Sheridan Hoops http://www.sheridanhoops.com Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:08:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 SH Blog: Derrick Rose Will Practice For Team USA On Monday http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/28/sh-blog-derrick-rose-will-practice-for-team-usa-on-monday/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/28/sh-blog-derrick-rose-will-practice-for-team-usa-on-monday/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:55 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78637

Rose-USABDerrick Rose will be taking the first steps towards returning to competitive basketball when he practices with Team USA tomorrow. The 2011 NBA MVP has struggled with staying on the court since tearing his ACL in 2012.

After missing all of the 2012-13 season, Rose finally made his return last year for the start of the ’13-14 season. Unfortunately his return was short-lived as re-injured himself after playing just 10 games. Though some would wonder why Rose would risk further injury playing for the National team, the upcoming slate of games for Team USA will help get him back up to playing speed.

In the few games that Rose did manage to play he was far from the player that most recognized, and an International competition such will be a good way to gauge where he is performance wise. The most intriguing part of Rose’s involvement in Team USA is that he might not make the final cup for the upcoming FIBA World Cup. Narrowing the final roster down to 12 players will be difficult considering Team USA will need quality point guards, and already have a slew of last minute drop outs. Considering that Rose has had major knee surgeries that have kept him sidelined the past couple of seasons, one could assume that he is on the bubble list of players that will be cut.

To his advantage, it is Rose’s previous experience with Team USA that will give him an edge on making the final roster. It also helps that Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is part of the United States coaching staff.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports:

“This is the next step,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who also serves as Mike Krzyzewski’s assistant for USA Basketball. “Derrick has handled every step to this point the right way. The last time he participated in USA Basketball, he followed that with his MVP season (in 2010-11). So we’re hoping he can use this time productively.”

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and Krzyzewski typically place a high premium on previous experience in making roster decisions. So the fact Rose played on the 2010 World Championship team that won gold in Turkey is equity that could come in handy.

There will be plenty of people watching Rose with vested interest when Team USA competes in their upcoming exhibition games against the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico before the World Cup.

Other News Around The League:

  • jimmy-butlerIn other Team USA News, USA Basketball announced that Jimmy Butler will be unable to participate in this week’s training camp in Las Vegas. Butler was slated to be on the USA Select Team.Butler was only expected to serve as a member of the Select team for the training camp, with his chances of being called up to the National team being slim to none.
  • 220px-Joakim_Noah_3Keeping up  with the trend of Chicago Bulls players in the news, Joakim Noah also made headlines. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had some choice words regarding LeBron James and the Bulls quest to winning a championship. Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago reports: “Every time LeBron steps onto the court he’s affecting the game,” Noah told ESPNChicago.com on Sunday during a promotional event for Adidas. “He’s the best player in the game, but that being said, I think we have a chance to beat them. And that’s the goal. We want to beat LeBron James, we want to beat the Miami Heat, we want to beat all those teams who are in our way. He’s obviously one of the big obstacles.” The emotional leader of the Bulls is excited about the roster moves his team has made over the past few weeks and is confident they can overcome James and the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. “It’s not about him. It’s about us,” Noah said. “It’s about our team and being the best team that we can be, then time will tell.”

 

Esau Howard is a regular contributor to Sheridan Hoops. You can follow him on Twitter at @EsauTheFirst.

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Eisenberg: Is Aron Baynes the next Bill Laimbeer? http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/28/eisenberg-is-aron-baynes-the-next-bill-laimbeer/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/28/eisenberg-is-aron-baynes-the-next-bill-laimbeer/#respond Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:27:17 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78629

It might sound ridiculous to try to compare Aron Baynes, an undrafted reserve with four career starts, to Bill Laimbeer, a four-time All Star and NBA champion. However, the two have more in common than you would expect.

Before Laimbeer became the ringleader for the Pistons’ Bad Boys and a namesake for a Super Nintendo videogame, he was an afterthought.

Sandwiched in the draft between two players who never appeared in the NBA, Laimbeer – the 65th overall pick in 1979 – was forced to start his professional career in Italy for developmental purposes.

His limitations were obvious: forgettable leaping ability, slow legs in transition and – most glaringly – a mere 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in his senior year at Notre Dame. Still, at nearly seven feet tall and 250 pounds, Laimbeer was a physical mammoth, enabling him to eventually find a place in the league under the typecast of a “bruiser.”

Nearly every team has a bruiser in today’s NBA. Even as the league has veered away from the hard fouls of bully ball, physical reserves have remained crucial in the rare moments when teams need to slow down elite big men or deliver message fouls to opposing stars.

As a result, bruisers have become the NBA’s most situational and limited role player: lefty specialists of basketball, if you will.

Most bruisers find their niche and embrace its simplicity. Reggie Evans, for example, has played for seven teams in 12 NBA seasons and has pedestrian career averages of 4.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. At 6-8, he is undersized for a big man and he’s never blocked more than 16 shots in an entire season. BKN_Evans_Reggie

For a frame of reference, Andrea Bargnani – whom no one would ever accuse of playing defense – had more blocks in 2009-2010 than Evans has had in his entire career. Still, Evans continues to make a living because he is willing to do a team’s dirty work and get rough.

It might be surprising to learn that Laimbeer was only slightly more versatile than Evans for most of his career. Unlike Evans, however, Laimbeer eventually developed out of his one-dimensional game and became one of the league’s most dangerous offensive weapons.

History remembers Laimbeer’s offensive versatility fondly; He was one of the league’s first stretch big men, netting more than 200 3-pointers in his career. In truth, Laimbeer was incredibly limited for much of his career. He never attempted more than 21 threes in a season until the age of 30 and shot above the league average from deep in just three of his 14 seasons.

