If Serge Ibaka had a healthy calf, it is possible the Oklahoma City Thunder make the NBA Finals this season. (And then it is possible they fall to the Heat and change a whole lot of free agency dynamics, but let’s not go that far down the hypothetical yellow brick road.)
Ibaka’s calf strain is healing and is not going to keep him from competing for host Spain at the FIBA World Cup this August and September, reports Spanish Language paper El Mundo (via Hoopshype).
Spain is the two-time Olympic runner-ups to the United States at the Olympics and the second best team in the World. On their home hardwood they post a particular threat with a roster that includes Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Ibaka as the front line. They also have Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez and more quality international players to round everything out.
As Spain will have to deal with a Team USA squad with bigs who can space out the floor with the likes of Kevin Love and Kevin Durant, a mobile defender in the paint is a good thing.
Spain and the USA will be the clear favorites entering the World Cup. However, if you’ve watched any of the soccer World Cup, you know that on that stage upsets happen. Nothing is certain (although basketball tends to follow form more than soccer).
Come the late summer you can be sure PBT will have a lot of World Cup coverage. For now, just know Ibaka is playing.
Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.
Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.
The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.
The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).
So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.
The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.
“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.
“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”
Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)
Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.
And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.
Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.