Gerald Wallace, Tyreke Evans, and O.J. Mayo expected to be victims of first Team USA cuts

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nba_mayo_250.jpgTeam USA is scheduled to announce their first trimmings from the roster in a few hours, but Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse reported that Gerald Wallace, Tyreke Evans, and O.J. Mayo are “expected to be” among those cut from the team this afternoon.

Evans was an obvious cut. After tweaking an ankle early in Team USA training camp, ‘Reke never had a chance to show off his skills or establish on-court chemistry with his new teammates. He was a long-shot to make the roster from the very beginning, but without an opportunity to play himself into consideration, Evans was a goner.

Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski appear to prefer Danny Granger to Gerald Wallace at this point, because according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, Granger will continue to on to New York with the team while Wallace will be sent home. Wallace may have been able to bring a defensive presence that’s lacking elsewhere on the roster, but Granger has the potential to be a rather prolific shooter for the Americans, an invaluable asset in FIBA-style basketball.

Similarly, the Team USA brass had a choice to make between Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo, and they chose the former. Mayo’s the more versatile player overall, but most of what he can offer outside of his position’s usual skill set is already being provided elsewhere. Mayo could definitely run an offense more effectively than Gordon, but with a team already stuffed to the brim with point guards, that doesn’t mean much. So it came down to Mayo and Gordon as shooters and defenders, and while I’d still give the edge to O.J., Krzyzyewski seems to prefer Gordon in that role.

Team USA’s original plan was to cut four or five players from the current pool before moving on to NYC to resume camp, so there could theoretically be one or two more players sent home. However, there’s the possibility that Colangelo and Krzyzyewski will keep 16 in the fold until the final roster is announced, leaving Evans, Wallace, and Mayo as the only initial cuts.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.