Still, because Laimbeer’s offensive game expanded at the outset of the Pistons’ first championship run, fans 25 years later remember him as a perennial floor spacer.

Strength is one of the few assets that all players maintain as they age. So as Laimbeer developed his offensive touch in his late 20s, he suffered no discernible regressions on defense in terms of physical presence around the rim.

Look around the league today and it’s increasingly clear that Laimbeer’s game has yet to be mimicked by anyone. While stretch big men are more present than ever, very few – if any – supplement their perimeter shooting with interior defensive dependability.

That’s a large reason why Channing Frye got $32 million from Orlando this summer despite averaging just 5.1 rebounds as Phoenix’s most effective big last season. It’s also why Chris Bosh is still regarded as a max player by most executives around the league: Big men who stretch the floor can turn a good offense into a dynamic one. While also supplying dependable interior defense, they can create matchup nightmares for opposing bigs with limited mobility.

Which brings us to Baynes, the 27-year-old restricted free agent from Australia. Baynes sat behind Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner in the Spurs’ rotation last season, so it is understandable why he’s gone under the radar for so long.

In terms of functionality, Baynes was asked to perform the Reggie Evans role for the Spurs. No more, no less. Rebound effectively, commit hard fouls and agitate opponents of higher profile. In limited time over the past two seasons, Baynes has performed that role masterfully.

Watch Baynes go pound-for-pound with Dwight Howard in the 2013 playoffs and largely succeed. Howard was eventually ejected:

What makes Baynes so intriguing, however, is that he can be so much more on the floor than what San Antonio asks him to be. He’s settled into a Reggie Evans-like role out of team necessity — not out of skill limitation.

Most obviously, Baynes’ analytic projections indicate that he could be a double-double machine. Expanded to 36 minutes, Baynes’ statistics from last season balloon to 11.8 points and 10.6 rebounds. Those are starter-quality numbers, and they barely scratch the surface of his full potential.

Baynes’ rebounding numbers are legitimately impressive, borderline elite. Over the course of the 2013-2014 regular season, Baynes ranked fourth in the entire NBA in contested rebound percentage with 49 percent of his boards coming in traffic (per NBA Stats).

Baynes also swallowed 16.6 percent of all available rebounds (rebound percentage) while on the court last season, a number identical to Laimbeer’s in both of the Pistons’ championship seasons.

Analytics identify Laimbeer (a former rebounding champ and 32nd in history in career boards) as a better defensive rebounder than Baynes but conversely state that Baynes’ offensive rebounding percentage of 13.6 percent from last season would have matched Laimbeer’s very best offensive rebounding season.

And it’s not just the rebounding. Baynes emulates Laimbeer as an interior defensive presence as well.

In the 2014 playoffs, opponents shot just 40.9 percent against Baynes at the rim. While the sample size is small, that’s a percentage on par with the NBA’s best rim protectors in the NBA. For the season, Baynes’ rim protection was on par with most centers (per NBA Stats).

Rebounding and interior rim protection are talents nearly all bruisers have. What really distinguishes Baynes from the Evans-types is his offensive versatility.

In the playoffs, Baynes averaged 0.49 points per touch of the ball, far and away the most efficient of any Spurs player. Of course, the clever passing from Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Diaw and company aided that number.

More tellingly on offense, Baynes also showed deft touch from the center of the floor in limited time during the regular season.Aron Baynes Shot Chart

Eliminate the ill-advised shots from the sides of the hoop and Baynes’ midrange percentages are encouraging. Add the fact that he shot 19-of-21 from the free throw line last season and it is clear Baynes has a sound shooting touch.

Perhaps just a willingness to shoot from midrange makes Baynes a worthwhile project. He connected on 9-of-32 midrange catch-and-shoot opportunities in the regular season. That’s not a spectacular percentage, but keep in mind that Laimbeer also was lost from the perimeter (20-for-90) until his eighth season.

Baynes has only played parts of two seasons and has still yet to hit his prime at age 27. With proper form on his shot already in place and enough confidence to keep shooting, Baynes should be able to gradually expand his Aron Baynes shootinggame to the perimeter and become a deep-ball threat by the age of 30.

You might remember Frye only started attempting and connecting on 3-pointers consistently after four full seasons of perimeter futility. Baynes still has plenty of time and reason to develop a perimeter shot.

Baynes is currently a restricted free agent. San Antonio has extended a qualifying offer for less than $1 million in hopes of retaining him. However, if a team offers him an expanded role and a contract in the range of three years for $6 million, that might prove to be too expensive for the Spurs to match.

It’s time for teams to start taking notice of the underappreciated players Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford like. They usually turn out pretty good.

Jacob Eisenberg is a senior at Emory University in Atlanta and covers analytics within the NBA for Sheridan Hoops. Give him a follow on twitter @eisenberg43 and check out his website as well.

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Tweet of the Night: LeBron James returns to #23 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/27/tweet-of-the-night-lebron-james-returns-to-23/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/27/tweet-of-the-night-lebron-james-returns-to-23/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 02:36:40 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78628

In a surprise announcement early Sunday afternoon, LeBron James shocked the world yet again.

He has made his second major decision of the summer, and will be returning to the #23 jersey he wore during his seven years in Cleveland. His logic was simple, yet somewhat strange. See for yourself on his Instagram/Twitter, which he used to break the announcement.

And just when it seemed like Cavaliers fans couldn’t get any more great news, LeBron just keeps giving. This time, the ability for them to dust off their old jerseys — if they are still in tact – instead of spending money on a new #23.

Previous Tweet

Tweet Of The Night: Kendall Marshall responds to fan about returning to LA

Ben Baroff is a basketball journalist who blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter here.

