Kurt Helin

Thunder’s Steven Adams dunks on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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One of the myths about Russell Westbrook is that he’s not a good passer. If someone tells you that, you know they haven’t watched much Westbrook the past couple seasons, Westbrook has become one of the better passing point guards in the game.

He showed that on this play, with a nifty pocket pass to Steven Adams, throws it down over a rotating LeBron James. To be clear, this shouldn’t be on LeBron, he rotated in to help, and he could have stayed out of the poster and let Adams just have the dunk, but he went for the big play. You want that from your stars.

LeBron got some revenge in the fourth quarter, finishing through Adams for an and-1 layup.

This game was as close and entertaining as we could have hoped for.

Detroit’s Jennings to play in D-League game as part of rehab

Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings will play for the team’s D-League affiliate as he enters the final stages of his rehabilitation from a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Jennings hasn’t played since injuring his left leg in a Jan. 24 game at Milwaukee. The Pistons announced Thursday that he had been assigned to the Grand Rapids Drive. Grand Rapids faces Iowa on Saturday.

Pistons general manager Jeff Bower says this is a good chance for Jennings to play in a game and work on his conditioning.

Festus Ezeli of Golden State played two games for the Santa Cruz Warriors this past January while working his way back from a sprained ankle.

Nike introduces Kobe 11, his last shoe as active player

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Few NBA players obsess over the details and are as involved in the design of their signature shoes as Kobe Bryant. The attention to detail Kobe put in his game — polishing his footwork, watching endless hours of film — he has put into his shoes.

The new Kobe 11s — which hit stores Jan. 9 — are no different. They are all about innovation, and what Kobe wants in his shoe. From the official Nike press release.:

At first glance, the low-top and simplified silhouette appears familiar. One could be fooled into believing that they’ve seen this before. Wrong. Look closer. See those pearlescent fibers? Those are thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) threads, an indication of progression; and, despite their subtlety, an announcement of the arrival of an evolution, a stronger iteration of Nike Flyknit.

Details matter.

Fittingly, this progressive technology debuts on the KOBE 11, underscoring the dedication to innovation that has cemented Kobe Bryant’s design legacy, one that rivals, if not extends, the champion’s on-court perfectionism.

They look tight. And you know Nike and Kobe are going to sell a lot of them.

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The time Stephen Curry, Drake went to In-n-Out

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 5:  Drake and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors after the game against the Toronto Raptors on December 5, 2015 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Dave Sandford/NBAE via Getty Images)
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First thing to point out here: Notice they went to In-n-Out. Not Five Guys. There’s a reason for that — In-n-Out is better.

After the Golden State Warriors returned to form and throttled the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night — with Drake sitting courtside watching — Stephen Curry decided to go for some late night nosh. His wife came along. So did Drake — remember he dropped Curry’s name in “0 to 100,” so you’ve got to invite him. They all went to In-n-Out.

Did Drake order his double-double animal style?

If you’re a fan of Drake and/or The Weeknd, wait until All-Star Weekend in Toronto. They will be everywhere.

Why the Miami Heat are not likely to move Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Kendrick Perkins
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It’s not going to be easy for the Miami Heat to keep Hassan Whiteside next summer. He’s an unrestricted free agent, as is Dwyane Wade, and paying both what they will ask becomes a serious challenge. Plus, how much will the Heat pay a guy they need to sit for critical stretches of the fourth quarter?

Normally, this would mean that the Heat would be looking to trade him, or, at least, be considering it. And Whiteside’s name has come up in rumors about DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard deals.

Don’t bet on it. The money doesn’t come close to working out. Ethan Skolnick laid it out beautifully at the Miami Herald (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Whiteside’s contract is virtually worthless to another team. That doesn’t mean Whiteside is worthless. His skill set is worth plenty, even in a smallball era. But he’s making just $981,348 this season, and he will be a free agent as soon as the season ends. Miami cannot sign him to an extension now and, unless he’s willing to take a mid-level deal (he won’t be), the Heat will need to use cap space to re-sign him because it doesn’t have Bird Rights on him….

But here’s the thing about the Heat not having Bird Rights: Neither would any team that acquires him.

That means there is virtually no advantage to acquiring him now. He’s simply headed back into the free agent pool at the end of the season, when every team will have a chance to pitch him. The only potential edge you get in getting him early is that you can get him acclimated to your system, and try to show him it’s the perfect place for him to spend his future. In other words, exactly the same situation the Heat is in now with him. But that doesn’t seem like very solid ground, not solid enough to deal a real asset for him.

Skolnick says the Heat are “amused” by the trade rumors because they know a deal is highly unlikely.

As for the two big rumors out there, Howard makes $22.3 million and Cousins $15.8 million this season. Again, Whiteside makes less than $1 million. To do those deals means the Heat have to send a lot of salary out, cutting deep into their rosters. (The Kings aren’t going to move Cousins’ anyway, but that’s another discussion.)

And both teams would demand Justise Winslow in the deal as well.

All of which is to say, it’s not that a Whiteside deal is impossible, but it’s not likely. He probably ends the season with the Heat.