George Hill explains reason for backing out of USA Basketball mini-camp

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LAS VEGAS — George Hill was a late scratch for this week’s USA Basketball mini-camp in las Vegas, with the given reason at the time being listed only as a “scheduling conflict.”

That didn’t seem to be a great excuse considering the late date (July 21) that the organization received word that Hill wouldn’t be participating, and program chairman Jerry Colangelo said he’d want to find out what led to Hill’s decision before making a determination on his future chances to make the team.

Hill has now let us know the reason he couldn’t attend: He chose to keep a commitment to kids at his basketball camp in Texas instead.

From Scott Agness of Pacers.com:

“You always want to do what’s right and make the right decisions,” Hill told Pacers.com on Thursday. “When it came to either trying to do the (National Team minicamp) and letting kids down, my heart is always where the kids are and impacting the community and the future of the kids. I just knew that it was a great opportunity for me to even be invited there, but I always thought it was also a big opportunity for me to keep my word to these kids and continue to be who I am as a person.”

“I’m sure it’ll affect [my status with the program],” he said. “I’m sure there’s going to be people that don’t agree with my decision but also there’s going to be people that do agree. Knowing that I just stayed true to myself and stayed by my decision to keep my word, I should be fine.”

Hill stands by his decision, and while four days working out with some of the game’s best players is an opportunity missed, he was a long shot to actually make any team USA roster.

Only Colangelo can decide if Hill’s reasoning was good enough to get him a pass, but keeping a commitment to children who signed up to spend time with him at his personal basketball camp would seem to be a solid excuse.

Sure, maybe he could have given more advance notice. But with the final roster ending up with a total of 28 players, the camp had more than enough talent in place — to the point where Hill probably wasn’t even missed.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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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?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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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.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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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.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.