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Schayes: Search for new Union Director reaches its clumsy finale http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/27/schayes-search-for-new-union-director-reaches-its-clumsy-finale/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/27/schayes-search-for-new-union-director-reaches-its-clumsy-finale/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:09:12 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78616

dannyschayesAfter 18 roller-coaster months, the bumpy search for Billy Hunter’s replacement as executive director of the NBA Players Association seems ready to reach its conclusion. The drama will not end easily.

Even a few days before the final candidate presentations and vote, turmoil reigns as different factions try to impose their respective wills on the process.

What this excruciating process has exposed is that the search for the union head is really about who has control over the players.

It’s certainly not the players. They have voluntarily given their power away.

When the union was founded in the 1960s, a small group of stars led by Oscar Robertson and a few others knew that the players needed to wrest power and control from the owners. Benefits were few, salaries were low, and players just went where they were told.

Then the 1970s became the age of the agent. Players started being represented by agents and turned to them for all kinds of advice and support. By the 1980s, the agents had taken over. Even the union head – Larry Fleisher – was a working agent.

By the time the Hunter era began, all union decisions were made by a few players willing to take charge of things. The rest of the players would merely ask their agents what they should do. But what else can you expect? All players are young and unsophisticated in business matters when they enter the league. That’s why you hire an agent – to be your advisor in these matters.

But the agents know that you will be gone soon and they will still be here. So they look for more and more control.

As a player guy, this year I felt very strongly that players were being managed during the search for Hunter’s replacement. I exposed all of the ways that I saw them being manipulated to generate a certain outcome. In the end, the search was redone.

220px-Kevin_Johnson,_Mayor_of_Sacramento,_CA,_skyline_of_SacramentoThe Executive Committee did what at the time seemed like a smart thing: They asked the mercurial Kevin Johnson to lead a Dream Team advisory committee. Fresh from saving the Sacramento Kings, Johnson was a powerful figure. As a former player turned mayor, he could do no wrong.

But what the players learned was that when you bring in such a powerful person to run things, he runs things. You are out. They had essentially given him the authority to pick their next leader.

Oh, as long as you agree on stuff, it seems like you are all working together. But as we all know, when you disagree, you find out who is really in charge.

That hit the fan this week when the final candidates were being selected. Many insider accounts described a blow-up between Johnson and the players over final control of the process. Johnson seemed in charge until the final step, then decided to withdraw from the process, taking his committee and going home. But even the committee was caught unaware, and several members were unaware of the withdrawal.

So who is calling the shots? Who won the battle? And why is it so hard for the players to be in charge of their own destiny?

Clearly, Johnson and the committee controlled the selection of the final candidates. Clearly, the agents are exerting their will at every opportunity, possibly even having one of their own get the job. There is even a candidate trying to crash the party by enlisting players to invite him to address the players meeting as essentially a write-in candidate.

The 2014-15 season is about three months away, and Donald Sterling still has not been officially removed as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, which nearly prompted the boycott of a nationally televised playoff game. His continued presence would demand some sort of job action by the players that requires intelligent leadership.

On the horizon is a new TV contract in 2016 which some already are saying could double in value. That would Donald Sterlingdramatically impact the union’s position a year later, when both labor and management have the ability to opt out of the current CBA. Given the beating the players took in the last negotiation and the booming business the NBA has become since, it is a virtual certainty that they will be trying to recoup some of their losses.

The bottom line is that all of the drama is the result of the traditional power vacuum left by the players at their own invitation. And in many ways, players are powerless to stop it. They are young and inexperienced. The issues are complex. They are trained to rely on their agents and advisors. As long as the checks roll in, who cares about the other stuff? They rarely take control of their lives. Hunter did little to change it. After all, why give up his control?

All of the people I talked to expected a turnout of about 120 players at the meeting in Las Vegas this weekend. The union will try to explain how that is a pretty good turnout.

But what that really means is that nearly 75 percent of the players have something more important to do than spend a few hours picking the person who will lead them for the next decade or more and who will negotiate their next collective bargaining agreement. The union will try to explain why that is a pretty good turnout.

Until the players get the message that they can be a real power, they will continue to get what they get. And in this case, they’ve got a mess on their hands after Johnson threw his hands up and walked away.

This is a shame.

Danny Schayes is a retired 18-year-veteran of the NBA, a professional broadcaster and soon-to-be-published author now penning NBA columns for SheridanHoops. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE FROM DANNY SCHAYES:

THE END OF TWO ERAS FOR SPURS AND HEAT
HUNTER PLAYED RACE CARD AS HEAD OF PLAYERS ASSOCIATION
WHY A SEVEN-GAME SERIES EXPOSES CHARACTER
DONALD STERLING IS A SCHMUCK, BUT WE ALREADY KNEW THAT
WHAT PLAYERS CAN LEARN FROM DONALD STERLING
HOW PLAYERS HANDLE THE UPS AND DOWNS OF A PLAYOFF SERIES
UNION’S SEARCH FOR A NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR; PART II
RAISING AGE LIMIT TO 21 IS A BAD IDEA, AND SOMEBODY SHOULD SAY SO
BASKETBALL VS. MARKETING: IS THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG?
WHERE IS THE LOVE? SAG LAWYER AMONG CANDIDATES TO REPLACE HUNTER
ARE NBA PLAYERS GETTING PLAYED AGAIN AS UNION HUNTS FOR NEW CHIEF?

 

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Tweet Of The Night: Kendall Marshall responds to fan about returning to LA http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/27/tweet-of-the-night-kendall-marshall-responds-to-fan-about-returning-to-la/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/27/tweet-of-the-night-kendall-marshall-responds-to-fan-about-returning-to-la/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 04:46:54 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78601

Kendall MarshallIt’s no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks latest addition Kendall Marshall, is an avid user of social media. He is heavily engaged in the activities of his Twitter account, and often interacts with fans. Marshall tends to show his humorous side when he tweets, often making jokes or lighthearted statements usually in fun.

