Who will be on Team USA for 2012 London Olympics?


Mike Krzyzewski — head coach of Team USA — has some brutal choices ahead of him next summer.

Team USA is in the 2012 London Olympics and will come in the heavy favorite, but there are some other very good teams out there that could push the USA — Spain and Argentina come to mind, veteran squads with plenty of NBA-level talent.

So who will make up the 12 man USA roster for London?

First, there are the guys who won gold in 2008 and should be given spots now: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. (I know a bunch of you just shook your head at Bosh, but there are few bigs as skilled as him and his more finesse game works well in international ball).

That’s eight of the 12 spots.

Kevin Durant, after leading Team USA to the gold at the FIBA World Championships gets a spot for sure. So just three seats left.

Chris Sheridan (former AP and ESPN writer) makes an interesting point at his site.

You can also set aside a spot for Blake Griffin, who has been described to SheridanHoops.com by people in the know as a shoo-in for the London 2012 roster.

That’s 10 of the 12. And for you counting at home, there are two point guards, two shooting guards, three small forwards, two power forwards and one center on the list (although it is more flexible than that, someone like LeBron or Durant can play the two, three or four spot depending on the lineup, and LeBron and ‘Melo were often used at the four in 2008).

Sheridan makes another good point — the USA needs to bring a bigger team to London than they did Beijing. The reason is Spain, the USA’s most serious competition for the gold, which has gotten bigger and better since 2008. Spain still has Pau Gasol, but his brother Marc had not even played in the NBA in 2008 but now is both improved and makes a fantastic high-low combination with his brother. Spain also now brings Serge Ibaka off the bench for help and they may have recent Rockets draft pick s Nikola Mirotic, who is 6’10”. They have size.

Sheridan says based on their play at the World Championships, Lamar Odom and Kevin Love have to be the candidates for another big spot. Love brings rebounding, outlet passes and can stretch the floor with his shooting, but his defense has been an issue. Odom can do just about anything, his game is very versatile.

So you pick one of them. That’s 11.

Now for the 12th spot do you go with another big — maybe Tyson Chandler, but Amar’e Stoudemire and LaMarcus Aldridge are considerations — or do you go with speed and Derrick Rose? It’s hard to leave Rose off the team, but do you put him on in place of Deron Williams to so you can go with size or do you bring three quality point guards and try to run teams into the ground? If you are going to go with speed, Russell Westbrook has to be considered as well.

There are no easy choices for Mike Krzyzewski next summer. There is plenty of talent to choose from, but what really matters is fit. That has to be the key.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.


Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

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The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.

Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez

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When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.

Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.

What gives? Hornet’s coach Steve Clifford didn’t hold back when answering that question to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…

“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…

“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”

Well then.

Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.

Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.

Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane

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Best. Denial. Ever.

Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.

Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.

I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.

But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.