Calipari says Charlie Villanueva too fat for Dominican national team

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And so the decline of Charlie Villanueva continues…

The Dominican Republic has a chance to make the London Olympics this summer, they are in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament for teams that just missed out qualifying last year. Get a top 3 finish and they can pack their bags for London.

John Calipari — last seen coaching Kentucky to a national title — coaches the Dominican team. And he made his first big move of the summer recently:

He cut Charlie Villanueva. For being fat. From the Detroit News (hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie):

“Charlie was not in good form when we saw him,” Calipari told Deportes en la Z. “He was overweight, and unfortunately, we could not slow down the entire team and it was a decision taken collectively. Last year, Charlie behaved really well with us and his only problem was his weight.”

Villanueva denied this, tweeting a photo of himself at 243 pounds (about 10 pounds below his playing weight last season). However, Calipari and company had issues with Villanueva’s conditioning last summer, then he played just 13 games for the Pistons last season due to ankle and other injuries. That said, the Pistons praised his efforts to get back in the lineup and his work in rehab.

What’s the deal here? As Eric Freeman noted at BDL, Villanueva’s game just doesn’t really fit Calipari’s uptempo, dribble penetration offense. But to cut an NBA player you need a better excuse, so let’s go with weight.

The Dominican roster still has some serious talent on it. Like the Hawks Al Horford, who needs to have a monster summer if they are going to London.

By the way, don’t think Calipari took the Dominican job to set up future recruiting pipelines. That’s not it at all. He just loves teaching the game. Why would you think he’d have another motive? You are so cynical.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

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?