However you build it, U.S. Olympic team will be very good

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We don’t know exactly what the U.S. Olympic team will look like in London. We know the pool of players — the 20 finalists — the roster will come from. And we know a couple other things:

Mike Krzyzewski and staff have some hard choices ahead of them.

This team will be very, very good.

The pool of finalists is loaded with guys who could help the United States win gold in London. Every last one of them. There is a reason the USA will be the prohibitive pre-games favorite to win it all. Here is what Coach K told reporters on Monday, via Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

“This will be the most talented of the three teams that I’ve had the opportunity to coach,” Krzyzewski said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “They’re all older. They’re better. A number of them are at the prime times of their careers. I like the balance … we eventually could have with youth, guys in their prime.”

It will be hard to get it down to 12. Here is my guess right now (obviously injuries and play the rest of the season will alter what all of us, including Coach K, are thinking):

Guards: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant (Cut: Erick Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Chauncey Billups). I would love to have Gordon’s shooting but I can’t put him over Kobe or Wade at the two. Same at the point where Westbrook is good but not better than the other three.

Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love. (Cut Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge.) Carmelo’s game has always been a great fit with the international style of play, LeBron and Durant are the two best scorers on the planet. I keep Bosh and Love over guys like Griffin and Aldridge because they have more range and consistency on their outside shot, and bigs who can step out like that matter a lot in international ball.

Centers: Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler. As I and others have said, I want Chandler mostly go have some real size inside if and when the USA meets Spain for the gold medal, as most expect. Spain has size (Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka) that the USA has to match. If you want to just go with Howard you can bring back a forward like Griffin or Aldridge, or add a guard to the roster.

Either way they have the talent to win the gold. This team should rival any the USA has put together in terms of pure talent.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.