<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Los Angeles Clippers Media Day

Quote of the Day: Doc Rivers not impressed with Big Baby’s weight loss

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(Via Ben Bloch of the Los Angeles Times)

That’s funny.

It’s the kind of comment Doc Rivers can get away with as a coach because of his relationship with his guys.

Last season the Clippers picked up Glen Davis after the Magic couldn’t trade him and waived him. He gave them 13.4 minutes, 4.2 points and 3 rebounds a game (numbers that all fell during the playoffs) — and he was a legitimate upgrade. Davis had a history with Doc Rivers from Boston and had been through the playoff wars, but his 13.1 PER was such a drop off from Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan that Rivers couldn’t lean on him much.

This season the Clippers are much better off, with Spencer Hawes and Ekpe Udoh likely getting rotation minutes in front of Davis. Those are huge upgrades for Los Angeles.

Of course, those reduced minutes are not going to help Davis shed any more weight.

Sacramento Kings show off new court for this season

Kings court photo
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source:

Traning camp is also new court season. The Cavaliers have one with the city’s skyline. The Pelicans have one with… a pelican.

And now the Kings are showing off theirs, which is very purple.

Among the highlights noted by CSNBayArea.com:

-A thirty-two foot “Sacramento Proud” declaration will be visible along the sideline.

Kings chief marketing officer Ben Gumpert: “It’s a deep-seated sentiment, and one that defines the relationship between our city and our team.”

-Purple will surround the playing surface on all sides.

-A pair of purple crowns will grace the court, inside each three-point arc.

Ricky Rubio says speculation around Kevin Love “hurt the team and hurt himself”

Minnesota Timberwolves Media Day
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Last season in Minnesota there only seemed to be two questions: “Wait, who is hurt now?” and “So, Kevin Love, where do you plan to play next season?”

Frankly the first question doesn’t get mentioned enough when discussing the Timberwolves struggles last season (although there certainly were issues beyond injuries), but the second one…

Ricky Rubio brought it up again talking about the future of the Timberwolves with Jeff Caplan of NBA.com.

“Of course we had a lot going on last year and the media was talking, they were wondering if Kevin wanted to be here, blah, blah, blah, and that hurt the team and hurt himself,” Rubio said. “Now that he’s not here, the media’s not going to talk about that anymore. I think that’s going to be good for him and for us.”

Um, maybe the not talking about him is nice Ricky, but the team is not better off. Maybe Wiggins can develop into the kind of talent Love is…. but Love already is. Okay, but time to move on…

Except this season Rubio could be the distraction.

Rubio’s name is going to come up in a lot of trade rumors this season as he is up for a contract extension and if not done by Oct. 31 (highly unlikely outcome) he is a restricted free agent. Team coach/president Flip Saunders doesn’t want to pay Rubio what the player (and his agent) think he can get on the open market. Rubio may be in for a surprise there, but in the short term Saunders is going to listen to legitimate offers, and those will flow in.

It will be Rubio’s year to hear “So, where do you plan to play next season?”

That said, he said he wants to take a leadership role on this team.

“We have to step up, especially me as a leader, be more vocal. Our young guys, they need someone to guide them. I think we have a lot of vets here that can do that. Mo [Williams] is a great example. Me and Kevin Martin can do the same thing.

“What I’ve been doing, since I am young, is leading by example, practicing hard and doing everything on the court. I have to learn how to be more vocal. I’m not good at that and I have to improve.”

It’s something that would help his trade value, too.

Cavaliers coach Blatt wisely says he plans to give LeBron, other guys nights off

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day
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LeBron James is a physical freak of nature who can take the pounding of 82 NBA games as well as anyone.

But why should he?

If the goal for the Cavaliers are the games in late May and June — and it certainly is — why not give him some rest in January and February?

Or a practice in October? LeBron sat out practice Friday morning and we could see guys like Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao among others get rest during the season, Cavaliers coach David Blatt suggested Friday, as reported by Sam Amico of Fox Sports.

“We wanted to give him a little bit of a break. We may do more of that,” Blatt said. “These are guys with multiple years on their resume and on their legs, so we’re trying to be careful and smart with them.”

Blatt indicated James and other long-time veterans could potentially sit out games for the purpose of rest and maintenance during the regular season.

As they should. This isn’t even a debate.

The NBA season is a marathon, throw in a deep playoff run and it is an eight month grind. It’s a lot of running up and down a hardwood floor every day. If you don’t think giving guys a day off matters and works, I’d like to take a look at the San Antonio Spurs and think again. Or how Erik Spoelstra won with the Heat, or Doc Rivers with the Celtics, or even Phil Jackson a little back in the day.

Blatt’s smart. There will be good times to get veteran legs some rest this season and he should take advantage of it. It will matter come the playoffs and he knows it.

Cavaliers’ players rave about David Blatt’s “Spurs-esque” offense

David Blatt
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LeBron James has already mastered it.

Mike Miller called it “borderline genius.”

Now Brendan Haywood has called it “Spurs-esque.”

It’s Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt’s offense, and those three are not alone. All the Cavaliers players are raving about it. The offense is based on Princeton principles (that’s where he played in college) and honed over decades in Europe where you can’t just throw the ball to LeBron and clear out a side. Blatt said this summer the goal is a read-and-react offense — read the defense then make your cut/pass/move based on how to unbalance the defense, in concert with your teammates. The ball constantly moves and so do the players. It’s a direction the NBA is trending — no just raising two fingers and getting “horns” or “floppy” or some other play where the defense knows what is coming (likely because they run it). Too much good scouting to get away with that now.

Blatt was brought over after winning 19 trophies in 21 years of coaching in Europe because he was seen as an offensive genius. As the Cavaliers players are getting a good look at his offense, they are agreeing. Look what some Cavs players told Brendan Bowers of SLAM.

Brendan Haywood: “I like his offense a lot. There’s great ball movement, which is very key in the game of basketball. There isn’t as much of one-on-one. There’s a lot of the ball being kicked from one side of the court to another, which is important. But I said ‘Spurs-esque’ because it’s really all about ball movement—like how the Spurs create those mismatches with defenses by moving the ball so precisely. It doesn’t let the defense lock in on one guy.”

Shawn Marion: “But it’s really free-flowing, like I said. The ball really moves. By moving the ball like that, we should be able to keep some offensive pressure up on teams. Spacing is really important too. Both forward positions are interchangeable and it’s important for guys to get to their spots.”

Joe Harris: “I really enjoy the offense overall. It’s great for guys like myself and James and Mike Miller because it gives you spacing to knock down shots. Then that opens things up for our playmakers, LeBron, Kyrie, Dion, those guys can really attack the basket and create off the bounce with that spacing.”

Two quick thoughts:

First, the idea of LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving all working in unison in a Spursian offense is downright frightening. That’s a boatload of talent that, if it buys in and executes the system, will be fearsome on offense and challenge the Clippers (and a few others) for best offense in the NBA. In a couple years it may not be that close.

Second, it could take time. When you talk to the Spurs about the transition to their current offense they say it really took two seasons to get it — Patty Mills told PBT he sat on the bench for a couple seasons just absorbing before he could step into his current backup role. The Cavaliers will still be a very good offensive team this season but it may be next season or the one after that before their offense really starts to pay huge dividends (the Kincks will go through the same trials with the triangle).