Mike Trudell: A collection of G-League/overseas players…

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January 20, 2020 | 2:48 pm UTC Update
As one of the returnees on a team with eight newcomers, Kurucs was passed on the depth chart by multiple players until he recently found his stride. After such a promising rookie season in which he averaged 8.9 points per game on 45 percent shooting, Kurucs is averaging 4.3 points on 46 percent shooting this year. He still has the second-half of the year to prevent a sophomore slump, but given the Nets’ depth at forward and uncertainty surrounding his court case — he’s facing multiple domestic violence-related charges stemming from a September arrest — it’s hard not to wonder about his long-term future with the organization.
“I didn’t even know,” Mykhailiuk said Saturday night, after scoring a career high for a second straight game with 25 points in the Pistons’ 136-103 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. “I knew it was a business and sooner or later people get traded. It’s part of the business of the NBA. I was like, ‘Alright, I got to keep doing my thing, working hard and hopefully I’ll play in Detroit.’ ” He’s doing more than playing; he’s excelling.
Antetokounmpo, the overwhelming favorite to win MVP again, believes that line of thinking should be turned the other way, toward the team that is currently on pace to become the third team in NBA history to win 70 games. “I don’t think there’s a team in this league we cannot beat,” Antetokounmpo said. No Eastern Conference team has recorded back-to-back 60-win seasons since James’s Cleveland Cavaliers from 2008-2010. These Bucks bear some resemblance to those Cavaliers.
Milwaukee also might not have the supporting cast that warrants a “SuperTeam” label, but the pieces around Antetokounmpo fit. What else matters? And, while they did blow a 2-0 lead against Toronto, they were a shot or two from being up 3-0 before losing in double overtime. Leonard really was on one. “We’re not worried about it at all. People can think whatever they want. We know what we have going on in this locker room. We know what we need to do and what we need to accomplish. We’re not too worried about any outside influences,” Middleton said, declining to make the above case.
Walker’s 29th try to defeat James comes Monday when his Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers in the first of two regular-season matchups — assuming that Walker returns after missing the Celtics’ previous game on Saturday with left knee soreness. In eight seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, Walker stepped onto the court against James 24 times in the regular season and four times in the 2014 NBA playoffs, and never left the court with a win.
“I know he still thinks about it a little bit,” said Phoenix Suns center Frank Kaminsky, Walker’s teammate for four seasons with the Hornets, “and he wants to beat him.” The Hornets did have one win against James’ Cleveland Cavaliers when Kaminsky and Walker were teammates — a 106-97 victory in Charlotte on Feb. 3, 2016. But Walker was sidelined by a sore left knee and replaced by Jeremy Lin, who scored 24 in the win.
Steve Clarke, who lives in Norway, first visited the museum by himself while his son was practicing at the FedExForum on Dec. 14. But after going on the tour, he was excited to tell his son about his trip and suggested Brandon attend when he had the time. “I said, ‘This museum is around the people you are around every single day, and it’s part of you as well,’ ” said Steve Clarke. “ ‘Although I am not African American, I am of Jamaican descent, so that is the same thing. They paved for you to get here, otherwise it would not have worked out for me or you.’ ”
The Clarkes spent nearly two hours at the museum. The Grizzlies forward said the exhibit on slavery touched him the most. His father added Clarke was stunned about how poorly African Americans were treated and made a point to talk to his son about the importance of freedom. “He stayed for everything. Watched everything and listened to everything. I was really happy to see that he was interested to see that,” Steve Clarke said. “I felt good about it. I didn’t know if he really wanted to see anything like that. That is not something we really talk about on a regular basis.”
“All these other idiots who don’t play basketball and never played basketball, when they say you wanna judge a guy’s greatness by number of championships … they’re idiots.” It’s safe to say Robert Horry is fed up with NBA fans using rings instead of common sense in debates … telling TMZ Sports titles don’t mean a damn thing when talkin’ G.O.A.T.s. “Here’s the thing that people are so stupid about. They measure great players by how many championships they win. It’s the stupidest thing,” Big Shot Bob told us at the California Strong charity softball game on Sunday.
January 20, 2020 | 12:46 pm UTC Update
“Thankful, most of all,” Carter says of the treatment. “And I say that because I was an opponent for 22 years for most of these teams and obviously these are great organizations that are class acts and for them to do that is great. “I just enjoy playing the game regardless of being an opponent of these different organizations … regardless, it’s a brotherhood, it’s a small community and it makes for an emotional roller coaster.”
And he will hearken back to those glory days of the early 2000s and that special night in Oakland he got to witness in person. “I tell you what, I was thankful that I was able to be there and see those guys win. I remember sitting next to Tracy (McGrady) and thinking, ‘Do you believe what’s about to happen?’ There was like two minutes left, and it was like, ‘Dude, this is unreal.’
“It’s different, but I prefer my people on the East Coast,” Bradley said. “Some people might be offended by that, but I mean, especially knowing I’m from the West Coast. I don’t know if it’s because it’s home for me or what, but I just feel like people are real good friends. That’s all it is. I could go years without talking to someone in Boston but [when] I see them, it’s a real friendship. People are honest, that’s the culture. East Coast, but specifically Boston. People are just good people.”
Even if he does decide to play, he may make his signal behind the scenes in the coming weeks and let the world know when he arrives at training camp. For now, Wiggins is keeping his cards close to his chest. “I’m not sure [about the summer],” he said Saturday after recording his first career triple-double in a Timberwolves loss to the Toronto Raptors. “Right now my team is struggling a little bit [they were five games out of the 8th seed in the West as of Sunday] so we have to get back and try to get in a playoff run. That’s my main goal right now. And after that I’m going to decide on Canada Basketball.”

