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


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.

Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.