Houston Rockets v Toronto Raptors

Team USA announces player pool for 2014 World Cup team


In January, USA basketball announced a 28-man pool for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic rosters. That field was flexible, and it’s been narrowed and expanded for the World Cup.

In addition to previously named players, DeMar DeRozan and Chandler Parsons were added to the pool – and other players were trimmed.

Here are all 19 players in contention for the World Cup roster:

And here are the players left off from the initial pool. Remember, some of this group could still make the Olympic team:

“Looking at the roster of players who will be participating in the training camp I’m impressed by the success they had this past season and by what they have achieved in their careers,” team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a released statement. “It’s valuable to have some veteran leadership who has won gold at the highest levels internationally. The list also includes some of the most exciting young players who could definitely contribute to this team. Myself and the entire coaching staff are excited to get things underway and as we’ve done each summer our team will strive to represent the United States with respect and a commitment to excellence that hopefully will make every American proud.”

Here’s my early guess at the World Cup roster:

PG: Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard

SG: Stephen Curry, James Harden

SF: Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyle Korver

PF: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin

C: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins-Drummond will be an interesting matchup for backup center. Thompson-Beal for third shooting guard and Korver-Hayward-Parsons for specialist will also be intriguing – and the winner of each battle might even have to prove that position warrants a roster spot.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.