It is the one weakness for Team USA — after Tyson Chandler there are no other true centers on the USA Basketball roster due to injuries. In The USA’s first game, against the Dominican Republic, coach Mike Krzyzewski tried Kevin Love, LeBron James and seemingly everyone but Chris Paul at the five spot. The Dominicans could do nothing about it.
Brazil is a different story.
Team USA takes on Brazil Monday night in our nation’s capital and this is a team that can attack the United States with size — they have the Wizards’ Nene, they have the Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao, they have the Spurs’ Tiago Splitter and a generally larger team.
They also have a point guard in Marcelo Huertas who can handle the USA’s pressure defense better and is fantastic at picking apart defenses with the pick-and-roll (if the first option doesn’t work out they will re-set screens all night long). He did that at the World Championships in Turkey two years ago as Brazil gave the USA its toughest game of that tournament.
Every time Coach K is asked about the USA and size concerns he comes back with the same response — “they have to match up with us, too.” Which is true, there is nobody on the planet that stops LeBron James at the four. Kevin Durant is a matchup nightmare as well, and Deron Williams is a physical defender who can give Huertas some trouble at the point.
But Brazil is going to be a real test because of their size, the could hurt Team USA on the boards. In the second half of the Dominican Republic rout Krzyzewski went with a Chandler at the five, Love at the four lineup that was more traditional. Expect to see that tonight.
But exhibition games are about learning — expect to see Coach K to throw LeBron, Durant and others against the Brazilian front line because now is when you want to see what works. Now, when the games don’t count, is when to experiment.
If you just wanted to see the USA put on a dunk fest and entertain, you should have watched the Dominican Republic game. If you want to see a real test for Team USA, tune in Monday night.
Last May, Magic Johnson tweeted that the Lakers chase LeBron James, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan in free agency. All three players were still under contract with their teams until July 1.
In response to that apparent tampering, the Lakers announced Johnson had asked the team to remove his title of Vice President.
Too little, too late.
William Weinbaum and Steve Delsohn of ESPN:
Outside the Lines learned this week — and confirmed with a senior Lakers official — that the NBA fined the team over Johnson’s communiques about players under contract to other teams.
If Drake got the Raptors fined for tampering by pitching Durant during a concert, the Lakers deserved this fine.
Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian are dating. There are mixed reports about whether they’re engaged.
No matter their exact terms of their relationship, it brings increased attention to the Cavaliers – who are already in the spotlight as LeBron James‘ team and the defending NBA champions.
LeBron might not welcome increased scrutiny.
Gabriella Ginsberg of Hollywood Life:
LeBron James hasn’t been happy that Tristan Thompson is dating drama magnet Khloe Kardashian, and we hear that the teammates had a locker room showdown before the Cavs’ home opener game.
“Tristan isn’t taking any crap from his teammates anymore. As far as he’s concerned, Khloe’s coming to every damn game she chooses,” the insider reveals. “Tristan told LeBron straight up before last night’s game that Khloe was coming and that was that.”
There’s nothing wrong with LeBron, as a friend, advising Thompson about his personal life. They share an agent, Rich Paul, and that obviously means a lot to LeBron.
But at a certain point, LeBron should back off. Neither coworkers nor friends have a right to determine who someone dates.
76ers players are unsure how to respond to their franchise blocking Sevyn Streeter from singing the national anthem because she wore a “WE MATTER” jersey.
Justise Winslow is seemingly trying to nudge Philadelphia in a certain direction.
The Heat forward posted a photo with himself and the 76ers’ Jerami Grant raising fists and captioned it “WE MATTER”:
I’m unsure when this photo was taken, but my best guess is after the Miami-Philadelphia preseason game – which was preceded by the national-anthem singer kneeling during her performance.
Was Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha making the smart play to beat the defender or just showing off?
Either way, I’m glad he did it.