Kurt Helin

Watch Joel Embiid make a between-the-legs dunk look easy

1 Comment

Joel Embiid has played in a real NBA game. Well, sort of. He’s now played nearly 25 minutes across a couple of preseason games, shot 4-of-12 from the floor, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked three shots. As we should expect, he looks like a rookie trying to get comfortable in an NBA setting.

But he has crazy athleticism for a big.

In warm-ups Thursday night he made the difficult look easy.


It’s going to be another long season in Philadelphia — especially with Ben Simmons out for an extended period — but watching Embiid develop is going to be part of the fun. There’s a lot of potential on the roster in Philly; it’s just going to take more time to see what they have.

Report: Suns not looking to trade Eric Bledsoe. Also not shopping Brandon Knight (for now)

1 Comment

The Phoenix Suns are loaded with guys who can play the point — Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Tyler Ulis, and Leandro Barbosa. Considering there are a number of teams around the league that could use a solid point guard, you can be sure the trade rumors are coming, even as the Suns see Knight more as a scorer coming off the bench.

But right now, the Suns aren’t looking to make a move, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.

Still, the Suns did not flip a coveted Lakers pick for Knight, and then pay him $14 million per season, to be a backup. The league is cool on Knight now, but given the dearth of wings, the Suns might find a palatable trade market if Knight starts strong. (There is no indication that they have any interest in trading Bledsoe right now, sources say.)

This is one of those cases where the Suns may not be looking to make a move, but if the calls start coming and offers follow, they will listen. Knight hasn’t found a groove in Phoenix since being traded from Milwaukee, the Suns can’t be holding out forever for that to change.

The Suns have some nice young pieces. Devin Booker is locked in as the starting two guard, and players like Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and Alex Len are working to establish themselves. But there are holes on a roster that once again doesn’t look playoff bound. If Knight — or Bledsoe for that matter — can be flipped for a wing player that fills a need, the Suns need to at least listen, right?

Kyrie Irving has a new shirt with himself as “The Ankletaker”


Kyrie Irving could make a lot of money selling these. (Yes, I know he already has a lot of money, and the next time you meet a rich person who says they have enough money let me know.)

The Cavaliers’ point guard, who is known for his wicked crossover, had a shirt made with an image of himself in the WWE star The Undertaker’s hat and outfit, and it’s called “The Ankletaker.”

That shirt is savage. And whoever he got to do the graphics on it deserves double what he got paid.

Seriously, Irving and the Cavaliers (or, Nike) should start selling these.

Report: Dirk Nowitzki pushed for disastrous Rajon Rondo to Dallas trade

1 Comment

Back in 2015, Rajon Rondo and Rick Carlisle mixed about as well as ammonia and bleach. Or alcohol and late-night texting. You get the idea. The high-IQ, strong-willed player who likes to do things his way, and the coach who wants to micromanage, were destined to be a disaster. Rondo’s time on the court kept dropping and dropping to the point when he was deactivated midway through a first-round playoff series and left the team.

Carlisle knew what was coming before the trade. Dallas gave up a lot of quality — Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, and a first-round draft pick — to Boston in a deal Carlisle didn’t want to happen.

Why did it? Dirk Nowitzki. That’s what Mavericks writer Tim MacMahon of ESPN said to Nate Duncan on the Dunc’d On’s Season Outlook for the Dallas Mavericks. (Hat tip Real GM. Also, if you’re not listening to the Dunc’d On podcast, you’re doing it wrong.)

“The Rondo deal, that’s the one that stands out. Rick Carlisle told them he did not want him. He said he was going to kill the spacing. He said Rondo is going to be a really bad fit. But essentially what happened there, and Rick stood down once he understood this, Dirk wanted the deal done. Dirk has traded for two point guard during his time. He’s traded for Jason Kidd; that one helped deliver a championship here. Got off to a rocky start but certainly ended up with a ring. He made one great deal for a point guard while the Rondo trade was a total disaster.”

Consider this your 1,672,341st reminder that in the NBA superstars wield a lot of power. A lot of them also think they know how to be GMs, when in fact they are horrible at it.

Rondo was given a lot of freedom by Geroge Karl in Sacramento last season, and he put up better numbers — he shot 36.5 percent from three — but the Kings were not happy with the fit on or off the court and didn’t chase him hard as a free agent this summer.

Rondo is going to be a huge key to just how good Chicago is this season. Can he help provide some spacing? He’s a clever passer still but will he be willing to share offensive control with Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler at times? Will he be better than he has been on defense? Can he make this team of assorted pieces mesh? He will be at the heart of whatever success the Bulls do or do not have.

Phoenix Suns tracking team’s high-fives this year (because winning teams do it more)


Back in 2010, a study was done that found a correlation between how much teams high-fived and how much they won (other congratulatory contacts were counted, too). For the most part, the more high-fives, the better the team.

One of the authors of that first study took it another step last year and in a study of high-fives on teams — accounting for likelihood of winning and other factors — and it found teams that high-fived more not only tended to win more, they tended to be the teams that shared the ball more on offense, set more screens, helped more on defense and generally played better team ball.

You can add high-five tracking to the advanced stats the Suns are keeping this season. From Cody Cunningham of Suns.com (hat tip Dan DeVine at Ball Don’t Lie).

“We have a high-five stat,” Head Coach Earl Watson said following the 91-86 victory. “I’m being honest with you. This is true. So we want to keep track of how many high-fives we get per game to each other.”

This, of course, aligns with Watson’s philosophy of preaching trust, family and selflessness to his team. When asked about Dudley and Chandler’s morale-boosting high-fives on Monday, the first-year coach said “I’ll let them know you said they led the team in high-fives.”

I assume Dean Oliver is not adding high-fives to his four factors.

Obviously, the increase in high-fives is not causing teams to play better, it’s more a byproduct of better chemistry on a squad. That said, if tracking the high-fives can provide a little insight into which players are more comfortable and play better with each other, why not?