Author: Kurt Helin

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Game Four

Report: Clippers, Nets talk Paul Pierce sign-and-trade


Right now these talks are preliminary, because if LeBron James decides to leave Miami the Clippers want in that discussion with all their available weapons (they would have to do a sign-and-trade). Nobody around the league thinks LeBron bolting South Beach is likely, but such is the power and draw of LeBron that even a hint he could come has slowed the free agent market waiting for that domino to fall.

However, the Clippers and Nets have had preliminary talks about a sign-and-trade that would re-unite Paul Pierce and his former coach Doc Rivers, reports Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk at ESPN.

And while the Clippers could simply sign Pierce as a free agent using their midlevel exception at $5.3 million, they are interested in pursuing sign-and-trade scenarios that would allow Brooklyn to get something in return for the 10-time All-Star and because the Clippers already have so many small forwards….

The Clippers likely would include some combination of Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes and last year’s first-round pick, Reggie Bullock, according to sources.

Jamal Crawford also could be in that mix.

Pierce was firmly in the Jason Kidd camp in Brooklyn and with Kidd now actually having to develop players in Milwaukee it is unclear how Pierce — or Kevin Garnett — feel about the old-school Lionel Hollins coming in as coach. He can leave as a free agent, but he can get more money from the Clippers via a sign-and-trade. Plus the Nets would get something back in return.

Improving at the three and adding depth to the front line are two of the Clippers big off-season priorities (as well as re-signing Darren Collison or landing another quality backup point guard).

The Clippers brought in Jared Dudley play the three last year but the previously solid jack-of-all-trades player struggled to fit in Rivers’ system and his efficiency (and needed three point shooting) fell off. The Clippers are on the hunt for a replacement and Rivers the GM likes to go to players that either played well for him before or played well against him in the past. Pierce certainly fits that mold, and even at age 37 the crafty veteran small forward can get you some buckets (and would find it easier in Los Angles where Chris Paul and Blake Griffin would draw the attention of defenses).

Carmelo Anthony tour moves to Los Angeles as increasingly teams think he stays in New York

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Chicago made its pitch first, and if Carmelo Anthony was going to take a pay cut and leave New York to go somewhere the Bulls are the logical frontrunner — they are already on the cusp of contending just needing more scoring, they have the defensive system Anthony needs around him to win, it’s still a major market, and it’s a team with a good history (thanks to that Jordan guy).

Yet Chicago started to ramp up its pursuit of its second targets (Pau Gasol for one) right after Anthony left and there are whispers of pessimism from them, as reported by Ian Begley at

“They’re worried that he’s headed back to New York,” a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said of early Tuesday morning. “They’re more pessimistic than optimistic.”

The source wasn’t speaking for the entire Chicago front office, just a small segment. So there is reason to believe that not all members of the team’s hierarchy shared this opinion.

If Chicago is pessimistic, then where does that leave Houston and Dallas? Those two teams made their pitches on Wednesday and both can make the case that, like Chicago, with Anthony on board they are instant contenders. But if Anthony is leaving New York for a shot at a title is he going to leave the Eastern Conference to go to the West and the loaded side of the bracket with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and more?

Thursday the Lakers will make their case. They will sell Los Angeles (where Anthony lives in the off-season), the most recognizable brand in basketball, and Kobe Bryant will be at the meeting. But the Lakers are not only in the Western Conference they are farther away from winning than the Rockets and Mavericks and would need to add pieces around ‘Melo and Kobe to be a serious threat. That likely doesn’t happen overnight.

More and more the sense around the league seems to be that Anthony is going to give Phil Jackson a chance in New York.

Nobody knows exactly what Anthony is thinking. It’s a decision he and his family need to make over the coming days (Anthony has been ribbed on talk radio for the influence that his wife Lala may have here, but you try and make a decision about how much money you’ll make and where you’ll live without involving your wife and see how that goes). He could choose Chicago. There is a lesser chance but maybe James Harden and Dwight Howard were convincing in Houston, Mark Cuban was in Dallas.

But more and more it seems Anthony is in a New York state of mind.

