After beating Tunisia, Team USA has another tuneup coming up against Nigeria. For a recap of all the Olympic action, check out Nick Gibson’s columns. The first wraps up what we’ve seen through two games, and the second predicts today’s winners. And, with the offseason winding down, check out who Moke Hamilton thinks were the biggest losers among NBA players during free agency. Moke will have a winners column later today.
And for all the latest news from around the NBA, start scrolling.
- On the subject of the Olympics, here’s a couple opposing viewpoints on potential future restrictions on NBA players playing in the Games. First, here’s USA Basketball’s Jerry Colangelo, in a Cronkite News story on KTAR.com: “NBA Commissioner David Stern and owners want to restrict players over the age of 23 from playing on the team. They are wary of the wear and tear the Olympic program has on their talent after an 82-game NBA schedule and the long playoffs that follow, arguing sending their highest-paid athletes to represent the country endangers their most valuable assets. Colangelo disagrees. ‘The game comes first, money comes second,’ he said at a team practice. ‘I’m not quite sure that’s true for all owners in sports.’ … Ultimately, the decision isn’t Colangelo’s. But he is lobbying owners not to impose the rule. He said players want to decide whether or not to play for the Olympic team. ‘They love it,’ Colangelo said. ‘I mean, it’s pretty hard to argue with something as simple as supporting the flag and representing your country.’ “
- An opposing perspective comes from Timberwolves GM David Kahn, in a piece from Joan Niesen of Fox Sports North: “Many plans have been put forth, the most popular of which would limit the U.S. Olympic team to NBA players under the age of 23. Other proposals have been for an under-26 squad or a two-Olympics maximum. The under-23 plan has gotten the most press and perhaps the most criticism, but Kahn pointed out that much of the backlash is due to a glaring misconception. ‘The one thing that seems a little bit of a misnomer to me is under 23, I’ve seen people say this would be the last Olympics with NBA players,” Kahn said. “But if it’s under 23, that doesn’t mean there won’t be NBA players. In fact, with the way that kids now come into our sport at the age of 19 and 20, logically there will be NBA players on those rosters, too.’ … The under-23 plan appeals to Kahn because it would still allow NBA players to participate on the international stage. In fact, he said, those young players might benefit more from the exposure than their older teammates, and with the ages at which players are joining the league, plenty of 22- and 23-year-olds are already big enough stars to stir international attention as well. In fact, five of the 12 current players on Team USA would still be within the age limit under such rules.”
- And for a player’s perspective, here’s Tyson Chandler of Team USA, who makes a very good point in an interview with Sean Deveney of the Sporting News: “It’s ridiculous,” Chandler told Sporting News. “Why would you want to do that? Because like I say, throughout the history, just about every time a player has played for the U.S. team, he comes back and had a better season. That goes around the board.”
- Doc Rivers is placing the blame on himself for Ray Allen’s decision to leave the Celtics for the Heat, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Rivers told Yahoo! Sports that his decisions to relegate Allen to a sixth-man role and give point guard Rajon Rondo complete freedom with the ball and leadership were ultimately what helped lead Allen to leave Boston. … ‘People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,’ said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. ‘I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.’ The entire interview is a very good read, with some very candid comments from Rivers. Highly recommended.
- Another lengthy coach interview, this one with the Wizards’ Randy Wittman, by Michael Lee of the Washington Post. Again, the whole thing is a good read, but the highlight is probably this, on John Wall’s statement that he wants to be “the savior” to lead the franchise back to the playoffs: “I hope. I mean, this is a big year for John. It’s his third year. He knows the ins and outs. He’s played an 82-game schedule and a 66-game schedule that probably felt like 102 games. John knows, I think, what is expected of him. The thing I like is, he’s embraced it and I think he wants it. Now, it’s a matter of him taking that next step in his game. And he’s put a lot of hard work in thus far and I’ve been happy with what I’ve seen in what he’s been doing. You always want your leader to want to step up to the plate and make that next move. Like I said, we see it on paper we’re taking about it, but we’ve got to do it right now.”
- The Timberwolves recently signed Brandon Roy, who is making his return to the NBA despite not having any cartilage in either knee. He talked about returning to the game after a year off with Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “[Roy] is optimistic his knees — they can’t be repaired, but the platelet-rich plasma therapy reduces swelling and provides pain relief — will allow him to withstand the grind of an 82-game NBA season, plus playoffs. But will he ever be great again? ‘Yeah, that’s the goal,’ Roy said. ‘That’s the whole reason I’m coming back. I told David [Kahn] when we met that I wouldn’t be coming back if I didn’t think I could reach a high level of basketball. You say great. I just call it a high level. I want to play at a high level and right now, my body is giving me all the signs that I can do that.’ “
- Two things from Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida, via Sulia, regarding Darko Milicic: “Marc Cornstein, agent for Darko Milicic, said client giving no thought to playing overseas next season. “No,’’ Cornstein said of the free-agent big man. “He will be back in the NBA.’’ The Miami Heat remain in the mix as a team looking at Milicic. However, Cornstein said Milicic is still looking at a number of NBA teams, and there’s no timetable yet as to when he might sign.” … “That Darko Milicic is not even considering playing overseas shows how the Serbian has changed from a few years ago when he was very unhappy with the Knicks and told me in November 2009, “I think right now the only spot for me is Europe.” Milicic, though, eventually moved on to Minnesota and regained his NBA confidence. The No. 2 pick from 2003 is now determined to continue to improve his NBA career.”
- Another note from Chris Tomasson via Sulia: “Michael Redd’s agent, Kevin Poston, said the free-agent guard is taking his time in finding a team. “I know he can still play,’’ Poston said of the often-injured 12-year veteran, a former All-Star and Olympic gold medalist. “He knows he can still play. He’s made a lot of money (in his career). What matters is the team, what matters is the coach. He’s taking his time.’’ Phoenix and Chicago had shown interest in Redd, who turns 33 Aug. 24, but apparently have backed off for now.”