Kevin Love has been under fire the past two weeks. He struggled in exhibition play, and his role on Team USA was questioned. He was supposed to be the other big to help Team USA with a roster that has almost no size. There was talk of him slipping out of the rotation almost entirely. But against France with a more rugged but overall shorter lineup and in need of someone to put the ball in the basket, Love stepped up, stepped out, and burned the doghouse down.
Love finished with 14 points in 14:18 of play, and helped Team USA to a 98-71 win over France Sunday. Love was tipping in shots, nailing jumpers, and cutting to the basket. He seemed much more at ease than in previous games with Team USA and he really helped jump-start the offense in the third quarter after Team USA only lead by single digits at the half. Love finished with seven points in the third and Team USA broke the game open, and never looked back.
It’s a sign of Team USA’s depth. When some of their players don’t play as well, like Carmelo Anthony who had a rough game Sunday, they have guys to step up. Chris Paul had arguably been the weakest of the guards in exhibition play, and he was electric, while Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook struggled. James Harden made plays. There always seems to be someone ready to step up and make the plays necessary. This team may not have the depth of the Dream Team, but it’s impossible to say that they’re not an incredible collection of players with an answer to a million questions that can be asked of them.
And it’s a testament to Coach K’s flexibility that he not only put Love on the floor with the game still within reach, but put him in a position to put his struggles on this team behind him. With every game, Team USA seems to get more confident not only in each other, but with their own roles on this team. And with France one of the tougher teams they’ll face in group play, it was just the kind of start Team USA needed: an early struggle, responded to with depth, versatility, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and a total effort to put away the French and leave the game beyond any doubt.
Even in a game where they didn’t play their best, Team USA looks ready.
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.
LeBron James denied wanting to fight Kyrie Irving, but wanting to meet with his for-now Cavaliers co-star? That might be another story. Likewise, Irving – in light of his trade request – might not be eager to meet with LeBron.
Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland, as transcribed by Jackson Flickinger of King James Gospel:
“From very reliable sources. Plural. Kyrie and LeBron were in the same room over the weekend in Florida…Apparently these guys were in the same room and here’s the deal. I don’t know if there’s a thawing out process. All I do know is LeBron didn’t punch Kyrie the way Stephen A thought he would. I can report that. As for what they talked about or discussed…it was very cool. They didn’t get into any heated discussions.”
Did LeBron and Irving actually meet? Both were spotted in Miami, but maybe someone is just connecting dots that don’t belong connected.
Whether or not LeBron and Irving met, they might need to soon. Cleveland will have a tough time getting its desired return for Irving before the season, and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert discussed the possibility of Irving returning. LeBron isn’t getting traded.
No matter the disconnect between the two, LeBron and Irving might have to figure out how to work together a while longer. It’d be nice if that process has already begun.
About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.
Have the two sides progressed since?
Nick Friedell of ESPN:
Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.
Expected by whom?
People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?
Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?
For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.
A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.
LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers
Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.