Coach K shuffles rotation, not that it matters as USA routs Britain

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If Thursday’s game in Manchester is any indication Great Britain is going to be a lovely host for the 2012 Olympic Games.

They rolled out the red carpet for Team USA and by the end of the first quarter pretty much rolled over for Team USA, which went on to rout GBR 118-78 in a pre-Olympics exhibition. As a side note, this makes Team USA 52-1 under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The game itself was never going to be that interesting, GBR has Luol Deng, “Pops” Mensah-Bonsu, and Joel Freeland, then a bunch of guys. No offense to the guys but the USA has Anthony Davis as the last guy on the bench, this was over before it started.

The only interesting thing is that Mike Krzyzewski rewarded Deron Williams and Kevin Durant for their strong play in the first two games by starting them and moving Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul to the bench. Williams continued to play brilliantly and had 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting (5-of-6 from three) plus five dimes. Durant just had an off night — in the first quarter he missed a dunk and a layup back-to-back — and finished with 13 points but needed 12 shots to get there.

It will be interesting to see if Coach K sticks with this lineup and how it plays out in more challenging upcoming tune-ups against Argentina and Spain.

For this game, they could have subbed your or me into the starting lineup and it wouldn’t have mattered. So don’t read much into it.

Like a lot of Team USA’s games this tournament, it was a case where a pumped up group of starters for Great Britain — and they have some talent — could hang around with the USA for most of a quarter. But the USA is deep with athletes and talent that will wear all but a handful of teams in the world down.

In this case, it was Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench with the hot hand to spark a late first-quarter run. The thing I love about Carmelo in the international game and on this team is that he works off the ball and defers. He finished with 19 points on 10 shots.

Russell Westbrook also stood out with 15 points and 9 assists. No athletes like him on the GBR team. No athletes quite like him on any team.

GBR could not handle the USA’s ball pressure, and as the game wore on the hosts had 26 turnovers, which turned the end of the game into a Team USA dunking exhibition.

Which was fun, but the games against Spain and Argentina in Barcelona starting Sunday are far more interesting tests. Things like Kevin Love’s unimpressive defense in this game would take on a new tone in those contests.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.