You think of Luol Deng as talented but not living up to his potential.
For the English national team, he is a savior.
And Deng has been cleared to play for England this summer, according to Britball. That drive starts Tuesday in a game against Hungary. He is hoping to help them qualify for the European Championships next summer, a run up to the 2012 Olympics in London (where England gets a spot as host nation).
“I’m glad Luol’s back,” said (team captain Drew) Sullivan. “Last summer he was around the team as much as he could and you could see how upset he was that he couldn’t play at the Eurobasket finals, which is something we’d spent two years working towards. He was devastated that he’d helped us qualify and then, unfortunately, got hurt with the Bulls and didn’t recover in time. From our perspective, we need him. We’re a much better team with him.”
He was a little late joining the team, due to Amare-like insurance issues. But he is there now.
Who else is on that England roster? Pops Mensah-Bonsu for one. Former Vanderbilt player Andrew Sullivan, and Dan Clark who plays in Europe. And from there it gets more obscure.
Deng makes that team far, far more formidable. But maybe still not good enough for the European Championships.
The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.
Now, we know when.
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.
DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.
So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.
Cousins, via TMZ:
“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”
These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.
Not whom I want to honor, either.
Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.
So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.
Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:
“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”
“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”
Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.
But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.
The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.
Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.
He’s keeping the checks coming.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.
I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).
The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.
Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.