<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

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Attend Spurs season-opening game, get replica of championship ring

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In just two weeks the NBA season tips off, and in the first game the San Antonio Spurs are going to raise their championship banner and get handed their championship rings (right in front of Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, just to rub some salt in that wound).

Fans going to the game are going to get more than memories — they are going to get replica championship rings. Nice.

The rings are sponsored by HEB (which is a ubiquitous sponsor in San Antonio) and while they will not be diamond encrusted like the ones the players get, they still sound pretty sweet. From the press release:

The commemorative NBA Championship rings feature the iconic Spur logo on the front and the team’s 2013-14 regular and post-season records above the NBA logo on the left panel. The opposite panel is etched with a replica of the Larry O’Brien trophy with five studs, representing each of the Spurs’ five championships.

They may not be the first team ever to do this (the Wizards have previously given away rings on the anniversary of their one title, from back in the Bullets era) but once again the Spurs may have set the standard for the league. Just giving out a T-shirt on opening night isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Just like every team is trying to do on the court with the Spurs offense (and there they will fall short), every team is going to be copying the Spurs here. The Cavaliers, Thunder, Clippers and Bulls marketing teams may want to start thinking about this, just in case.

Wesley Matthews thinks Wesley Matthews is the best two-way guard in NBA

Portland Trail Blazers Media Day
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It’s been a bit of a bar stool debate among NBA fans since Klay Thompson’s agent brought it up:

Who is the best two-way guard in the NBA?

Obviously Thompson’s agent said it was Thompson. Lance Stephenson is in the conversation, as is the often overlooked Joe Johnson (not worth his contract but still very good). Arron Afflalo gets overlooked and is better than many fans realize. DeMar DeRozan, Eric Bledsoe and Bradley Beal are fast rising. Kobe Bryant’s backers say it’s still him (Kobe’s fans will say it’s Kobe when he’s 70 and in a wheelchair). I’d still take James Harden over a lot of guys because of his offense but his defense is clearly an issue.

Portland’s Wesley Mathews says its Wesley Mathews, as he told the Columbian.

“Do I think I’m All-Defense? Absolutely. I think I’m the best two-way two-guard in the NBA. But I feel like we need to be a good defensive team within the scheme of the game. We’re not out there gambling, trying to reach and get steals. That would put us in a bind if I don’t get it,” Matthews said.

I’d put him in the often-overlooked category and near the top of that mythical list — he averaged 17.4 points a game with a very good .588 true shooting percentage and he shot almost 40 percent from three. He’s a smart and strong defender. He gets overlooked because of the star power that Damian Lillard brings, but Mathews is one of the games better two guards right now.

You’ll see Matthews real value next summer when he is a free agent — he is going to get paid. A number of teams will try to poach him.

Blake Griffin hosts “Basketball Book Club” in Jimmy Kimmel skit (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Clippers Media Day
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Sure, this is basically an ad for “The Best of Me.” A movie coming out soon I have no intention of seeing (nor did my book club read it).

Still, it’s damn funny.

Blake Griffin, with a sweater tied around his shoulders, leads the book club of Chandler Parsons, Matt Barnes and Iman Shumpert in a discussion of “The Best of Me” and author Nicholas Sparks jumps in to help. Well done, gentlemen.

(If you’re looking for a good book club option, I’d recommend “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Despite the cheesy ending it’s my favorite thing I read in the last year.)

Hat tip That NBA Lottery Pick.

Nuggets still getting trade calls about Timofey Mozgov, still not moving him

Denver Nuggets Media Day
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Timofey Mozgov is a solid NBA center. He’s strong on the pick-and-roll, averaged 9.4 points a game last season with a good .584 true shooting percentage, plus he’s solid on the glass grabbing 16.1 percent of the available rebounds when he is on the court (that worked out to 6.4 a game last year). He’s a slightly above average NBA big. He’s just 28 and in his fifth NBA season.

And he’s making just $4.6 million this season with a team option for just under $5 million for next season, a bargain for that kind of production from a big.

Which has led to his team the Denver Nuggets getting — and rejecting — a lot of trade calls for Mozgov, reports Christopher Dempsey at the Denver Post.

During the past calendar year, Mozgov arguably has been the Nuggets’ most-coveted trade asset. Teams called last winter and throughout the summer. That’s not likely to change, because with a $4.6 million salary, Mozgov is one of the best bangs for the buck in the NBA…

“He’s been my favorite,” Shaw said. “Just because as a coach, he’s kind of like a coach’s dream. He does everything that you ask him to do. It’s nice to see when it pays off.”

Denver is not likely to move Mozgov.

They really are not going to move him until JaVale McGee is all the way back and proves he can take on the load of a starting center — and that apparently will not come until after the season starts. At least.

Even if/when McGee returns to form and we move closer to the trade deadline the Nuggets might listen to offers, particularly if they see a need they can fill.

Even then, you’re going to really have to blow the Nuggets away to get a deal.

They have a quality center at a good price, why are they going to trade him, exactly?

Pelicans likely starting Tyreke Evans at three

New Orleans Pelicans Media Day
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New Orleans coach Monty Williams liked the idea of Tyreke Evans as the sixth man again this season — a guy who could come in off the bench and just change the dynamic of the game with his scoring. Like Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford does for the Clippers.

But no.

Evans is going to start at the three spot when the Pelicans tip off the season.

It’s not official yet, but it will be soon according to Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune.

After three preseason games with less than stellar production from the three players – Darius Miller, Luke Babbitt and John Salmons – originally competing for the starting small forward spot, the Pelicans are closing in on moving Tyreke Evans, who practiced for the first time on Saturday after recovering from a strained hamstring suffered this offseason, into the starting lineup.

“Tyreke right now in my head, that’s where he is going to play (at small forward),” Williams said.

That’s great… if Evans can stay healthy. Williams talks about playing him 30 minutes a night, but Evans will not play on Tuesday as he continues to get over a hamstring strain. (To be fair, Evans played 72 games last season.)

Evans at the three always seemed the logical end of the road for the Pelicans this season, even if they are left looking for more off the bench (watch Ryan Anderson to step up). Evans is just the best fit there, next to Eric Gordon at the two.

Evans is undersized for the three spot in the NBA and that is going to lead to teams trying to exploit him in the post — that’s where having the long arms of Anthony Davis as the help defender. Plus, as Williams notes, those bigger guys then have to deal with Evans in transition and out on the wing on the pick-and-roll.

Babbitt, Salmons and Miller will come off the bench, likely one of them a lot more than the other two.