Olympics Day 4 - Basketball

Tuesday Olympics recap: Spain wins but gets a reason to worry

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We’ve told you about the big games of the day… well the one big game — France’s minor but key upset of Argentina — and the other big game for us, the expected USA rout of Tunisia.

But there were four other games played in London on Tuesday that you didn’t watch. That’s why we’re here for you. Because we care.

Here is a recap of Tuesday’s action.

Spain 82, Australia 70: Spain improves to 2-0 in Group B behind 20 points from Pau Gasol, pretty much as expected. The biggest news out of this game is that Spanish point guard and team captain Juan Carlos Navarro missed the game with a foot injury. He has long battled plantar fasciitis and if it flairs up and he can’t play in the medal rounds that could be a big hinderance for Spain.

Russia 73, China 54: This was not the prettiest game at the start — China opened up shooting 6-of-19, Russia 7-of-18. But the Russians found their range thanks to another big game from Andrei Kirilenko who had 16 points. Russia improves to 2-0 in Group B, tied with Brazil and Spain, and they look not only like a team that will advance to the medal round but a team that will be a tough out. China is now 0-2 despite 16 points and 7 boards from Yi Jianlian.

Brazil 67, Great Britain 62: This one was a whole lot closer than expected, in fact it was tied 27-27 at the half. Luol Deng is trying to do a little bit of everything for the host Brits and he almost had a deceiving triple-double with 12 points, 8 boards and 7 assists — but he shot 1-of-11 at one point and seemed to be holding them back. Then when they needed him late he knocked down a couple hero-ball threes to get it close. However, Brazil held on in part because of the 21 points from power forward Marcus Vieira. Brazil also is 2-0 on group play while the hosts are looking for their first win.

Lithuania 72, Nigeria 53: Both of these teams are now 1-1 in the middle of a crowded Group A (although Nigeria’s win came against lowly Tunisia and it is likely their only one). Lithuania led by double digits most of the way, although Nigeria chipped away at it near the half to make things look closer than they really were. Linus Kleiza had 13 points and six rebounds for Lithuania, while Sarunas Jasikevicius added nine points and nine assists.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Ike Diogu finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Nigeria, but as a team the Africans shot just 24 percent. And that will not get it done.

Who will start at power forward for Bulls? “It’s an open competition.”

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 29: Nikola Mirotic #44 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Four-fifth of the Chicago Bulls starting lineup this season is locked in: Rajon Rondo at the point, Dwyane Wade at the two, Jimmy Butler at the three, and Robin Lopez at center.

But who starts at the four? Taj Gibson? Nikola Mirotic? Bobby Portis?

Fred Hoiberg isn’t letting anyone know quite yet, via our friend Sean Highkin of The Athletic.

The conventional wisdom has been that Mirotic would get the start because with Rondo/Wade/Butler teams could just pack the paint, clog driving lanes, and force them to shoot jumpers. Mirotic shot 39 percent from three last season and could be a stretch four that opens driving lanes for the three guys who like to slash to the rim. The downside there is defense, which is why Gibson can’t be counted out.

Expect Hoiberg to try a lot of combos trying to figure out what works. That’s what preseason games are for.

Jahlil Okafor’s hands dwarf a basketball (photo)

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
Nick Laham/Getty Images
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It’s cool the 76ers had a baby-sized basketball for Jahlil Okafor to hold.

Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News:

Wait. That’s a regulation NBA ball?

Stephen Curry on his pending free agency: “I want to be back here. I like playing here.”

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, left, and Stephen Curry pose for photos during NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Next summer, Stephen Curry will be a free agent.

With 100 percent certainty, he will be a max player.

With 99.9 percent certainty, he is not leaving the Golden State Warriors, if you talk to other teams around the league.

Still, when he heads to his hometown of Charlotte and a few other spots, he’s going to be asked about it. The topic came up on Tuesday, the first day of Warriors training camp practices, and Curry tried to shoot the idea of him leaving down. Here is the exchange, via Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News.

Are you optimistic about your chances of coming back next offseason?

“Yes,” Curry said.

 

Kevin faced this a ton last year in almost every city he went. Are you gonna talk to him at all about that, how he handled it?

“Maybe,” Curry said. “But I’m not gonna let it distract me at all. I want to be back here. I like playing here. And that’s it. The rest of it is about what we’re gonna do this year.”

There are a lot of teams hoarding cap space and planning to make a run at free agents next summer, but no teams are setting their sights on Curry as happened with Durant. Where there was a sense around the league Durant wanted to look at his options and could be swayed, that is not the sense with Curry. He’s not going anywhere.

Maybe Curry plays the final couple years of his career back in his hometown of Charlotte, where his father played, but that’s a long ways off. At midnight July 1 next summer the Warriors will offer Curry a five-year max contract, he will sign it, and nothing will change in the Bay Area.

LeBron James has Chris Bosh’s back, says he was “surprised” by Heat’s move

LeBron james, Chris Bosh
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Chris Bosh‘s career with the Miami Heat is over due to recurring blood clots, according to team president Pat Riley. The Heat are ready to move on, although they don’t have many good options.

Chris Bosh wants to prove he can still play, something he reiterated Tuesday in his latest video for The Uninterrupted. “I feel right now that I can still play at that level,” Bosh said in the video.

When asked where he stood on this impasse, former Heat star and Bosh teammate LeBron James had Bosh’s back. Here is his quote, via Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

“I stand behind my brother Chris,” he said. “The most important thing is his health. Whatever decision he wants to do, I’m all for it. I support him in every way, shape and facet. It’s a difficult situation for him. I was pretty surprised to hear that the team was just done with him, for them to come out and say that. But it’s not like I’ve been there to know exactly what’s gone on. I’ve only seen it from the exterior. I wish the best for him, he has my support.”

Not sure what else LeBron would say, other than to have his friend’s back.

The resolution to Bosh’s situation is a long way off. The Heat will not play him, he will not retire, and no team is going to give up good players in a trade for a $75.8 million contract where the player may never set foot on the court again. There is going to be some kind of negotiated deal, likely with the league and players’ union pitching in. Nobody is sure yet what that deal will look like, however.