Kurt Helin

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Why Bulls need to move on from Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler backcourt


You can have a winning team where two guys believe they are the alpha on a team — so long as their games mesh. The natural, obvious examples are Shaq and Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

It has not worked with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler in Chicago.

The relationship between the two is not the biggest problem — they get along better than Shaq and Kobe ever did — the issue is their games simply do not mesh. In a column calling for Bulls management to trade either Rose or Butler, the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson laid out why.

Neither possesses knockdown 3-point shooting ability to play well off one another. Both prefer to have the ball. Butler has added a screen-and-roll element to his game that nobody envisioned when he first came into the league.

This has little to do with whether Rose and Butler like each other or get along. Simply put, the two didn’t play well together consistently last season with the Bulls getting outscored by 3.5 points per 100 possessions when both were on the court. If left unaddressed, their uneasy alliance will continue to have a negative effect on the locker room….

Until utilizing them together in screen-and-roll plays more frequently down the stretch, (coach Fred) Hoiberg often called isolation plays for Rose or Butler. The other stood on the perimeter, where their respective 29.3 and 31.1 percent 3-point shooting struck little fear.

NBA teams cannot be constructed like a fantasy team, where collecting the most talent is all that matters — fit is crucial. Mental makeup of players matters. Chemistry is not simply a high school class.

The reality is both Butler and Rose likely are back with the Bulls next season. Rose would be hard to move; he has one year left on his contract at $21.7 million, and the Bulls would need to throw in a sweetener to get a team to take that on, and even then the return would not be great. Butler could bring real value, especially if the Bulls start to think longer-term rebuild, but Butler is the best player on this team and should be part of its future — why would they still be building around Rose? He’s not that player anymore, even as he shows flashes of good play it’s not the pre-injury Rose anymore.

Bulls management errs on the side of caution, so they likely do nothing.

There are no easy, clean, simple answers here for the Bulls. However, the Bulls have two players that think they are the top dog on this team, and these players do not fit well together. A change has to be made, one way or another. It’s become obvious, and it’s time.

Mark Cuban picks Thunder to win title; “absolutely” would consider VP run with Clinton or Trump

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Mark Cuban went on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning and was classic Cuban.

We’ll start with the basketball comments because, well, this is a basketball site and all. Cuban went against the grain — shocking — and picked the Thunder to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.

“You know, I’m going to take a little bit of a long shot here and go with the Thunder,” Cuban said.

Then came the political talk.

When asked separately if he would run as the vice presidential candidate for likely major party nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, he responded “absolutely” but said he would want them to listen and seriously consider where he differs from them on policy issues. Cuban also would not rule out a future run for president himself, saying what Trump has done has made it okay not to be a “Stepford candidate” anymore.

Basically, Cuban will do what is best for Cuban. Which is what he usually does.

David Blatt said he will coach next season. Somewhere.

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David Blatt has interviewed with the Nets, Knicks, and Rockets coaching openings this offseason, but is still looking for his second chance in the NBA after the Cavaliers let him go mid-season.

That doesn’t mean he’s taking a year off.

Blatt is known to have a series of standing offers in Europe and said he will coach somewhere next season during a coaching clinic, as reported by Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today.

In a brief conversation, Blatt said he will not take next season off and suggested that if he doesn’t have a head coaching job in the job, he will take one overseas as opposed to working as an assistant or associate head coach in the NBA.

“I don’t see myself not being a head coach somewhere but you never know,” he said….

“I’m going to coach next year. I’m not going to sit out. It’s not in my nature. I want to work,” he said. “I’ll be back somewhere. Could be anywhere.”

If he wants to be in the big chair, and barring a “Lost” level plot twist, that means he will be back in Europe.

Blatt will and should get another chance in the NBA. His knowledge of the game is fantastic, his ability to get players to trust him and buy into his plan is where he fell far short (granted, he was hired to coach a rebuilding team only to have LeBron James make his announcement and change the dynamic). We will see if Blatt learned from his first NBA job and can apply those people skills.

But it may be a year or more before we find out.

Warriors at Thunder Game 3: Three key questions that will decide game?

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The Thunder showed off their improved defense in Game 1; the Warriors looked like a 73-win team in Game 2. What will those willing to skip watching Game of Thrones in real time get to see on Sunday? Here are three questions to consider.

1) Will Oklahoma City get back to chasing the Warriors off the three point line? In Game 1, the Thunder did an excellent job of switching the Warriors pick-and-roll, communicating, and taking away most of the clean looks Golden State likes to get from three (the Warriors had to drive, where Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka did a good job protecting the paint). That communication and focus were gone in the second half of Game 2 — the Thunder struggled to be consistent on defense all season, now they have done it in these playoffs. You could see it when Curry was making his 15-point run — the Thunder were missing switches and not rotating fast onto guys — but it wasn’t just him getting clean looks. I expect we will see the more focused Thunder defense at home in Game 3 — and it needs to be, I can guarantee you if left open the Warriors will knock down their shots.

Specifically in Game 3, Ibaka must be better. The Warriors took advantage of his slow-footedness on the perimeter and half-step-too-slow rotations inside, and with that he started to wear down and look tired. The Warriors scored over and around him all game. That can’t happen again for OKC if they are going to win Game 2 (or, Billy Donovan needs to sit Ibaka more and play Kevin Durant at the four).

2) Which team controls the glass? Oklahoma City is one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA, and because they are playing big you’d expect them to dominate the glass in this series. However, in Game 2 Golden State won the rebounding battle 45-36 (I’m generally not a fan of the total rebound stat, but in this case it proves a point). Golden State had 15 offensive rebounds and 15 second chance points. If the Warriors do that again, they will win again — this is an area the Thunder should and need to win.

3) What will Andre Roberson do? Roberson is getting the Tony Allen treatment — the Warriors are covering him with a center (Andrew Bogot or Draymond Green) who basically ignores Roberson in favor of protecting the paint. It was a problem (particularly in the second half) for Kevin Durant because his defender could be ultra aggressive out on the perimeter knowing here was help right behind him. Roberson did not make the Warriors pay for leaving him wide open — they will let him take threes all game long, and Roberson does not finish that well inside. The Thunder need to make an adjustment here (have Russell Westbrook come over and get the ball from Roberson on a handoff?) because the Warriors are not going to change this strategy until they pay a price.

The past two playoffs runs, the Warriors often had slower starts — think being down 2-1 to Cleveland in the Finals last season as the prime example — before they “figure a team out” and just dominate the series. The Warriors are so versatile they can try a wide range of strategies to see what works, but once they do they are relentless. The Roberson problem for the Thunder leads to the bigger question, have the Warriors figured the Thunder out? We shall see on Sunday evening.

Watch Bismack Biyombo pull down 26 rebounds


While we can talk about the chess moves that Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey should or should not be making, the bottom line is unless Kyle Lowry and DemMar DeRozan started hitting their shots, and unless Bismack Biyombo starting dominating in the paint, it didn’t matter what moves Casey made, his team was toast.

Welcome to Game 3, where DeRozan was 12-of-24 for 32 points and Lowry shot 7-of-13 for 20. However, the biggest star may have been Biyombo, who thrived in front of the home crowd pulling down a franchise playoff record 26 rebounds (plus blocking four shots and wagging his finger as he did). Biyombo owned the paint and the glass on the night, and that’s why the Raptors are down 2-1 in this series rather than facing elimination.