Earlier this evening Marshall was asked if he was returning back to Los Angeles, where he played last season as a Laker. With injuries sidelining many key players on that roster, Marshall was among the few that benefited significantly in LA. His response was an amusing tweet that his followers are surely used to seeing from the young point guard.

Though the response could have been interpreted as a serious answer by some, Marshall followed up the tweet immediately afterwards hinting at his own sarcasm.

Marshall was waived by the Lakers earlier this week, despite playing on their roster for the Las Vegas Summer League that just recently concluded.

Previous Tweet:

Tweet Of The Night: Paul George Answers Fans

 

Esau Howard is a regular contributor to Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.  

 

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SH Blog: Longer All-Star break coming? http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/sh-blog-longer-all-star-break-coming/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/sh-blog-longer-all-star-break-coming/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 00:34:04 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78599

I moved to Ohio a few months ago, to a small town west of Toledo. It’s about equal distance from Detroit and Cleveland, so I wasn’t sure what the common basketball allegiance was. As I quickly found out, it was “I don’t really follow basketball.”

Then LeBron came back to Cleveland, and it was all anyone could talk about for a couple days. And this is the offseason. If he can make the Cavs contenders, it could be huge, not just for the Cavs, not just for Cleveland, but for basketball in general. Sports thrive on storylines, and you’re not going to find a better one than this. Imagine a Cavs-Heat playoff series. Imagine the number of casual and non-fans that would draw in. LeBron in Cleveland is great for LeBron, it’s great for Cleveland, and it’s great for the NBA.

Nothing will ever match the Buckeyes’ popularity in this town, but there could be a number of cars making the drive down the Ohio Turnpike to the Q this winter. I know mine will be one of them.

Now let’s get to the latest from around the NBA:

LATEST ON KEVIN LOVE

If you haven’t heard yet, Kevin Love wants to go to Cleveland. Six months ago, that sentence would have made no sense at all, but here we are.

KevinLoveSH1Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the hows and whys of the potential deal:

The new labor agreement allows players to sign a five-year deal (once they are free agents) with their current teams. If they switch teams, the longest contract is four years. It’s why Carmelo Anthony ended up returning to New York. That’s where he could get the most cash — $25 million more than elsewhere.

If Love picks up his option for 2015-16 this summer, the most that a team can immediately add is a two-year extension. I know, this gets complicated. The point is there are a variety of reasons for Love to keep his current deal, and then hit the open market in 2015.

I’m hearing Love will not pick up his option — that he would prefer to go to the Cavs on his current deal, then presumably enjoy being successful playing with LeBron James. Remember, he also has done a commercial with Kyrie Irving. He sees marketing possibilities in Cleveland — along with a chance to win big.

I’m hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love’s current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don’t be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.

I’ve been told the team hasn’t had any real talks with Minnesota Love for at least a week. Minnesota certainly enjoys all the rumors. Team president/coach Flip Saunders knows he has to make the right deal. The former Cuyahoga Heights star is taking over a 40-42 team that wants the playoffs this season. That’s why the Wolves pursued a deal with Golden State starting with Klay Thompson and David Lee — two established scorers.

EXTENDED ALL-STAR BREAK COMING?

Image.AdamSilverIra Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

The NBA is poised to turn the All-Star break into All-Star week this coming season, the Sun Sentinel has learned, providing teams with a full week off at midseason.

The move, which would give players seven days off between games in mid-February, would result in an increase of one or two back-to-back sets per team for the coming season, a party familiar with the process said.

“That’s the model they’re using right now while they’re filling in the schedule,” an NBA source familiar with the process told the Sun Sentinel Friday. “Could they go back and use some of those dates if needed? That’s possible. But the week off looks like what’s going to happen.”

The release of the 2014-15 NBA schedule has been pushed back into August to allow the league’s television partners to adjust for the dramatic shakeup created by free agency, including the shift of LeBron James from the Miami Heat to Cleveland Cavaliers.

With the elongated All-Star break, the possibility of then starting the 2015-16 season a week earlier also has been deliberated recently, although that dynamic has yet to gain traction, according to an NBA source familiar with the situation, with such a move potentially requiring an adjustment in the collective-bargaining agreement.

BOOZER OFFICIALLY A LAKER

boozerMike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times:

The Lakers officially introduced Carlos Boozer by revealing they didn’t think they would get him in the first place.

They submitted a bid for $3.25 million after he was waived by Chicago via the amnesty provision last week.

“Fortunately for us and unexpectedly for us, our bid was the highest bid. Not for a second did we think that he’d be available to us,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday.

Boozer, 32, was working out when his agent, Rob Pelinka, called to say the Lakers had won his rights.

“I was ecstatic and I was jumping up and down,” Boozer said. “I went back out there and got two more hours in.”

He wasn’t so thrilled toward the end of last season with the Bulls when he was playing only the first and third quarters of games. He finished with averages of 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, his lowest since his rookie season with Cleveland in 2002-03.

“Not having a chance to help my team at the end of the game to win was tough. Not getting the opportunity was humbling,” he said. “I learned a lot from that process.”

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Sheridan: Who will make 12-man Team USA roster? — UPDATE http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/sheridan-who-will-make-12-man-team-usa-roster/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/sheridan-who-will-make-12-man-team-usa-roster/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 17:58:41 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78566

barcelonaTeam USA’s itinerary for the World Championship Cup is a nice one: Camps held in Las Vegas, Chicago and New York (including a trip to West Point) before flying across the Atlantic Ocean to the Canary Islands – where the European beach factor is high – and then moving on to Bilbao and Barcelona, another pair of oceanfront cities.

