Kawhi Leonard to skip USA Basketball mini-camp; George Hill, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added to the roster

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USA Basketball will hold a four-day mini-camp in Las Vegas following the conclusion of Summer League beginning on July 22, and while the roster was originally set to include Kawhi Leonard, that will no longer be the case.

Leonard will miss the mini-camp “while rehabbing from a long season,” USA Basketball announced on Tuesday via official release. He started all 21 playoff games for the Spurs and played 36.9 minutes per contest in the postseason, so considering that the Finals wrapped up less than a month ago, sitting this event out to get some rest makes perfect sense.

The organization also announced that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and George Hill would be added to the roster, along with Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State University.

Hill was an important part of the Pacers’ playoff run this past season, while MKG and Smart come in with prior USA Basketball experience. Kidd-Gilchrist was a member of the 2011 USA Junior Select Team that won the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit, and was a part of the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team that finished 8-0 and captured the gold medal.

The mini-camp roster now stands at 29 players, and is reprinted below in its entirety.

2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp Roster

NAME                                    POS       HGT       WGT      DOB       NBA TEAM / COLLEGE

Ryan Anderson                        F            6-10        240      05/06/88    New Orleans Pelicans / California

Harrison Barnes                       F            6-8          210      05/30/92    Golden State Warriors / North Carolina

Bradley Beal                             G           6-5          207      06/28/93    Washington Wizards / Florida

Mike Conley                            G            6-1          185      10/11/87    Memphis Grizzlies / Ohio State

DeMarcus Cousins                    C          6-11        270      08/13/90    Sacramento Kings / Kentucky

Anthony Davis                        F/C          6-10        220      03/11/93    New Orleans Pelicans / Kentucky

DeMar DeRozan                      G            6-7          216      08/07/89    Toronto Raptors / USC

Andre Drummond                    C            6-10        270      09/10/93    Detroit Pistons / Connecticut

Kenneth Faried                        F             6-8          228      11/19/89    Denver Nuggets / Morehead State

Derrick Favors                       F/C          6-10        248      07/15/91    Utah Jazz / Georgia Tech

Paul George                            F/G         6-8          221      05/02/90    Indiana Pacers / Fresno State

Taj Gibson                               F            6-9          225      06/24/85    Chicago Bulls / USC

Gordon Hayward                      F           6-8          210      03/23/90    Utah Jazz / Butler

George Hill                               G           6-2          190      05/04/86    Indiana Pacers / IUPUI

Jrue Holiday                             G           6-4          205      06/12/90    New Orleans Pelicans / UCLA

Kyrie Irving                             G           6-3          191      03/23/92    Cleveland Cavaliers / Duke

DeAndre Jordan                       C           6-11        265      07/21/88    Los Angeles Clippers / Texas A&M

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist             F           6-7          232      09/26/93    Charlotte Bobcats / Kentucky

Ty Lawson                               G           5-11        195      11/03/87    Denver Nuggets / North Carolina

Damian Lillard                         G           6-3          195      07/15/90    Portland Trail Blazers / Weber State

Greg Monroe                            C          6-11        250      06/04/90    Detroit Pistons / Georgetown

Chandler Parsons                     F           6-9          227      10/25/88    Houston Rockets / Florida

Larry Sanders                           C           6-11        235      11/21/88    Milwaukee Bucks / VCU

Marcus Smart                           G           6-4          200      03/06/94    Oklahoma State University (2016)

Klay Thompson                       G           6-7          205      02/08/90    Golden State Warriors / Washington State

Dion Waiters                           G            6-4          215      12/10/91    Cleveland Cavaliers / Syracuse

Kemba Walker                          G          6-1          184      05/08/90    Charlotte Bobcats / Connecticut

John Wall                                G            6-4          195      09/06/90    Washington Wizards / Kentucky

Tyler Zeller                             F/C          7-0          250      01/17/90    Cleveland Cavaliers / North Carolina

 

Managing Director:  Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball

Head Coach:  Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University

Assistant Coach:  Jim Boeheim, Syracuse University

Assistant Coach:  Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

Assistant Coach:  Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans

Athletic Trainer:  Gregg Farnam, Minnesota Timberwolves

Athletic Trainer:  Joe Sharpe, Oklahoma City Thunder

Athletic Trainer:  Jon Ishop, New Orleans Pelicans

Could Game 4 Monday be Manu Ginobili’s last in the NBA? He hasn’t decided.