Report: Spurs, Patty Mills reach terms on new three-year contract

Patty Mills, Gregg Popovich

When word came down this week that Patty Mills was going to be out seven months following shoulder surgery — not returning to the court next season until the calendar flips to 2015 — his free agency value took a hit.

The likelihood that he would return to the Spurs skyrocketed.

That’s exactly what has happened. Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express News broke the story.

The deal is for around $12 million over three years

Mills told PBT during the Finals it really took about two years of being on this team until he understood how to play within it — this season he had fully blossomed in that system and become a key contributor as the backup to Tony Parker.

“Everyone knows it’s a different place here than everywhere else and it definitely takes some getting used to,” Mills said of the San Antonio offensive system. “The first two years (in San Antonio) where I didn’t play a whole lot I still really believe I got better as a player, mentally more than anything. I’m really able to let it all go in that system now.

Mills is lightning quick and it was getting him to rein in his shoot-first instincts that was hard part (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Mills conditioning was vastly improved this past season, also). Now he’s a part of the Spurs system that works well, and he’ll be with the team at least three more years.

Bucks owners admit mistakes in recruitment of Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd, Marc Lasry

If you’re new owners of an NBA team trying to get a city behind you so you can get some public financing, coming off as disloyal to the staff in place is not the best first move.

But that’s what Milwaukee Bucks owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens — Lasry in particular — admitted to at the introductory press conference for their new team coach Jason Kidd.

Lasry had a relationship with Kidd from when he was part owner of the Nets and that helped spark the conversations between the two sides (which Kidd tried to leverage into more power in Brooklyn but that failed).

The Bucks owners apologized for how they handled everything — nobody was brought in on the talks, not even GM John Hammond. This is the owners’ rationale, as told to Charles Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.

“We were naïve about how this business is put out to the press,” Edens said. “We are used to operating in businesses where discretion is necessary and part of the fabric of it.

“The degree to which the media plays an integral role in basketball was a shock to me.”

Lasry and Edens said they plan to have clear channels of communication in the future and will be involved along with Kidd and Hammond.

“We made the mistake of taking them at face value with what they asked us to do,” Edens said of the Nets owners, who asked for confidentiality in the talks.

As excuses go that is a pretty poor one. The issue isn’t that it became public, the issue is that you went behind the back of your coach to replace him without warning, and didn’t bother to include the guy supposed to be in charge of your basketball operations in that discussion. It was your actions, not your naiveté. It’s their team, they can bring in who you want as coach, but if the two owners had been up front and above board from the start this wouldn’t have been an issue.

This has not played terribly well in Milwaukee, which goes back to the first paragraph of this story — it was already going to be a very hard sell in Milwaukee to get public financing approved for a needed new arena. This is a step in the wrong direction. There is more than enough time to correct that — Kidd doing well as a coach and being good in the community will be a part of that — but the owners need to show they are committed to the city and learn from their mistakes.

Jeremy Lin says he felt disrespected by Rockets’ ‘Melo No. 7, tries to take high road

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks

When Carmelo Anthony arrived at the Toyota Center to get pitched by the Houston Rockets as a free agent, there were pictures of Anthony there holding the Larry O’Brien trophy and wearing a No. 7 Rockets’ jersey.

The jersey that Jeremy Lin still wears for the Rockets.

Which pretty much tells you who stands where on the pecking order in Houston. But did Jeremy Lin feel disrespected by that? Of course, but on twitter he tried to take the high road.

There were reports that the Rockets let Lin know his number would be used, Lin’s agents denied this. As if any of that matters.

It’s not a secret to anyone that Jeremy Lin is on the trade block, in fact if Anthony chooses the Rockets (not likely) they reportedly have a deal already set up where they wouldn’t have to take any salary back. One way or another it’s likely Lin is wearing the No. 7 of another team at some point this year.

This is also far from the first time Lin has felt disrespected as a basketball player, it’s part of what makes him a compelling story and person. He’s overcome a lot, and while his contract may be steep this season he’s an NBA caliber point guard who can do some things very well. That shouldn’t get overlooked in discussions of him.