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D-Leaguers to make up Team USA at Pan Am Games

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UPDATE 5:19 pm: Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie pointed out something about this move that I had not considered: This D-League move is a dress rehearsal for the Olympics in 2012.

If the lockout cancels the entire 2011-12 NBA season (and that is not out of the question) then there would still be a lockout when the next Olympics open in London one year from today (July 27). While in theory players could play in the Olympics during a lockout, the NBA and Team USA stand next to each other wrapped in a Nike flag — it’s a David Stern production. Players likely would not break ranks to go. Which means no Dream Team (on the 20th anniversary of the original Dream Team). So, better to test out the D-League system before  next summer.

If you think I’m kidding, the last lockout fell during a World Championships and we sent only undrafted rookies and college kids in 1998. And no, we didn’t get the gold.

 3:34 pm: I’ll be up front, I like this move a lot.

The NBA’s big names are locked out and don’t really plan in the Pan American Games anyway, so Team USA is usually a collection of college players.

But this time around it is going to be a D-League team, including coach and players, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts will be coaching the squad, with a roster to be selected through invited tryouts in early October (at a location yet to be named).

“We’re excited about the opportunity for players and coaches from the NBA Development League to represent their country on an international stage,” said NBA D-League President Dan Reed. “This is another testament to the world-class basketball talent we’re attracting and promoting to the NBA, and we’re very pleased to partner with USA Basketball to go for the gold!”

Two players from the Pan Am team will be part of the USA Select team, the scrimmage partner next summer for Team USA as they get ready for the 2012 London Olympics.

This is a great move for exposure and opportunities for the D-League, and it gets to expose some guys to international competition. The guys selected will want to be there. And it should be a pretty good team.

The Pan Am Games (which take place every four years and are sort of a Western Hemisphere tune up for the Olympics for some sports) will take place in late October in Guadalajara, Mexico. Where people will still care far more about Chivas.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.