Kurt Helin

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks

PBT’s Fast Break news & notes: First black player in NBA deserves a stamp


Welcome to PBT’s lightning round. Every day we come across some stories that just don’t warrant a full post (even this time of year, when we’re scrape the bottom of the barrel for content) but should be passed along, and we do so in the traditional blog method of bullet points.

• There’s an effort to get Earl Lloyd, the first black player in the NBA, on a stamp. That seems a very good cause to me.

Fantastic story from Gary Washburn about Second Spectrum, one of the premiere NBA analytics companies breaking down that Sports VU camera data. The challenge for teams now is how to pull out the usefull data, put it together, and use it, from the crazy amounts of it they get from the camera system.

• Here’s another great piece, a Q&A, on Second Spectrum. Seth Partnow is a must-read NBA guy.

• The other place the use of analytics is exploding? Keeping players healthy.

• Along those lines, interesting story on the day-to-day life of an NBA trainer. It’s not all the glorious job of taping up grown men’s ankles.

• Another must-read piece from my man Arash Markazi of ESPN (NDHS!) — the impact of Huricane Katrina on Chris Paul and the trajectory of the NBA is several cities.

• Former NBA player, and before that Syracuse star, Pearl Washington is about to undergo brain surgery.

Great breakdown at Basketball Insiders of where things stand with every player eligible for an extension of their rookie contract this summer.

• Hawks big man Al Horford has been working out at times with Mike Scott, who was arrested on drug charges. Horford says the team stands behind him.

• Blake Griffin doing some basketball tricks:

• Steve Nash is going to produce a documentary on the use of Ecstacy and the Rave scene in and around Dallas. No, not from memory.

• Speaking of Nash, he is very high on Lakers’ second-year player Jordan Clarkson. In his rookie year, Clarkson looked like a guy who could develop into a starting NBA point guard. Now we’ll see if he can play next to D’Angelo Russell.

• The Suns have hired Chris Jent to coach their D-League affiliate in Bakersfield.

• The Heat are bringing Corey Hawkins to training camp, one of the better shooters in college last season. He’s camp fodder.

• Finally, easily the funniest tweet of the week.

D’Angelo Russell hasn’t called Kobe Bryant yet, doesn’t want to bug him


Kobe Bryant is busy these days. He works out, takes trips to China to sell shoes, hits the gym, spends time with his family, goes to a court to get up a bunch of shots, swings by a Taylor Swift concert, and then at some point works out a little.

The Lakers new star rookie, No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, would like to pencil himself into one of those windows. Probably during a workout.

But he hasn’t done so yet because you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, he told Mike Trudell of ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, as reported by Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

It’s okay D’Angelo, text Kobe and say you want to work out with him. He’ll likely text back to come over right now, he’s already been in the gym for an hour.

Here are some other highlights from the interview, via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation.

Amar’e Stoudemire feels he can return to All-Star form

Tim Coppens - Front Row - New York Fashion Week: Men's S/S 2016

There was a day when Amar’e Stoudemire was one of the most feared players, one of the toughest covers in the NBA. He was athletic, versatile, inside-out four long before that became trendy. He was a guy worthy of a max deal, he was a cornerstone player — if he could stay healthy.

The last four seasons the injuries have won out. Stoudemire has missed more than a third of the possible games he could participate in, and he hasn’t been the same explosive player when he did suit up (although he has remained efficient).

Stoudemire signed with the Miami Heat for this season and told the Associated Press he thinks he can bring back some of that vintage form.

“Just four years ago I was an MVP candidate and an All-Star,” Stoudemire said. “I feel like I can still get back to that All-Star level of play. If I can achieve that, then that’s going to help the team in its entirety. … I will accept whatever the role is.”

Whatever that role is, he’s trying to be realistic about what might happen. In case he needed to be humbled, fans are still confusing him with Chris Bosh.

“Stay tuned,” Stoudemire said. “At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to bring. My goal is to become a better player than I was last year, expand on what I did last year. I have a lot of skill set left in this body and I want to show that.”

Miami has a ton of potential up front — if everyone can stay healthy. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside will start. Behind them is Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen, Stoudemire and Udonis Haslem — all veterans who know how to play the game. It gives Erik Spoelstra interesting options, but he needs guys who can stay on the court this season.

If they do, and if the rotations come together, this could be the second best team in the East during the regular season.


Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk doing well, will play for Canada in FIBA Americas

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors

There are high hopes for the Canadian national team at FIBA Americas, which is a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Canada has qualified for just one of the last six Olympics (they finished seventh in 2000), but with an improved roster that includes Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, and six other NBA players, they are a team on the rise. And hope north of the border is rising with them.

One of those NBA guys is the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, but he tweaked his knee against Argentina. Olynyk sat out the next game, but the coach said not to worry.

Jay Triano said that again on Wednesday, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

FIBA Americas starts Aug. 31; Canada opens the next day against Argentina (which is without Manu Ginobili).

This is good news for the Celtics and Olynyk as well.

Boston is loaded at the four — Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder — all can get some run at that slot. Any setback for Olynyk is not good, but this seems to be a minor one.

Based God Curse this: Lil B accepts invitation to try out for Sixers D-League team

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I think I know how James Harden and Kevin Durant are hoping this turns out…

Lil B says James Harden stole his “cooking dance” and threw the Based God Curse on him (although he since has said he lifted the curse on the beard), now the rapper gets to show off his game and if he’s good enough to do that dance in game. Because we know Harden backs it up.

Lil B has accepted an invitation to try out for the Delaware 87ers, the D-League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers (hat tip The Fader).

People are already hyping Lil B.

You know if it turns out Lil B can ball and makes the team, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie will sign him and trade him for two future second rounders.

I wouldn’t count on the rapper suiting up for the 87ers this season — the most a full-time D-League player makes is $25,000, which would be a pretty steep pay cut I would guess.

But the tryouts just got a lot more entertaining — especially if the Based God Curse hits the 87ers opponents.