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.
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Nene hurt his calf. Drew Gooden is banged up. Martell Webster is out for the season.
Those are three players the Wizards expected to play power forward this season.
So, Washington – which has lost four straight – will bring in another big man: Ryan Hollins.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Wizards have a full roster of 15 players. They don’t qualify for a hardship exemption, which a team gets if four players have missed three straight games and will continue to be out. Only Webster and Alan Anderson definitely fit that bill. Gooden, who has missed five straight, might. But it’s unclear both how many of those absences were due to injury and when he’ll return.
So, Washington will have to waive someone to sign Hollins now. It’ll probably be Webster, whose $5,845,250 2016-17 salary is just $2.5 million guaranteed. If he’s out for the year and the Wizards plan to drop him by the summer to clear cap space, why not just do it now?
Hollins is more center than power forward and doesn’t appear to fit well with Marcin Gortat. But at this point, Washington just needs big bodies. Hollins – a nine-year veteran who plays decent interior defense, lacks offensive skill and rebounds poorly for his 7-foot frame – is at least that.
Sometimes – as Kristaps Porzingis sees against Dwight Howard – it’s more flattering just to play James Harden-level defense.