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.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.