A few thoughts from a meaningless Team USA scrimmage

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I’m not sure how much you want to read into 24 minutes of basketball played on a colorful court on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. Basically, you don’t — the scrimmages in practice where Mike Krzyzewski got to tinker with the lineups meant a lot more than this.

Still, here are few thoughts heading into some “friendlies” over the weekend. Break out the bullet points:

* This was not really pretty basketball, in large part because guys had to adjust to shooting on a court on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. Stephen Curry adjusted – he knocked down four threes in the second half. Eric Gordon has played well but he likely will be one of the three cuts because Team USA needs Curry’s shooting.

* Tyson Chandler is looking good, more like his old Hornet self, and that includes a great block on Rudy Gay early in the game. The USA needs someone to protect the rim and Chandler is that guy.

* Plus Chandler had the golden basket, the game-winner in sudden death overtime.

* Both teams fell in love with the jumper and really struggled with it. Part of that is the setting, but this is a smaller Team USA and with the closer-than-the-NBA three-point line it becomes very tempting for these guys. They still need balance, they still need points in the paint, even if that comes of penetration and not post ups. Live by the jumper, die by the jumper.

* Tyson Chandler looked good, JaVale McGee did not. He struggled to find his way and his shot selection was, um, questionable. Despite Team USA’s lack of size he may be on the chopping block.

* Kevin Love is going to get some of those minutes at the five. And he will do well with them.

* Andre Iguodala was the game MVP and seemed to play well off Kevin Durant. Playing well off Durant will get you minutes on this team.

* For those at Radio City Music Hall, there was Q&A’s during the time outs with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire and even Krzyzewski. Nothing serious was asked. And Nike did not ask LeBron James to answer questions in front of a New York crowd. Probably wise.

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.

 

Jaylen Brown’s #drivebydunkchallenge video is awesome

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I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.

But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.