Russian forward Andrey Kirilenko scores

Andrei Kirilenko bows out of qualifying, next Olympics for Russia

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Russia brought a strong team to London — led by Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved, with the very respected Dave Blatt as coach, the Russians took home the bronze medal.

But they are going to have a very different team in Rio. First Blatt left the team and now Kirilenko is saying he is going to take this Olympic cycle off.

That’s what has been reported at (hat tip to Rob Mahoney at SI’s The Point Forward for finding this).

“After the All-Star Weekend, RBF President Alexander Krasnenkov and the Player of Russian national team Andrei Kirilenko had a discussion, and Andrei announced his decision not to play for the national team during the next Olympic cycle (four years)….

“I have made the decision, though to be honest it wasn’t easy,” Kirilenko said in the RBF statement. “Playing for honor and a responsibility all these years, I was proud to be part of the team.”

Russia is one of a few teams that will look a lot different in Brazil compared to London. At the top of the list is Argentina — it’s golden generation with Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni and Pablo Prigioni all likely gone will be a radically different squad.

Team USA will be different too because Mike Krzyzewski will not be coaching it. Who steps into that role remains to be seen, although the most commonly discussed names are Gregg Popovich (who they should take) and Doc Rivers (who is a good fallback).

Players’ union, NBA to set up cardiac screening for retired players

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First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.

Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”

“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”

The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.

It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.

I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.


Stephen Curry drops 30 on Portland in preseason (VIDEO)

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Somebody is in midseason form.

Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.

Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.