Rajon Rondo is unphased by the Team USA mystique

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Rajon Rondo has never seemed all that interested in playing for Team USA. He kind of brushed off the initial invite to participate in this summer’s tryout (He apparently couldn’t be bothered to get back to Team USA czar Jerry Colangelo), and though he was officially added to the national team’s roster last week, he doesn’t seem particularly psyched about the opportunity to rep his country alongside Kevin Durant and Amar’e Stoudemire.

From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:

[Rondo] was downright indecisive Sunday when it came to his possible participation with the USA Basketball National Team that begins practicing Monday in Las Vegas. “I might not know until later tonight,” Rondo told FanHouse late Sunday afternoon. “I don’t have a plane ticket yet, but I might still get one.”

…”I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” he said, then ended the interview by answering his cell phone. He left the locker room before returning to the topic of USA Basketball. Clearly, he was having doubts about going to Las Vegas for the start of practice, which would put his participation for the rest of the summer in jeopardy.

Rondo was a bit of an odd fit to begin with (point guards without a consistent shooting stroke tend to fair poorly in international competition), but his callous disregard for the Team USA program represents exactly what Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski have been actively trying to avoid. Consistency and professionalism were declared paramount for the new-school national team, and with Rondo not only disinterested but a bit disrespectful to Colangelo, the program, and his potential teammates, Team USA would be wise to invest more in Rajon’s talented and more interested contemporaries.

For the record: There’s nothing wrong with Rondo’s disregard for the program. If he doesn’t want to play, he shouldn’t. But there are better ways to relay that message to the Team USA brass than his current course of action.

Even if Rondo would have been the best PG available with Chris Paul and Deron Williams sitting out this summer, there are still some pretty decent alternatives. Chauncey Billups is the favorite to grab the starting job for the FIBA World Championships, but Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tyreke Evans, and Steph Curry will all receive consideration at the Vegas mini-camp.

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.