As Charles Barkley once said when Team USA was in Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics: “I’m going to spend so much time at the pool I’ll qualify for the swim team.”

If you have ever been to a European beach or swimming pool, you know what he is talking about.

Grand Canaria will be followed by a side trip to Senegal and Goree Island for a visit to the Door of No Return, one of the saddest and most moving places on Earth. Then it is off to Bilbao, the largest city in Basque country on the northern coast of Spain. The city has its own Guggenheim Museum, nice beaches and a vibrant nightlife. Team USA will be camped there for a week, playing preliminary round games against Finland, New Zealand, Dominican Republic, Turkey and Ukraine, which is coached by Mike Fratello.

From there, it is off to Barcelona for one week, which doesn’t suck.

The competition should not be too difficult, with four teams from Group C, including the USA, playing in the knockout round along with the four survivors from Group D, which includes Slovenia, Mexico, Australia, Lithuania, Angola and South Korea.

It should be a cakewalk all the way to the gold medal game in Madrid on Sunday, September 14. If the basketball gods smile on us, it will be US-Spain. Although the Argentinian team, trying to relive its glory from the 2004 Olympics, will be bringing its A game and could very well crash the final.

The journey begins Sunday in Las Vegas, with 19 players coming to camp after Blake Griffin and Kevin Love withdrew and John Wall and Paul Millsap were added.

The Americans plan to pare their roster to 12 before heading overseas, which means a couple of roster spots will be in play in New York when the US plays the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in two friendlies.

And who will those 12 be?




That is what we are here for today: an educated guess at how the roster might look, barring injuries, after camp in Vegas, another camp in Chicago and then a third domestic stop in New York. It ain’t easy getting down to 12, as Rajon Rondo can attest. Four years ago, he was the starting point guard as the Americans went into Barcelona for a friendly against Lithuania but scored just eight points in the first quarter. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook took over the point guard duties from there, Rondo was cut as the team stopped in Athens to play Greece, and the remaining 12 went on to capture the gold medal in Istanbul as Kevin Durant tore up the tournament.

Durant is playing again, and it is safe to say he will not be at risk of getting cut. But he will have very little company in that category, as I will explain in dividing up the roster.

THE SHOO-INS

durantUSABKevin Durant: True story: In Istanbul four years ago, Durant went nuts in the first six minutes against Croatia, helping the Americans open a 10-point lead. Then, inexplicably, coach Mike Krzyzewski subbed Durant out. The lead stayed right around 10  (which is uncomfortable for the Americans)  for the remainder of the game, and I asked Coach K afterward: Why did you take Durant out?

A week later, Krzyzewski confided in me that he learned something from my question: Why indeed had he taken him out? He would never make that mistake again. On what came to be known as the B-Deem Team, the Americans were going to need to ride Durant in each and every game. And that’s what they did as Durant ran off with the tournament MVP award.

Davis-USABAnthony Davis: True story: In Barcelona two years ago prior to the Olympics, I was sitting on the bench after practice with assistant coach Jim Boeheim, and we found ourselves watching Davis shoot around. “Look at him,” Boeheim said. “He goes out to 15 feet now, and soon he’ll go out to 18 feet. Nobody knows that about his game. In three years, he’ll be the best center in the NBA.”

Team USA has been looking to gradually bring along a center for six years now, once believing Greg Oden would be their man before tonsillitis knocked him out of Team USA camp. Other injuries followed, as you may have heard. Davis is a lock to be the starting center.

CurryUSABStephen Curry: True story: In Turkey four years ago, the Americans practiced at the home court of Besiktas, which would later be the home court for Allen Iverson and Deron Williams. It was at that bandbox arena that the U.S. media relations officials placed a wager among themselves after David Blatt made his infamous comment that the Soviet Union rightfully won the 1972 Olympic gold medal game in Munich.

The media relations folks wondered, and then wagered: Would anyone in the media contingent interview USAB official Mike Bantom, who was a member of that 1972 team? Those with faith in me and my colleagues were rewarded, as Bantom expressed his disgust with Blatt’s comments. (Bantom is now the NBA’s supervisor of officials, and Blatt is now LeBron James’ coach. Keep that in mind when there is a dustup in the future regarding LeBron and the referees.)

What does that story have to do with Curry? It was in that same Besiktas gym that Curry told me he had shot a 76 earlier that day on one of Istanbul’s finest golf courses. Playing from the tips. And Curry was disappointed in himself for shooting that 76.

HardenUSABJames Harden: Enough for a moment with the true stories. Let’s get into the nitty gritty. The roster is overloaded with point guards and shooting guards. The withdrawal of Love on Saturday due to his “current status” left the team without many options at power forward, which means the team will be loaded with shooters and players who can break down defenses off the dribble and get to the line. Like Harden.

He has served his time at the end of the bench on the London Olympic team (he averaged only 9.1 minutes), and Colangelo likes to take care of players who have paid their dues in the program. He is the only backcourt player I consider a lock.

THE POINT GUARDS

Rose-USABDerrick Rose: True story: Rose took over for Rondo as the starting point guard when the United States played its second friendly in Barcelona in 2010, against Spain. He remained the starting point guard through the tournament but didn’t play well.

In fact, he struggled mightily and often found himself replaced in crunch time by Russell Westbrook, who was a Coach K favorite.

It wasn’t until the second half of the gold medal game that Rose looked like the player who would go on to win the NBA’s MVP award.

At least two PGs will be cut, and there is a ready-made excuse for Rose — he is coming off a pair of knee injuries that knocked him out of nearly all of the past two seasons.

