Who: France vs Lithuania.
The French squad features five current NBA players in Tony Parker (Spurs), Nicolas Batum (Blazers), Boris Diaw (Spurs), Nando De Colo (Spurs) and Joffrey Lauvergne (Nuggets). Former NBA players Johan Petro, Alexis Ajinca and Mickael Gelabale are on the roster as well.
The Lithuanian squad features only two NBA players in Donatas Motiejunas (Rockets) and Jonas Valanciunas (Raptors). Linas Kleiza, who was released by the Raptors this offseason, is on the team as well.
What: Here’s what’s at stake. France has never won a European title, and it’s been ten years since Lithuania won gold. Both teams are hungry for a win, but Lithuania might have the mental edge going in. In the second round of EuroBasket back on September 11th, they crushed France 76-62 and limited Parker to just 11 points. Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and 6 boards in just 16 minutes of playing time.
When: 12 pm PT
Where: Slovenia. Keep an eye on the Bronze Medal game beforehand between Spain and Croatia for more NBA players going at it.
Why: Here’s why you should watch. Tony Parker has played big minutes and put up big points all tournament, averaging 19.3 a game and leading all scorers. He’s been brilliant. Although you wouldn’t expect it, the French team has struggled behind the arc quite a bit, shooting 33 percent as a team. Can Parker continue to save the day offensively?
Valanciunas is the player to watch on the other end. Many have him pegged as breakout candidate this year after his summer domination, but Valanciunas hasn’t been as consistently great against much better competition. He does lead the Lithuanian squad in rebounds and blocked shots, however.
This is the very last of the best basketball you’ll see for nearly a month, and these are two great teams going at it in an emotionally charged setting. Enjoy it while you can.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.
First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.
Three quick takeaways here:
1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.
2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.
3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.
(Hat tip reddit)
VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”
That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.
Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:
“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”
Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.
And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.