Pau Gasol to skip the World Championships


Though there are a number of competitive teams partaking in this summer’s FIBA World Championships, Spain was understandably considered the best possible candidate to upset the Americans. Those chances have dwindled significantly with Pau Gasol’s announcement that he will miss this summer’s tournament in order to rest for next season. From Janis Carr of the O.C. Register:

Gasol said on his website that he will not help Spain defend its
title because doctors say he needs a rest and “present circumstances
advise against my participation” in the championship that will be held
in Turkey from Aug. 29-Sept. 12.

“This year I have suffered two major muscle injuries, the first in
my career, and I firmly believe it is time to rest,” Gasol said on his
site. “I think the best is to choose an appropriate time to rest first
than your body decides for you at the most inopportune time.”

The Americans are having some personnel issues, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and now Dwight Howard wavering in their commitment to the program for a variety of reasons. It’s clear that the glitz, glam, exposure, and marketing opportunities of the Olympic Games mean far more to these stars than a comparatively low-profile event like the World Championships. That could open the door for even a Pau-less Spain team to give Team USA some trouble, but a lot of that depends on which other American stars participate.

Regardless, this is a huge blow for Spain. Whereas they were previously seen as a lock for the final round, they’ll now run a gauntlet of teams that could pose a significant threat. Marc Gasol can still give them the force they need in the middle, but Pau’s just on a different level than Marc, talent-wise.

Team USA may be able to compensate for the loss of a LeBron James or a Dwyane Wade with some the incredible depth in the program, but most national teams (Spain included) don’t have that luxury. Marc’s presence will help, but even he isn’t good enough to lock in Spain as the second best team in the tournament. They could get there and probably will, but things just got much more difficult for the Spanish national team.

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.

Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run

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Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.

And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.

Three thoughts here.

1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.

2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.

3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.