If he doesn’t feel he can play at 100 percent, he is expendable.

Lillard-USABDamian Lillard: “It’s going to be awfully hard to keep him off the team,” team director Jerry Colangelo said in a phone conversation I had with him this past spring. With the U.S. playing small, there will be a premium on shooting.

And as anyone who has seen Lillard blossom into an All-Star can attest, he is a lights-out shooter from 3-point range – especially super-deep 3-point range.

But here is the thing about Lillard’s chances of making the final cut: If he isn’t shooting the ball lights-out in the friendlies against Brazil (in Chicago) and the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico (in New York), he could get the phone call that no player wants to get: “Report to Coach K, and bring your playbook.”

KyrieIrvingUSABKyrie Irving: True story: Two years ago, our senior columnist Jan Hubbard was covering USA training camp and wrote in amazement that the youngster from Duke had schooled Deron Williams and Chris Paul, the two starters for Team USA. An excerpt: “After beginning training camp with a couple of five-minute scrimmages that were open to the media, U.S. Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski has pulled the curtain shut. The last four days have featured games divided into four 10-minute quarters between Team USA and the Select Team, which consists of younger NBA players. Media has not been allowed to watch. Although statistics have not been made available, the message from those who are Coach K-approved is that there has been one player who has consistently excelled – 20-year old Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a member of the Select Team. “Kyrie Irving is a player that literally you could move from one court to the other court,” Colangelo said, referring to shooting drills that have the Olympic team and the Select Team on adjacent courts.”

Wall-SABJohn Wall: When there are five point guards, and for the fifth guy picked, it will be an uphill climb to make the final 12-man roster. But it has been done in the past.

Four years ago, Eric Gordon came to camp in Vegas looking like a lock to be left behind. Instead, he was the most consistent outside shooter not named Durant, and not only did he make the team, he was in Coach K’s top five-man rotation by the time the tournament in Turkey ended. Wall’s chances could live or die by the way he shoots the ball, but we have all seen him become quite the accomplished 3-point shooter after making only three 3s during the entire 2011-12 season. (He made 108 of 308 last season). Coach K likes players who can play multiple positions, and that does not help Wall.

THE SHOOTING GUARDS

Beal-USABasketballBradley Beal: Looks like a prime candidate to be cut. Then again, that was what everyone said about Eric Gordon, who was discussed above.

Beal played like a 19-year old without a care in the world as he led the Wizards into the second round of the playoffs last season. If that carefree attitude can be harnessed into an ultra-competitive performance in training camp, you never know.

Same line of thinking applies to this next guy …

DeRozan-USABDeMar DeRozan: The U.S. federation likes to bring in the best young rising stars even if there is little chance of them surviving the cut process.

And that would seem to be what we have here with DeRozan, who will likely get squeezed. But then again, the guy is an All-Star. And he can play off the dribble a little better than some of his competition.

Again, a guy who will need to knock the coaches’ socks off in order to be on that airplane heading to Grand Canaria.

KlayThompson-USABKlay Thompson: Coach Bobby Gonzalez will be covering training camp for this site, and he is going into Vegas predicting that Thompson will be the guy who gets the last roster spot. I happen to agree with him.

There may be only one spot open for a dead-eye shooter, and the competition is brutal with Kyle Korver and Chandler Parsons also going for that spot.

Both of those other guys are small forwards, and that could be to their ultimate advantage on a team that needs all the size it can get.

At some point – probably the gold medal game – they will have to face a Spanish front line that will include Serge Ibaka and at least one of the Gasol brothers.

 

THE POWER FORWARDS

Faried-USABKenneth Faried: When we first published this piece Saturday, this category was listed in the singular. Faried was the last one standing as camp gets set to open, but USA Basketball reached out to Paul Millsap on Sunday and got a favorable reply. Neither of them would have had a snowball’s chance in hell if Kevin Love and Blake Griffin had not withdrawn.

If the Americans take Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins as their two centers, you know who is next in line to defend opposing 4s? It is Kevin Durant, who is too skinny to mix it up with the burly guys – especially in FIBA, where things are so physical that Greco-Roman wrestling is practically encouraged.

If they leave Garied or Millsap off the 12-man roster, they are asking for trouble. FIBA referees have a way of taking American big men out of games. Just ask Tim Duncan, who was so offended by the officiating at the 2004 Olympics that he vowed to never play a FIBA game again. “FIBA sucks” were his only public comments after the U.S. won the bronze medal game a decade ago and Duncan walked away from international ball forever.

millsap1Paul Millsap: As the last guy invited, they should make him wear No. 19.

But he is not 19th in the pecking order, not with the shortage of natural 4s. He will likely be battling with Faried for a single roster spot, although things can change as camp moves along, injuries happen and minds get changed. Let’s face it, the team does not need three point guards. Two is plenty. And an extra big is a nice luxury to have, especially one who can play inside-outside like Millsap can, plus is burly enough to defend opposing power forwards.

We could very well get to a place where necessity wins out over raw talent. Millsap probably would not have accepted the invitation if he did not truly feel he had a chance to make it all the way to Spain.

THE SMALL FORWARDS

PaulGeorgeUSABPaul George: He should probably be listed up above among the locks, but you never know. There is always a chance that George will lose out in favor of a player who can play multiple positions.

But as good of a defender as he is, he will more likely slide into the role played by Andre Iguodala on the Olympic team two years ago – a small forward who occasionally slides over to power forward when the Americans go especially small.

The only other guy on the roster who can do that is Durant, and we have already discussed how Durant would be a liability at that position defensively.

George would too, but not to the same degree.

Korver-USABKyle Korver: A decade ago, the Americans went into the Athens Olympics without any shooters and lost three times, unable to shoot over the zone defenses that every opponent threw at them. Ten years later, we have come full circle.

