Coach K on Olympic team: “I know LeBron will play”

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Mike Krzyzewski has some tough decisions to make about the upcoming Team USA squad for the London Olympics — do you bring in a second true center behind Tyson Chandler or do you go “small” with Kevin Love in that role?

But there are some easy decisions, too.

“I know LeBron will play,” Krzyzewski told the Associated Press.

So Coach K isn’t going to cut to LeBron James, the best player on the planet. That’s some smart coaching.

Krzyzewski actually praised LeBron and his growth.

“I’m proud of LeBron and where he’s at right now, and I do think that when you’re that great a player, that great a talent, that you learn openly,” Krzyzewski added. “You don’t go learn in private. You’re out there while you’re learning, and while you’re learning, you’re going to be criticized for the things that you’re in the process of learning. … There’s some things you cannot learn unless you’re in that moment. Like, you can’t rehearse it.

“You can’t feel it until you’re in the moment of a finals, a gold medal game, a seventh game, a national championship. He’s been in two of those moments, and I think he’s shown in this series that he’s learned from those moments.”

While LeBron almost certainly plays, it would be a surprise if Dwyane Wade does. He is clearly bothered by his left knee and with a very short turnaround until the opening of USA Basketball Camp (July 6 in Las Vegas) he’s not going to have time to get it right.

As for the rest of the team, you can bet Kevin Durant will turn around from the finals and be there, as likely will Chris Bosh and maybe James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Coach K isn’t setting anything in stone.

“We don’t even know who the guys on the team are yet because we have to wait until we get them in Vegas to see where they are physically, family and contractually. Those three things, that I’ve learned over the last seven years, can cause a change just like that,” he added, snapping his fingers. “And then you have to be prepared for it.”

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: