Spain has the second best national basketball team in the world. Anchored in the paint by brothers Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, plus with a host of good guards such as Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio, they have won two Olympic silver medals in a row, able to beat out every nation on earth save the USA.
This summer Spain hosts the World Championships and the Lakers’ Gasol (Pau) will be in uniform. If there was a tournament where Spain might beat the USA, this one on their home soil is the best of candidates.
But Gasol refused to look much farther in his crystal ball — he doesn’t know yet if he will suit up for Spain in 2016 in the Rio Olympics, Gasol told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Gasol told this newspaper he remains undecided whether he will play in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janiero, aware that he will then be 36 and saddled with plenty of basketball mileage.
“That’s the main thing. Can I stay healthy and can I play and continue to excel?” Gasol said. “Everything takes its toll. You continue to add miles and then there’s a point where that’s as far as you get.”
Kobe Bryant, who is not going to be part of Team USA in 2016, said he plans to go to Brazil just to watch Gasol win another silver.
It’s too far off to say if anyone in particular will play in 2016 — would LeBron James want to go for a basketball record fourth gold, or take a summer off? Could Derrick Rose be healthy and be back to being a force of nature? Of course the threat of injury looms over everyone.
But 2016 would pretty much be the last run for this golden era of Spanish basketball, by the 2018 World Championships or 2020 Tokyo Olympics the group will be too old. Which is why I think you see Gasol play in Rio if he can (the way the golden era of Argentinian ballers made one last run in London, finishing fourth).
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.