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Report: Philippines wants to naturalize JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche before World Championships

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Because the JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche pairing worked so well before in Washington….

The FIBA World Cup (what you used to call the World Championships) is coming to Spain this summer and the Philippines team will be there, having qualified as the No. 2 team in FIBA’s Asia tournament (behind Iran, surprisingly). The Philippines were led up front by 6’11” Marcus Douthit (who played at Providence, was drafted in the second round by the Lakers and spent a couple of years in the D-League).

Now the Philippines want to bring in the big guns of McGee and/or Blatche, reports Philstar, via Sportando.

Gilas Pilipinas has got an extra month of training period for the 2014 FIBA World Cup (the Philippines professional league shortened its season for the cause), and is now looking at NBA players JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche to be put in a pool of naturalized players for use in its long-term program…

Before June 30, Gilas is hoping Congress grants McGee and Blatche their naturalization papers….

“We’re in discussion with Javale. However, he’s just found out that he needs to undergo a procedure for his shin injury. With that development, it’s prudent also to choose a backup. Blatche agreed to undergo the naturalization process. He wants to play for the Philippines,” said Reyes.

This has the potential to be both a smart basketball move and a gold mine of unintentional comedy. I’m more pleased with the latter.

McGee has played in just five games for the Nuggets this season due to a stress fracture in his left tibia, and he’s not even back to running yet (just working on an elliptical machine). Blatche, on the other hand, is having a solid season for the Brooklyn Nets. While McGee has had tryouts with Team USA he’s never made the squad for a tournament (once you play for one nation in a major FIBA event you have to play for that nation the rest of your career).

If this goes through — and that’s still a big if — suddenly the Philippines team becomes a lot more interesting. Not a threat to the United States or Spain (the two title contenders) but a lot more interesting to watch.

The World Cup will take place Aug. 30 through Sept. 14 in Spain. The event is nearly as popular as the Olympics for basketball (at least outside the United States) and the winner of the event gets an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Which is why Team USA will be focused — lose this to Spain and in the summer of 2015 the USA has to assemble a team good enough to qualify for Rio, not take the summer off.

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

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This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings,  and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).