January 20, 2020 | 1:29 am UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 10:33 pm UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 10:08 pm UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 9:19 pm UTC Update
And now here we are, with the Sixers charging headlong toward the playoffs, ready to make good on what head coach Brett Brown has proclaimed is a championship-caliber team. This is new territory for Brown, who was hired as coach seven years ago, just when the team embarked on an epic intentional collapse — dubbed “The Process” — in order to position itself near the head of the worst-goes-first line in the drafting of the best college players. The team set records for losing over four years, and Brown, all along, stood behind this method, often talking about his players as if helping them become men might be his real job. Was Nerlens Noel, a center the team drafted in the early days of the Process, engaged in timeouts? Was he helping teammates off the floor? How was he comporting himself on planes when the team went on the road? At the end of 2014, when Embiid was proving to be high-maintenance as he rehabbed a broken foot, Brown said this: “Joel Embiid has a good heart. At the end of the day, he has a good heart. I don’t throw that sentence out lightly. That needs to be the criteria of everybody in here.”
Meanwhile, Brown’s approach hasn’t changed. He talks up his best players, never criticizing them publicly. And to this point, it’s worked, obviously: Embiid and Simmons, 25 and 23 years old, are All Stars. But they still have a big piece of themselves to overcome, or to unlock. They still need to grow up. Which gives Brown, who started out in Philly with all the room in the world, a dilemma: Suddenly, he has very little time. Sixers owner Josh Harris has a history of listening to the noise of fans and media, plenty of whom think the team’s head coach should stop babying his two stars and force-feed their growth, given that they’re being paid tens of millions a year and we’re so close to that championship.
IT MIGHT SEEM, then, a bit strange that Brett Brown talks a lot about toughness as central to what he’s all about, though it’s not by accident. “Philly tough, Philly strong” was the banner phrase of an early-season team promo featuring the coach’s voice. Talking toughness is a part of getting his team to play in a certain style, but for Brown, it’s also been a natural way of connecting to the city, of molding a certain persona. “You become a spokesperson and mouthpiece of the owners and players,” Brown says. “I am quite calculated on what I want to talk about.” It helps his standing here, too.
But Brown, who’s 58, does come by toughness, in his own way, naturally. He grew up in seaside Maine towns where his father coached basketball. His father’s father made a living taking wealthy businessmen from New York and Boston and Montreal to fish or hunt moose and bear in Northern Maine. And his father — Brett’s great-grandfather — had a job as a railroad switchman, changing the tracks to direct trains either to Quebec or Montreal. “He had to shovel snow off the tracks and remove dead animals, too,” Brown says. “Which could be anything.”
January 19, 2020 | 7:24 pm UTC Update
January 19, 2020 | 6:26 pm UTC Update

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