Kurt Helin

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers

Even at age 38, Vince Carter has mad hops


Just a few days ago we were talking about Vince Carter throwing down the greatest in-game dunk in history — clearing 7’2″ Fredric Weis during the 2000 Olympics.

That was 23-year-old, high-flying Carter. What kind of springs does he have left at 38? Pretty darn good ones.

Carter’s role with the Grizzlies is not that of high-flying dunking machine (that’s Zach Randolph… er, wait), rather Carter is there to provide three-point shooting and veteran stability off the bench. Things he’s done well in the twilight of his career.

But with those hops he’s going to turn back the clock at least once this season — and that’s going to be awesome.

Steve Kerr takes leave of absence from Warriors due to back issues

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings

While the rest of the Warriors were celebrating their NBA title this summer (and playing a little golf), Steve Kerr did something decidedly less fun — he had had back surgeries. Plural. Two of them to deal with issues that were likely exacerbated by a career where throughout his youth he had to up and down a hardwood court all the time.

Those surgeries left him in enough pain and limited in action that Kerr is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Warriors to deal with it, the team announced Thursday.

Luke Walton takes over as the Warriors’ interim coach (so the Warriors go from the guy who looks like an old skateboarder to the guy who looks like an old surfer). Alvin Gentry had been the guy in the seat to the left of Kerr last season, but he took the head coaching job in New Orleans this season.

There is no timetable the Warriors would give on Kerr’s return.

“At this point, the most important thing is to make sure Steve is healthy, completely recovered and ready for not only the rigors of a long NBA season, but day-to-day life in general,” Warriors General Manager Bob Myers said in a statement. “We don’t anticipate the recovery process will be long-term, but as of today we don’t know the exact timeframe. We’ll evaluate his progress daily and provide updates as necessary.”

“After the first two days of training camp, I realized I need to take a step back and focus on my rehabilitation in order to be ready for the grind of another NBA season,” said Kerr in his statement. “As I noted last week, my summer was difficult and no fun due to the multiple back surgeries. At this point, I simply want to get healthy and back to my normal daily routine on and off the court.”

The Warriors have their system in place and everybody back from last season’s title team, so this should not be a huge setback. They still have Stephen Curry, and he can still knock down threes.

But Kerr was the master of pushing the right buttons with this team last season and if Walton can’t do that you have to wonder if it costs them a couple wins in a very tight West.

Dorell Wright’s advice to brother Delon: Avoid card games on planes

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers
1 Comment

Dorell Wright spent the past 11 seasons in the NBA (he is playing in China this season). He was drafted by Miami and played for Golden State, Philadelphia, and Portland as well. He knows his way around the Association.

His younger brother Delon Wright is entering his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors.

Dorrell penned an open letter to his brother for the Players’ Tribune offering advice on navigating the NBA, on and off the court — the stuff they’re not going to cover in the rookie symposium.

First, run away from the card games on the team plane. Don’t play. Don’t sit down at that table. And if you do play, put a limit on your buy-in. Pick a number, and if you lose it, get up. Guys will talk trash and try to keep you in….

Second, get ready to hear lots of trash talk from the fans. Some places are worse than others. Golden State is going to be live this year because they’re the defending champs. I love playing there. Madison Square Garden is always crazy. And in Philly, there’s this guy behind the Sixers bench who writes down all your stats on a dry-erase board if you’re struggling. He’s hilarious, so don’t take that too personally. When I was traded to Philly in 2012, he was the first guy I asked about. I wanted to make sure he was still a season-ticket holder.

Dorell was clearly having fun with this, but as the letter went on the advice got more serious.

What they don’t tell you is that it’s not just the availability of money that adds temptation, but time. You have all this free time to buy, buy, buy. Really, free time is the root of the trouble you can find as a pro. That’s the hardest thing about the adjustment you’re about to make. When I was at prep school before jumping to the NBA, I had a strict schedule. Be at school at 7:30. Breakfast. Assembly. Class all day, then basketball. Afterwards, it was study hall and maybe one more chance to sneak in some gym time. Most of your days in college were basically planned for you, too.

In the NBA, on non-game days, you’re there at 8 a.m. to get your extra work in and then practice with the team. That takes maybe four hours, tops. Now you’ve got the rest of the day to yourself. You’ll need to learn how to manage your time.

That is sage advice. These are young men with money, time, and people hanging out on the periphery not looking out for their best interests. It’s easy to lose track of the fact this is a job — one you can lose quickly if you don’t respect it.

Go read the entire piece, it’s worth the effort.



Mikhail Prokhorov lead Nets players in drills at camp Wednesday

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets
1 Comment

It sounds like something from an Onion article — NBA’s latest craze: working out with Russian oligarch.

But that’s what happened at Nets training camp on Wednesday, where team owner Mikhail Prokhorov was demonstrating Tescao drills (which I’ll admit, I was not familiar with but are pretty amusing to watch.

Things you’re not going to see Jim Buss do include….

The New York Post’s Tim Bontemps put up a few more on his Instagram account, and again Prokhorov was far better than his employees at these drills.

This is an example of what Mikhail Prokhorov is doing right now at Nets practice:

A video posted by Tim Bontemps (@timbontemps) on

The players aren't quite as good:

A video posted by Tim Bontemps (@timbontemps) on

More Prokhorov and RHJ

A video posted by Tim Bontemps (@timbontemps) on

Kevin Love to be higher profile, get more touches in Cleveland offense

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love

Kevin Love was frustrated at the start of last season. He wasn’t getting as many touches as he was used to, and he was being forced out of his comfort zone on offense (if only Chris Bosh had warned him about all this).

Heading into the second season of the Cavaliers’ big three era, everyone around the team is saying the right things about getting Love more touches in his spots on the floor — LeBron James, coach David Blatt, even Love himself. Which is what you should expect at the start of training camp, the offense hasn’t been put under any stress yet.

It’s just a comfort level thing if you ask LeBron and Love, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN did.

“I just think he’s more comfortable in the situation that he’s in,” James said after practice Wednesday. “He’s got a year under his belt; he knows what he expects out of himself and what his teammates expect out of him. I expect big things from him this year with a year up under his belt.”

That’s two uses of “under his belt” in one paragraph, so you know LeBron is serious.

“I think all of us will be more comfortable with what we’re trying to do out there,” Love said. “I think that, like I said (Monday), it all starts with the big man, No. 23, and it all kind of trickles down from there. I think if all the pieces fit together as we expect, we’ll be a tough team to deal with.”

Coach David Blatt has bothered to watch film and think about this.

“No question, this summer we looked for and identified ways that we can take advantage of Kev’s unique skill set and hopefully we’ll see that on the floor,” Blatt said.

I’d say this is the most important one, the coach saying he has come up with sets that play to Love’s strengths, save for one little detail — Blatt’s offensive designs are not the ones the Cavs often run. Last year’s Cavaliers’ offense looked nothing like what he ran in Europe or tried to install in training camp, LeBron and Kyrie Irving pushed them to a more traditional/predictable offense (which worked for them because of their talent level).

Love is going to get more touches to start this season, in large part because Irving will be sidelined. But when LeBron and Irving — two players who like the ball in their hands and to penetrate — are both back on the court, will things really change for Love? It’s one of the questions the Cavaliers need to answer during the season if they are going to challenge whatever team comes out of the West into the NBA Finals.