Three spots remain on Team USA. Who should get them?

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We know who already had their tickets punched for London. Nine spots on the Team USA Olympic hoops roster have been secured and you can’t really argue with any of them: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler.

That means three spots are left with six players still on the roster: Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Anthony Davis.

“You could build a case for each of the contenders if you will, depending on what you want,” USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo told the AP. “It’s like a menu: Another shooter, it’s Eric Gordon. You want a scoring guard, it’s Harden. You want a defensive specialist, it’s Iguodala. You want another guy with length who can shoot the ball and run the court, it’s Rudy Gay.”

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Colangelo said they wanted to spend a couple days looking at guys in practice before they make their decisions, which get announced Saturday night. That’s the prudent thing to do.

We’re not so prudent. Here is who we think should make the team.

First note: Anthony Davis sat out the first day of USA camp Friday with a sprained ankle. He was a reach to make this team anyway, so we’re taking him out of the mix. He’ll get his shot in four years (we hope).

WHO SHOULD BE IN:

Blake Griffin. The United States is going to play a little bit small in the Olympics — lots of Kevin Love at center, LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony at the four. But with all the injuries to this team — Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh are all out — the USA needs some size. Griffin will be that. And in the first game he will some poor French guy the new Frederic Weiss. Clippers fans should be happy, for a guy who wants to win and has the work ethic of Griffin being around this caliber of players will grow him.

Eric Gordon. In international competitions where most of the opponents the USA faces can’t come close to matching up with them athletically, the USA will see a lot of zone played against them. There are a few ways to beat a zone, the best being drives or cuts into the heart of the paint, but the other is to shoot over the top. That’s what Gordon can do, a career 37 percent shooter from three who did this for Team USA in Turkey two years ago. He can spell Kobe at the two and stretch the floor. I leave James Harden off, but it’s close.

Andre Iguodala. The other decision is really Rudy Gay or Iguodala, and I lean Iggy for the reasons Jerry Colangelo mentions above — scoring will not be a problem for this team so I’ll take another wing defender you can bring off the bench. There are good defenders on this team — Kobe, LeBron — but you can never have enough defenders. Sorry Rudy, nothing personal.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.