Team USA cut to 15, no surprises


Thumbnail image for USA_Logo.jpgIt went down pretty much exactly as Rob Mahoney told you earlier today.

Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, JaVale McGee and O.J. Mayo have been let go, bringing the roster down to 15. Three more guys will be let go after camp in New York and before the team heads to Turkey for the FIBA World Championships next month.

JaVale McGee was the only name we weren’t sure about, and this still is not a real surprise. Team USA is a little thin at center — Brook Lopez is the best player but is still slowed by the effects of Mono. Tyson Chandler has looked solid, but it was thought McGee (a late addition to camp when Robin Lopez pulled out) might be kept on as insurance. He had looked good. But Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to keep five point guards on the roster, including Rajon Rondo (who was rumored to be on the bubble).

Evans sprained is ankle early on and really never got a chance to compete at a very deep position for the squad. Wallace basically got beat out by Danny Granger, while Mayo likely lost his spot to Eric Gordon. Mayo may be the bigger NBA name, but Gordon’s game blends well with the international rules, plus the makeup of this team.

So this is your final 15: Rondo, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Gordon, Granger, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green, Andre Iguodala, Lopez, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, and Chandler.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.