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If the San Antonio Spurs fall to the Golden State Warriors Monday night, their season comes to an end. A frustrating one because of the “what might have been?” questions if Kawhi Leonard had not rolled his ankle.

It also could be the last time we see Manu Ginobili play.

The Argentinian with the clever passing and high IQ game will turn 40 before next season starts and has hinted at this being his last year. He’s also not thinking about that right now and told the San Antonio Express-News he has yet to make a decision on his future.

“I’m going to go game by game,” Ginobili said. “We’ll see if (Monday) is the last one of the season. We hope that it’s not, and that we have a few more. Once it’s over, then I’ll start wondering what the future brings.”

Of course he said that, what else would he have said?

The question for athletes at his point in their careers becomes this: Do I want to still put in the extra work it takes to get my body ready to play at this level? Listen to the greats that left the game recently — Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett — and that’s the common theme. They were ready to move on, they didn’t want to be working out at 7 a.m. all summer long and avoiding trips to In-n-Out (or Whataburger for Duncan) because they had to prepare for another long grind of a season.

Does Ginobili want to put in the work? It didn’t sound like it over the course of the season, but who knows. He made $14 million this season, that’s a lot of motivation to come back.

If he does leave, he will be missed. There hasn’t been anyone quite like him in the game.

 

Death threats may prompt Thunder’s Enes Kanter to become US citizen

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Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter said Monday he routinely received death threats for criticizing the government of his native Turkey, and he may seek an expedited process toward becoming a U.S. citizen.

Kanter was detained at an airport in Romania over the weekend, with border police there saying they did so because Turkish authorities canceled his passport. Kanter eventually was allowed to leave for London and then New York, after he said officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others intervened on his behalf.

Kanter held a news conference in New York on Monday and said he was the target of two more death threats earlier in the day.

“This is definitely crazy right now,” he said.

Kanter has long been a critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he has likened to Adolf Hitler on multiple occasions. Kanter contends, among other things, that a failed coup attempt last year was actually staged by the Erdogan-led government.

“I call it the fake coup attempt,” Kanter said. “Last year, they did a fake coup attempt themselves, so they can control everything. So right now, the Erdogan government is controlling the army, controlling the police, controlling judges, controlling journalists, everything.”

Kanter makes no secret of his support of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who opposes Erdogan. Kanter said that when he was detained in Romania, he feared he would be sent back to Turkey.

Kanter said he has not spoken with his parents and other relatives in Turkey in more than a year.

“There’s no democracy. There’s no freedom of speech, freedom of religion. It’s definitely been crazy,” Kanter said. “Right now, even if I tried to communicate with my parents, my mom, my dad, my brother or sister, they would probably right now listen on their phones and as soon as they are in contact with me they’ll put them in a jail. And the jails are not fun, of course.”

Kanter has a green card for entry to the U.S. but no passport, which is problematic on several fronts. He had several international trips planned this summer on his foundation’s behalf, and he also likely would not be able to enter Canada without the passport – a problem considering Oklahoma City plays once each season in Toronto.

Romanian Border Police Spokesman Fabian Badila told The Associated Press that Kanter arrived Saturday at about 1 p.m. from Frankfurt at Bucharest’s Henri Coanda Airport, traveling on a Turkish passport.

“My colleagues discovered … that the passport had been canceled by Turkish authorities, and legally he is not allowed to enter Romania,” Badila said.

Kanter has been in the NBA for six seasons. He averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds this season for the Thunder. He said it’s his understanding that the process to become a U.S. citizen can take five years, though he hopes that can be accelerated in his case.

“I feel like this is my home now,” Kanter said.

Report: Knicks letting go Kristaps Porzingis’ favorite assistant coach

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There’s a rift between Knicks president Phil Jackson and Kristaps Porzingis.

Porzingis skipped his exit interview in reported protest of the team’s dysfunction. This sure feels like retaliation from Jackson.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

The New York Knicks are not renewing the contract of assistant coach Josh Longstaff, according to a team official.

Longstaff, 34, was well-respected in the Knicks’ locker room, so the decision will likely come as a surprise to players.

Players such as Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Ron Baker, Chasson Randle, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Marshall Plumlee credited Longstaff and fellow assistant Dave Bliss with helping them with individual development. He played the same role in the development of Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway.

Longstaff was the assistant coach who was closest to Porzingis.

