Andrew Bynum skipping Olympics… so who is in for USA?

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When Dwight Howard went under the knife and sacrificed his summer, the speculation began — who gets his spot on Team USA for the London Olympics this summer?

It pretty much guaranteed that Knicks big man Tyson Chandler is in now. He was on the bubble before, but now he is a must as the United States needs his size and ability to protect the rim. But with a likely gold medal showdown with a big Spanish team — Pau and Marc Gasol plus Serge Ibaka — there was talk of the Team USA getting more size.

Specifically, the Lakers Andrew Bynum. But he told the Los Angeles Times that London is not in his plans, rather the Kobe Bryant knee procedure is.

“I’ve got to take care of my legs in the off-season,” Bynum said Friday. “I’ve got some things planned for my knees…. I’ve got to do some therapy that I’m going overseas to do.”

So now what? Howard is out, LaMarcus Aldridge is likely out due to hip surgery, so who is in on the 12-man roster? Here is my call

Guards: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant. I would add Russell Westbrook here, but that comes at the expense of adding another big.

Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love. Bosh and Love are locks and they can play the five in international ball, where smaller centers who can knock down the outside shot are common. If you do that, you play a lot of Carmelo and LeBron at the four, which again works internationally. The guy on the bubble here is Blake Griffin, who is a freak of nature but with his inconsistent midrange game and 52 percent free throw shooting may not be a fit.

Center: Tyson Chandler. That’s it. Love and Bosh behind him. That’s a risk if Chandler gets in foul trouble. If you want to think about another long defensive stopper, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis could be a guy to look at, but frankly I’d rather add Westbrook as a combo guard and go small more often. The problem there is simply Spain — could the USA lose the Gold because they got pounded in the paint?

To me, if you can’t have Howard or Bynum the quality of big men drops off enough that I’d rather have the guard and just run teams into the ground with our athletes.

But Howard will be missed. Maybe a lot.

Stephen Curry back in full practice mode for Warriors

AP
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night against New Orleans.

Curry looked strong as he practiced Thursday wearing a protective brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since the injury March 23 – the same day he returned from a six-game absence because of a hurt right ankle.

Coach Steve Kerr is calling Curry questionable for Saturday. That could change if the two-time NBA MVP still feels fine Friday and is fine after one more day of full practice before the Pelicans visit Oracle Arena to begin the best-of-seven series.

“Steph practiced at 100 percent, he did everything, he looked good,” Kerr said. “What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day, put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together two good days but it was very positive today. … I think it’s been coming along pretty well. When we were in San Antonio and I was asked a question about how he was doing, I think I was able to give an answer, `He’s doing great but we haven’t ramped him up yet.’ I think today was an important day because it’s the first time he’s actually gone live action and he was allowed to go through practice. And he appears fine.”

Curry went through his usual shooting work with Kevin Durant from various spots after practice, cutting and exhibiting his fancy footwork and dribbling skills. The Warriors have played well without their floor leader, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the first-round series with a 99-91 win Tuesday night.

The Pelicans will present a different, faster pace for the Warriors, so getting Curry back to push the ball and direct the offense would be important. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, started in the first round in his place while Quinn Cook handled point guard duties late in the regular season with Curry out.

“We’re excited. I know he’s very eager to play,” said Klay Thompson. “He’s a competitor, so sitting out I know kills him. We can’t wait for him to get back whenever that is.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

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Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.