The Americans might actually have too many shooters – and that should make for a very tight competition that will include Korver, who shot .475 from downtown last season and is at .438 for his career. With the FIBA 3-point line a couple feet shorter than the NBA 3-point line, long-range shots will be like layups for this guy, Curry and Thompson.

Parsons-USABChandler Parsons: It will be nice for him and James Harden to reunite, now that Harden has dissed him by insinuating that Parsons could not be the third superstar alongside himself and Dwight Howard in Houston. Hey, maybe they can even get into a fistfight.

That will be one way to get the general public interested in this team. Having covered Team USA at the World Championships in 2002, 2006 and 2010, I can tell you that the average American sports fan will not take notice of this team unless they lose. For some reason, Americans don’t really care for the World Championship, or the World Cup as it is now known. We are so programmed to treat the Olympics as the be-all and end-all, we dismiss this as a second-rate tournament.

The rest of the world has historically seen it as more prestigious than the Olympics, which is limited to a 12-team field that excludes good teams purely for geographical reasons. Parsons is a bubble guy.

GordonHayward-USABGordon Hayward: Even if they don’t make the 12-man final roster, Hayward and Parsons will be able to hold their own in the team’s card games (Bourre is usually preferred) with the money from their new max contracts.

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but there appears to be a “three white guys battle” for one spot.

Can’t see both Hayward and Parsons surviving the cuts, no matter what their contracts say they are worth. But both will get themselves in the mix for the team that will compete in Brazil two years from now in the 2016 Olympics, and it really would be better to go to Brazil than Spain. The South American beach factor outweighs the European beach factor.

THE CENTERS

Cousins-USABDeMarcus Cousins: If he is ever going to start showing some maturity, this is a good place to start. U.S. federation officials are especially vigilant about sparing the country any ugly American stories, and they don’t need the equivalent of TMZ-Espana having a field day with this guy. On the court, he is going to have to be on his best behavior, too.

Not only do the referees target mentally challenged American bigs, so do opponents. Drummond-USABIt would not be surprising for some team to have a designated thug go after Cousins early in a game just to get the two of them ejected, thereby exacerbating the Americans’ height deficiencies. So I am confident saying he will be on the roster, and it will be interesting to see if he gets as much (or more) playing time as Davis, who is more of a known commodity to Coach K.

Andre Drummond

He will be cut. Count on it. If you cannot shoot free throws, you cannot play FIBA basketball. Drummond is one of the worst free-throw shooters in the NBA, having shot .371 and .418 in his first two NBA seasons after being at 29 percent when he was at UConn. Only an injury to Davis or Cousins keeps him in the mix.

THE ROSTER: Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Kenneth Faried/Paul Millsap, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, Chandler Parsons.

Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. He has covered every version of Team USA’s senior team since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Follow him on Twitter.

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Kevin Love Withdraws from Team USA http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/kevin-love-withdraws-from-team-usa/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/kevin-love-withdraws-from-team-usa/#respond Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:19:32 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78569

20140101_Kevin_Love_(cropped)Kevin Love has withdrawn from Team USA because of his “current status.”

That was the explanation given Saturday morning in a news release from USA Basketball announcing that Love will not play for the United States at the World Cup in Spain.

Love’s withdrawal exacerbates the one roster issue the American team was already facing: A lack of depth at power forward following the withdrawal of Blake Griffin.

Love was a lock to be the starting power forward.

USA Basketball National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo today announced that Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) has informed USA Basketball that because of his current status he will be unavailable to participate with the USA National Team this summer,” read the official news release.

The Americans will now have 18 players in training camp. There are three centers – Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond – and power forward Kenneth Faried.

Small forwards include Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Gordon Hayward. There are five point guards – Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, John Wall and Kyrie Irving – and four shooting guards: James Harden, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson and DeMar DeRozan.

“The fact is we can only look to the players we have available. Our job is to get the job done with our very, very deep roster, and we’re anxious to get things started,” Colangelo said.

Love has been the subject of rampant trade rumors, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors among the teams trying to acquire him. Love has an opt-out in his contract following the upcoming season and has made it known to the Minnesota Timberwolves that he wants to be traded.

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Tweet of the Night: Paul George Answers Fans http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/tweet-of-the-night-paul-george-answers-fans/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/tweet-of-the-night-paul-george-answers-fans/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 07:30:53 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78559

Paul george

Everyone on the internet loves A.M.A.s (“Ask Me Anything” question-and-answer sessions). Who doesn’t want to get to know more about their favorite celebrities?

Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Paul George took to Twitter to engage his fans Friday night. He opted to take 10 questions, most of which help to paint the picture of what he likes. From his favorite NBA players while growing up to his current celebrity crush, the subjects were pretty broad.

The first few questions are subjects of personal preference.

The next question ties into a dialogue that he had with Houston Rockets guard James Harden earlier in the day on Twitter. A fan had asked Harden if he played FIFA (the popular soccer video game by EA Sports) to which he replied, “Yes I play everyday!!!” George, being yet another fan of the game, called him on it by setting a wager.

Harden accepted the friendly — albeit pricey — wager, announcing that he was due to arrive in George’s neck of the woods — if you didn’t know already, he’s from California.

The fan, curious how those events panned out, asked for the results.

It seems there’s no love lost between George and Jim O’Brien, who was the Pacers head coach prior to Frank Vogel (O’Brien’s assistant).

During George’s rookie season, O’Brien earned himself a trip to the employment line for refusing to play the team’s young talent, which also included second-year forward Tyler Hansbrough and another rookie in Lance Stephenson. O’Brien was woefully inconsistent with his player rotations and had earned the ire of Pacers president Larry Bird for having publicly berated center Roy Hibbert.

