I’ve never really understood watching scrimmages. I mean, I do it a lot. I’ll watch basketball pretty much at any level. But the players are just so removed from the effort level we find most enjoyable to watch. That level, if you’re wondering, is a Game 7 in the playoffs in the semifinals or higher.
A scrimmage is, by its very definition, practice. It’s simply a final practice round in a game simulation. It’s one thing when it’s a team that is competing for spots on a roster, fighting, dying, working hard every play. It’s a very different thing when it’s an international team scrimmage in a non-Olympic year.
The Team USA scrimmage Saturday night showed us a handful of things that are relevant. Some we knew, some we didn’t.
- Team USA is small. Jeff Green played significant minutes and while he’s unlikely to make the roster, no bigs outside of Tyson Chandler made an impact. Unless JaVale McGee makes a huge jump and makes the roster. But considering his inexperience and resume, that’s hard to argue for. Brook Lopez’s game is dependent on post-scoring, but in the trapezoid, in a guard-heavy set, it’s hard to find that spacing. Team USA is going to have a hard time against the bigger international teams.
- Kevin Durant is great. You know what we needed to see from Durant as we look to him to take the reins of our country’s team in international competition? It’s not dominance. This is a scrimmage. It’s the “man among boys” effect. We needed him to look like he was simply better than the rest in every way, that he didn’t even need to try. Andre Iguodala looked like if he efforted, he could be on the floor with this team. Kevin Durant looked like he could go at 50% and still dominate.
- The guard competition is fierce. O.J. Mayo looked terrific, but his defensive liabilities may keep him off-squad. Chauncey Billups looked marginal, but will probably make the roster based on experience. Derrick Rose looked terrific, somehow faster than he was previously. Rajon Rondo looked sloppy and disinterested. And all of them are worthy of inclusion on the team, along with Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
- Rudy Gay had one of his best games as a professional, which says a lot about Rudy Gay.
- Lamar Odom managed to get lost in a Team USA scrimmage game. Only Lamar.
Cuts will be made, Curry will likely go for shooting, Mayo will likely stay home for size, and Kevin Love is more respected on Team USA than in Minnesota. Strange things afoot as the team prepares for Turkey.
In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.
Casspi also broke his thumb and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.
Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Ryan Kelly and guard Lamar Patterson to multiyear contracts.
Patterson provides depth across the perimeter, including at point guard. He previously signed two 10-day contracts with the team, most recently on Feb. 8. He has averaged 2.3 points in four games.
The 6-foot-11 Kelly has played in nine games with the Hawks after signing Oct. 31.
The Hawks now have their maximum 15 players. They traded forward Mike Scott to the Suns on Thursday, leaving two vacant roster spots.
Kelly and Patterson are expected to be available when the Hawks play Miami on Friday night.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, “America meet Javale “BUM” McGee.”
O’Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would “smack” McGee’s “bum a–.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq “childish” while calling out the retired center’s free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.
Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat late Thursday night, when McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.
For a couple of seasons now, teams have tried to beat the Golden State Warriors by making the game ugly — slow, grinding, physical, and the opposite of the free-wheeling game they like. Only one team has had any real success with that strategy, and it has LeBron James on it (and even that wouldn’t have been enough if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself).
So why not beat them at their own game?
That’s what Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey thought when he added Lou Williams to the roster, he said.
There is a sense around the Warriors that the Rockets may be a bigger concern than the Spurs, because Houston can score with them. Don’t confuse that with worry in the Bay Area, they are the best team in the West if healthy, but the Rockets may be the team they face off against in the conference finals.
And if that happens, Lou Williams is going to play a significant role.