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 Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.