Who should be the next Team USA coach? Popovich? Rivers?

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Mike Krzyzewski has said this will be his last Olympics as the head coach of Team USA. Personally, I wouldn’t turn down a free trip to Rio but Krzyzewski apparently wants out. You can bet USA Basketball President Jerry Colangelo will try to talk him out of leaving, and sometimes those pitches work.

But if it doesn’t, who should be the next Team USA head coach?

There are serious fences to mend, but Gregg Popovich is the clear best choice. He’s respected by players, he has a system that fits the international game (look at the Spurs roster) and most of all he has the gravitas needed to coach a team with that many stars and egos. He’s the perfect fit. But there is real friction between him and Colangelo and Krzyzewski so it may not happen. Because adults will act like 6-year-olds with grudges.

If not Pops, Adrian Wojnarowski makes a pitch at Yahoo Sports that Celtics coach (and NBC Olympic broadcaster) Doc Rivers should be next up.

He’s come to London to work in the studio for NBC Sports on Olympic basketball, but his trip’s been an excuse to grab a notebook and visit Spain and Brazil and Argentina practices. He has a resumé with USA Basketball, including one job as a gold-medal assistant in the Goodwill Games. USA Basketball will be searching for a national team coach in 2016, and however the structure of Olympic basketball changes, Rivers is an ideal candidate….

He’s the best coach for the traditional Olympic format of NBA stars, or the proposed under-23 change that could include his son, Austin Rivers…. “To represent your country is the absolute best honor,” Rivers said, “and if you ever get the opportunity, it would be hard to turn down.”

It takes a special personality to be the coach of Team USA. It starts with having someone in that seat that players respect and will come to play for. Put bluntly, Team USA’s roster isn’t as deep if Vinny Del Negro is coaching. Then you need a coach that is above the petty politics of the sport, a guy who can simply walk in and command the locker room and get the best players in the world to agree to take on smaller roles and be part of a team not the star.

That’s a small list of guys. Rivers is on it. Popovich is on it. While there are other great college coaches I’m not sure any of them have the gravitas to get a buy in from players the way Krzyzewski does. Then there are great coaches like Phil Jackson who have the gravitas but whose style — let the team learn over time from their own mistakes — are a poor fit with the condensed Team USA schedule.

It will be interesting to see who is next. The USA has redeemed its place atop the world’s basketball pecking order, but not many guys are set to keep it there.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.

Report: Isaiah Thomas looking at first week of January for return to Cavs

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Just when we though Isaiah Thomas had fallen off the collective radar of the NBA, he squeaks right back in.

Thomas, who the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired in a trade this summer for Kyrie Irving, has yet to play a game due to a nagging hip injury. That injury caused some back-and-forth squabbling between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics, but things got sorted and the teams went on their way.

Irving has been spectacular of course, helping to lead the Celtics to a record of 25-7 in the absence of Gordon Hayward, good enough for the top slot in the Eastern Conference.

Now, it appears that Thomas is ahead of schedule and will be ready to help the Cavaliers fight for that spot come early January. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Thomas and Cleveland want him to be playing the first week of the new year.

Via Twitter:

Of course, we’ve heard this before. The team has said this season that Thomas would play in January. Then the line moved and the Cavaliers thought he would play in December. It’s now moved back to January, but reports are more firm as we’re closer to the expected date and Thomas is playing in 4-on-4 drills. The great news is this honed return date seems to directly target the second game of 2018 for the Cavaliers, which is conveniently against the Celtics.

No doubt Thomas will be jonesing to take on his former team, where he certainly would have preferred to stay after a stellar season in 2016-17. Still, Thomas has been in good spirits — he gets to play with LeBron James for goodness sake — and the Jan. 3 game will be one to watch.

If Thomas can’t make it for that January matchup, the next opportunity he will have to beat Boston will be on Feb. 11.