Report: USA to add players to candidate pool for Olympics

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Following a rash of injuries — and whatever happened to Lamar Odom — the original pool of 20 players USA Basketball was going to choose from to form its Olympic team this summer is down to 15.

The waters are getting a little shallow with injuries to Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, LaMarcus Aldridge and Dwight Howard, so USA Basketball may add a few players to the pool, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

In the wake of an injury crisis, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that he’s likely to add “one or two players” to the list of finalists for Team USA’s Olympic roster.

So, who are we talking about? Mostly big men to go along side soon to be Defensive player of the Year Tyson Chandler.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Sacramento Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins, Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe and incoming Kentucky star Anthony Davis — widely regarded as a lock to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft — are among the young big men under consideration to be among the late additions Colangelo mentioned.

The most natural replacement for Howard is Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, but Bynum stated publicly in April that he intends to take the summer off to get some rest and treatment for his knees. Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert would be another natural contender, especially after his stint on the USA’s Pan-American team in 2007, but Hibbert elected to join Jamaica’s senior national team for the 2010 Centrobasket tournament and FIBA rules preclude players from representing two different countries at the senior level.

In international ball Team USA really can go small a lot, playing someone like Kevin Love at the five and sliding LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony down to the four. It works well. At least until the likely gold-medal game matchup with Spain, which starts Marc and Pau Gasol and brings Serge Ibaka off the bench. Then the USA will need more traditional bigs.

It seems unlikely that Cousins or Monroe would make the team, but clearly the size issue is a concern to USA Basketball. They will miss Rose as well at the point but still have Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook on the roster.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.