Should the World Championships be moved to July?

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Thumbnail image for fiba-turkey.gifHere we are heading into September, usually the basketball desert time of year, and we have an oasis of the World Championships.

Some entertaining if not spectacular games taking place in Turkey, spiced up with a little bit of a college atmosphere. Pros playing with their nation’s name on the front of their jerseys (and a San Miguel ad, if you’re Spain).

But is September the best time to host this? For NBA players they will finish this tournament then have a couple weeks to wind down a little before training camp. A time the really should be winding up. The timeline is even tighter for professional players from Europe and other parts of the globe.

Coach Ettore Messina of European powerhouse Real Madrid thinks the World Champions should be moved to July. That’s what he told Sports.ru (an interview found by the omnipresent Henry Abbott of TrueHoop):

For instance, players will know that after [a July] tournament they’ll have a large chunk of summer to rest and recover. And national teams’ coaches will focus more on schemes and team play as opposed to spending vast amounts of time on physical preparation. Four weeks will probably be enough for teams to revise plays and get everybody on board from the tactical standpoint, so it’s absolutely possible to hold the tournament in the beginning or in the middle of July. And the remaining part of summer will be resting time for players. NBA guys might even have up to 2 months to recover after long season…

Moreover, if history is any indication, players who participate in international competitions in September are much more likely to suffer injuries over the course of the following season.

That’s why I think it’ll be much safer to go back to the old schedule and allow clubs which invest a lot of money into players to arrange full-scale preparations with necessary amount of teaching and sufficient number of scrimmages before the start of the official season.

With the NBA Finals extending into the middle of June, a player like Lamar Odom this season would have gone almost straight from the Lakers to Team USA with no down time. But, when it was over he’d have a couple months. It is fair to say this will be a common problem — most of the USA’s top players will have been in, likely deep in, the playoffs.

Is it better to have that break at the start or end of summer? What will encourage the largest participation from players around the globe? I don’t know, but it’s a question worth asking.

Report: Rockets will leave Donatas Motiejunas’ offer sheet open

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets and Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Brooklyn Nets fight for the loose ball at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.The Houston Rockets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 113-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Donatas Motiejunas’ agent, B.J. Armstrong, said he knows their rights.

Apparently, so does Houston.

Motiejunas has refused to take a physical with the Rockets since they matched his offer sheet from the Nets. So, Houston will hold him on that offer sheet indefinitely.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Motiejunas can’t sign an offer sheet with another NBA team. He probably can’t even join an overseas team in a FIBA-accredited league, because his NBA holdout will prevent him from getting clearance.

All he can do is submit to a physical or negotiate a new deal with the Rockets.

Motiejunas could undergo a physical anytime between now and March 1. If he passes, he’d join Houston on the terms of his matched offer sheet. If he fails, he’d go to Brooklyn on the original offer-sheet terms (which are $6 million apart).

Motiejunas could also negotiate a new deal with the Rockets. They have immense leverage with his matched offer sheet in place, but perhaps a compromise could be forged. Motiejunas obviously wants a chance at that $6 million, but he’ll have to concede something in exchange. Maybe that’s a later guarantee date on his 2017-18 salary. If both sides agree to a different contract, Houston would withdraw its match, which would make Motiejunas a restricted free agent. Then, the Rockets could re-sign him.

They sure aren’t letting him out of this limbo just to seek a better offer sheet from another team. A new contract must already be agreed upon.

In the meantime, Motiejunas will continue to count toward the Nets’ team salary while the offer sheet is open, which is a nuisance but not hugely disruptive. They have plenty of cap space anyway, and the odds of adding significant salary in a trade are low.

Houston will continue to play without Motiejunas. That’s also not ideal for the Rockets, but they’ve been fine without him so far.

The qualifying offer will expire on March 2, when Motiejunas will no longer be eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team. He’d still be allowed to re-sign with Houston, though. Failing that, he’ll re-enter free agency next summer, when the Rockets could again make him restricted, and we’ll start the process all over again – with the caveat that the Nets can’t sign him for one year after his offer sheet expires.

Maybe something will break before it gets to that point, but Houston and Motiejunas have trudged deeper into this standoff than ever imaginable.

Stephen Curry skips pass between DeAndre Jordan’s legs, gets Zaza Pachulia a layup (video)

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Nicolas Batum wasn’t the only player to bounce a pass through an opponent’s legs last night.

Stephen Curry nutmegged DeAndre Jordan on this sweet assist to Zaza Pachulia.

Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell take turns dunking on Julius Randle (videos)

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Head Coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Julius Randle #30 during the second half of a 107-101 Jazz win at Staples Center on December 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Rough night for the Lakers, who lost 134-95 to the Rockets.

It was particularly harsh for Julius Randle, who got dunked on by Clint Capela:

And then Montrezl Harrell:

Giannis Antetokounmpo called for 10-second violation on free throw (video)

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This Giannis Antetokounmpo 10-second violation was a year in the making.

Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, it was too little, too late. Antetokounmpo still finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks and two steals in the Bucks’ 115-107 win.