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.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.