lead the way for the Sixers front office, and both father and son have shown the propensity to make drastic coaching changes. Jerry hired Mike Krzyzewski to head USA Men’s Basketball in 2005 after a disappointing run at the 2004 Olympics, and Bryan dropped Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell in Toronto after signing him to a 3-year extension the previous spring. Although Brown is held in high esteem as a basketball mind around the organization, it’s likely the Colangelos will want to bring in their own coach to move past The Process.

Watch Zach LaVine drop 30 in preseason game

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When we talk about the offensive threats in Minnesota, the conversation quickly turns to Karl-Anthony Towns, followed by Andrew Wiggins. With good reason, that one-two punch could have the Timberwolves as contenders in a few years.

But they have other guys who can put up points.

Zach LaVine reminded everyone his game has grown and he can do more than just dunk, dropping 30 on the Hornets in a preseason game. LaVine was 13-of-20 from the field and 4-of-6 from three.