Next late August and early September the eyes of the basketball world will be focused on Spain where the FIBA World Championships will be played.
Team USA — which is working out some of the NBA’s young stars this week in Las Vegas to get a closer look at them — will be the favorites going in. Already Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have said they want to go, and a number of other stars likely will jump on board.
What about Derrick Rose?
He just missed all of last season following ACL surgery (and Bulls fans let him hear about it), but if he feels right and wants to return Team USA isn’t going to say no to a talent like that, USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo said at his press conference Monday.
“It’s really up to him,” according to Colangelo. “We’re waiting for him to come back physically and emotionally and see how he does this year. But we very much consider him a candidate.”
Team USA likely will be missing a few stars — we’ll see if LeBron James or Kevin Durant head to Spain, but they certainly will be part of the Rio Olympics in 2016 (if they are healthy).
But the USA still rolls out better and more elite athletes than any team on the planet. Then coach Mike Krzyzewski wisely has them pressing on defense and trying to get out and run — use that athleticism to your advantage.
Rose fits right in with that. He’s not a classic point guard but what he brings to the court when healthy other countries just can’t match up with.
The question simply is: How does he feel? And will he want a summer off to recuperate or would he like to go to Spain and see if he can help the USA win (and earn an automatic Olympic berth). Because if he wants to go, they will take him.
This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.
After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.
Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).
Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.
Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.
But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.
He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.
LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.
Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?
In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.
But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.
Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.
“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”
It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)
With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.
“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”
There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.
It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.