It’s hard to evaluate assistant coaches from the outside, and Longstaff wasn’t hired by Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. There could be sound reasons to let Longstaff go.

But most of those players developed well under his tutelage. There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence he did his job well.

The Knicks can’t reasonably trade Porzingis, who’s one of the few bright spots on Jackson’s record. Without Porzingis, Jackson’s already-shoddy reputation as an executive would be completely shot.

So, this feels like a measured response by Jackson – a message that he can hurt Porzingis without resorting to dealing him from New York, where Porzingis says he wants to be. Follow orders, or your Knicks experience will become even worse.

Of course, that might not have been the Knicks’ intent when dropping Longstaff. But they’ll have to convince Porzingis if they want to repair their relationship with him.

Down 3-0 to Warriors, Spurs still joking about their predicament

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San Antonio’s sense of humor was still there Sunday.

Gregg Popovich predicted that Golden State stayed out way late after winning Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, celebrating with burgers and sundaes before spending Sunday playing poker. Manu Ginobili, amid plenty of questions about whether his career is ending, said the Spurs planned to lose the first three games of this series simply to make their comeback look more impressive.

The laughs seemed helpful.

The reality is that Golden State is just better, especially against a seriously undermanned Spurs team.

All jokes aside, the Spurs – and everyone else watching this West final – know it’s just about over. No team has successfully rallied from 3-0 down in an NBA playoff series, and a San Antonio team that is without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and now David Lee is facing that most precarious deficit. Game 4 is Monday in San Antonio, with Golden State now on the brink of clinching its third straight NBA Finals trip.

“Circumstances were such that we could be in a totally different position now,” said Popovich, the Spurs coach whose teams have been swept only twice in 52 previous series on his watch. “That didn’t happen. It’s called life. Slap yourself. Quit your crying and move on. Game 4.”

He’s right, of course. How different this could have been if Leonard didn’t re-injure his ankle when San Antonio was rolling with a 23-point lead in the third quarter of Game 1. The Spurs led by at least 22 points in each of their first four games against the Warriors this season. What they did against Golden State worked better than what anyone else did against Golden State.

Then, thud.

Leonard – who won’t play in Game 4 barring something “miraculous,” Popovich said – has been out since landing on Zaza Pachulia‘s foot in a hotly debated was-it-dirty-or-not closeout by the Warriors’ center. Game 1 changed in that instant, the whole series changed along with it and the Warriors will become the first team in NBA history to start a postseason 12-0 if they win on Monday.

“You know what the Spurs are about. … They’ve got a lot of pride. These guys are pros, man,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “We can’t come out here and feel like we’ve won already before the game has started. We’ve got to go take it.”

The Warriors have made it look easy, which is their normal. Golden State has won 12 consecutive games, the third time this season the Warriors have enjoyed such a streak. Combine the regular season and the postseason, and this Golden State team (78-15, .839) has a better record so far than last year’s regular-season record-setting club (88-18, .830).

Still, they’re not satisfied.

“We’ve got to play better,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said.

As impressive as they have been, the Warriors have had lapses. Golden State turned the ball over 21 times in Game 3 , leading to 25 San Antonio points. The Warriors also yielded 15 offensive rebounds, which San Antonio turned into 18 more points.

They won by 12 anyway. And if closing a team out on the road is supposed to be among the toughest postseason tasks, the Warriors have apparently missed that memo: Golden State won by 25 in Portland to clinch the first round, and by 26 in Utah to close out the second round.

“You let those guys get rolling, they’re a handful,” Spurs forward Pau Gasol said.

Ginobili helped keep San Antonio close in Game 3 with 21 points. He’ll likely get an emotional welcome Monday, just in case the veteran decides this season will be his last – a topic he wanted really no part of on Sunday, saying he’ll decide over the summer.

“This is getting a little weird,” Ginobili said after questions hinting at retirement. “It truly is.”

NOTES: The only teams to sweep a Popovich-coached team were the Suns in 2010 (when Warriors coach Steve Kerr was GM in Phoenix) and the Lakers in 2001 (when Kerr played for the Spurs). … Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said there’s no change in Pachulia’s condition. Pachulia played only 7 minutes of Game 2 with a heel injury, and didn’t play Saturday. … Durant lauded Popovich for not playing Leonard through the bad ankle, saying other players appreciate when teams put the future of their own players first.