Under, then, interim head coach Vogel, the team improved its play, making the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs as the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference, where they fell at the hands of Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.

George closed out his Twitter A.M.A. with his celebrity crush before suggesting that he may take on another 10 questions Saturday.

George must truly love soccer. Aside from his passionate enthusiasm for the FIFA video game, his celebrity crush—supermodel Sofia Vergara aside—is Olympic gold medal winning American soccer player Alex Morgan.

If you’re hoping to get to know George a little better, follow him on Twitter and ask him your very own question next time.

 

 

Previous Tweet Posts:

Tweet of the Day: The Eastern Conference Improves

Tweet of the Night: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares clip of Roy Hibbert working on his hook shot

_______

Michael Brumagin writes the Tweet of the Day for SheridanHoops.com and is also a correspondent for BleacherReport.com.

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SH Blog: Kevin Love Reportedly Requests a Trade to Cleveland http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/sh-blog-kevin-love-reportedly-requests-a-trade-to-cleveland/ http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/07/26/sh-blog-kevin-love-reportedly-requests-a-trade-to-cleveland/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:32:50 +0000 http://www.sheridanhoops.com/?p=78552

KevinLoveSH1Seriously. Just trade Kevin Love and let this saga end already.

The never-ending trade reports continued to flow in on Friday, July 25. The Minnesota Timberwolves power forward remains a player who’s on the trading block, but seemingly untouchable for an organization that would likely lose him for nothing in 2015 if he remains in Minnesota.

According to Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio, Love has made it clear where he wants to be traded to.

Multiple league sources told FOX Sports Ohio on Friday they are under the impression Love has relayed his desire for a trade to Cleveland to his agent. Love is represented by Jeff Schwartz.

Sources could not say for certain whether Love or Schwartz have made a formal trade request to the Timberwolves. Most believe if such a request is made, the Cavs will be able to obtain Love at a considerably cheaper cost than what is being discussed by the teams.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving aren’t bad teammates to have.

The hurdle in all of this is that Cleveland signed No. 1 overall draft choice Andrew Wiggins to his rookie contract on July 24. Thus, the Cavaliers cannot trade the former Kansas Jayhawks at any time during the 30-day period which follows his date of signing.

That’s either another month of rumors or a sign that the Cavs are bowing out.

From a basketball perspective, Cleveland seems to be the most ideal location for Love to end up. Irving is already a two-time All-Star at 22, while James is widely considered the best player in the world.

As for the system, head coach David Blatt runs an adaptation of the Princeton Offense that would fit Love well. He can make the backdoor passes or space the floor for the motion 3-ball that has made him such a dangerous threat.

Without Wiggins, however, Minnesota has no reason to execute a trade with Cleveland. Oh, the offseason.

 

Byron Scott to Coach the Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers have always done things to the beat of their own drum. The Lakers continued that trend by going nearly three months without a head coach.

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Lakers have offered their vacant coaching job to Byron Scott.

Way to test a fanbase’s patience.

The Lakers have always been an unconventional organization. There’s no pattern to follow in Los Angeles, but instead an ever-changing blueprint that has helped the organization win 16 championships.

A man responsible for three of those is expected to become the next head coach.

Scott played for the Lakers from 1983 to 1993. He was a critical contributor to a “Showtime” squad that won three NBA championships in 1985, ’87 and ’88, respectively.

Scott also played for the Lakers during the 1995-96 season, mentoring an 18-year-old rookie named Kobe Bryant.

The same Kobe Bryant who, nearly 20 years later, is still the face of the franchise.

The fact that Scott has ties to the Lakers organization and a relationship with Bryant plays a factor here. He’s respected throughout Los Angeles, but the imperative trust from Bryant and the front office is what matters most.

The question is, is Scott the right coach for the job?

Scott wasted little time before he earned fame and adoration as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets. After a horrid 26-56 debut campaign in 2000-01, he led New Jersey to a 52-30 record and the franchise’s first ever NBA Finals appearance in 2001-02.

In 2002-03, the Nets again made it to the NBA Finals. They fell short of winning the championship in both seasons.

Since those two magical runs, he’s spent 10 seasons on the sidelines with two ending in early terminations. In that span, he’s achieved just three winning records.

In his most recent stint, Scott led the post-James Cleveland Cavaliers to just 64 wins in three full seasons. That won’t be enough to keep Laker Nation happy. Not even close.

Scott has the name value and the history that the organization is looking for. His coaching resume, however, is a display of imbalanced success.

Scott clearly knows how to get the most out of elite talent, as the two Finals appearances prove. The concerning reality is, he’s been a coach with a losing record more than he’s been a coach with a winning record.

For all of the uncertainty, the Lakers have finally made a move to hire a head coach. It couldn’t have gone to a better candidate than Scott.

 

Around The League

  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports provided information on the future of the NBPA and its vacant Executive Director position. “Sources had told Yahoo Sports in past 48 hours that [there] are four finalists in process for [the new] NBPA executive director.” Those candidates include Washington D.C. attorney Michele Roberts, ITI CEO Dean Garfield and Dallas Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery.
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports also reports that Kevin Johnson is no longer involved in the selection process. “In email, Kevin Johnson has informed agents he’s no longer part of the search process for a new NBPA executive director, Yahoo has learned.” Johnson is the mayor of Sacramento and one of the most prolific point guards in NBA history.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN reports that Omri Casspi will return to the Sacramento Kings on a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum. “ESPN sources say Omri Casspi is finalizing a one-year contract at league min. with Sacramento tonight after clearing waivers earlier Friday.” Casspi, 26, played for the Kings from 2009 to 2011.
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