Kevin Love leaving Team USA not helpful, certainly not devastating either

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Kevin Love is a unique talent and one whose game fits well in international basketball — he’s a big man who shot 37.6 percent from three last NBA season to stretch the floor, and for his career he grabs better than 20 percent of the available rebounds when on the court. Plus for Team USA he’s a great outlet passer on a team that wants to run opponents into the ground. He’s a matchup nightmare for other teams.

Team USA will miss him in Spain now that he has dropped out of the World Cup competition for this summer. Also out are power forwards Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. We (and I’ll use “we” here as I’m an American) could have used all of them.

But this is far from devastating for Team USA.

The first thing you need to remember is that assembling a team for international basketball is different from putting together an NBA team. Different style of ball. Think back to the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal teams from the USA, they had just two or three traditional NBA “bigs” on the roster and only one was ever on the court at a time. We saw a lot of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at the four (neither of those men are available for the team this summer).

Bigs who can shoot from deep and provide quickness matter more — and Team USA has that in droves.

As for the power forward position… I’d like you to meet Kevin Durant.

From a guy who knows the international game, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.

This also opens the door for DeMarcus Cousins and Kenneth Faried, who will be in camp, as well as Anthony Davis (pretty much a lock to make the team) and Andre Drummond.

USA Basketball President Jerry Colangelo spoke with Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports about the opportunities this opens up for others such as Chandler Parsons who can play either the three or four.

While Davis is expected to make the team, Colangelo also spoke highly about the chances for Cousins, Faried and Drummond. Colangelo also sees Parsons and Paul George as candidates to play power forward and space the floor with their shooting against the international competition.

There is one legitimate concern about the NBA’s front line — facing Spain. That would be the second best team in the world (silver medals the last two Olympics) with a front line of Marc and Pau Gasol. You need enough size on the roster to be ready for that matchup. Remember in the 2012 London Olympics gold medal game Spain was right with Team USA until Marc Gasol got in foul trouble. On their home court with their home crowds (the FIBA World Cup takes place in Spain), the USA can’t count on those kinds of breaks.

But the fact is the USA is so deep with talent and athleticism that the loss of talented players — even a Kevin Love — is far from devastating. Team USA is still the favorites and they have plenty of options along the front line. Colangelo put it this way to Marc Stein of ESPN.

“You can’t just sit around and cry in your beer about who you don’t have. You look at what you do have and you say, ‘We’re going to get the job done.’ We feel very confident about our opportunity. We’re ready for it.”

Dunker Max Pearce throws down another impressive one (VIDEO)

Via _maxw3ll_ on Instagram
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These are the kinds of dunks that make me ask, should the NBA allow pro dunkers in the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest. Some years you get the great Zach LaVine shows, but other years it’s down. NBA players need to focus on their game, not highlight dunks.

Guys like Max Pearce on the other hand…

Here is his latest.

But head to his Instagram page and you get to see a lot of dunks like this.

Stay creative 👍🏽 #Flynance 🏆

A post shared by Max Pearce (@_maxw3ll_) on

Warriors sign power forward Georges Niang to training camp contract

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The Golden State roster is locked in with 15 guaranteed contracts set for next season. We know what their opening day roster is going to look like (and it looks like a champion).

But the Warriors need extra bodies for training camp, so enter Georges Niang, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Niang was drafted in the second round, 50th overall, out of Iowa State in 2016, by Indiana. He played just 93 minutes total with the Pacers last season, he didn’t get much of a chance to impress in Summer League, and they moved on waiving him in July. Niang put up numbers in college, but there were questions about if he was athletic enough for the next level.

Staying in the G-League (formerly D-League) keeps him close to his NBA dream. If it doesn’t work out, in future years he can make a good paycheck overseas, but for now he chases the dream.

Report: Knicks not interested in trading Kristaps Porzingis for Kyrie Irving

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With uncertainty around LeBron James‘ future in Cleveland — and good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks he is staying; LeBron’s options are open, but the sense is he has one foot out the door — the Cavaliers are prioritizing getting a young star to rebuild around back in any Kyrie Irving trade.

At the top of the Cavaliers’ wish list: Kristaps Porzingis.

Except the Knicks have no interest in this trade, reports Steven Marcus and Mike Rose of Newsday.

The Knicks don’t appear interested in trading Kristaps Porzingis, including a possible deal for Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, according to a league source…

“[Knicks president] Steve Mills and [Knicks general manager] Scott Perry on the record were very clear that Kristaps was part of the future,’’ the source said in reference to comments made last month by both executives. “In all the discussions since then — there were other rumors before that Cleveland would want Kristaps — and it didn’t seem that [the Knicks] were interested at all in a conversation.’’

Nor should the Knicks give him up — even if they could dump the anchor Joakim Noah contract in the process.

Irving is a sure thing, an elite scorer and All-Star who averaged 25.2 points and 5.8 assists a game last season and shot better than 40 percent from three. Irving, entering his seventh season, can do more to help a team win next season than Porzingis. He can get more buckets.

But Porzingis could be better — and will be better suited to build a contender around — in the future. Entering just his third season and with the triangle gone, and maybe the shadow of Carmelo Anthony, too, Porzingis should become the focal point of the Knicks next season, and we can see what he will do. KP scored 18.1 points and grabbed 7.2 rebounds a game last season, shot 35.7 percent from three, and while still learning he brings more defense than Irving. Porzingis is a 7’3″ “unicorn” — there isn’t another player like him — and for many years he could be the future of the Knicks. He has the work ethic, he’s shown flashes, they just need to give him a real chance.

Also, the Knicks need to work starting this fall to mend the relationship that Phil Jackson tried to poison.

Bottom line, Irving is good, but the Knicks could build a contender around Porzingis if they handle it right. Not sure they can do that around Irving, and he is older. No way you make that trade if you’re the Knicks. That’s obvious… which is one reason Jackson needed to go.

 

Watch the best ball fakes from the past NBA season

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While we grind through the slow part of the NBA offseason — when even Kyrie Irving trade rumors come with “when we get close to the start of training camp” qualifiers — we continue to get our hoops fix from the best highlights of last season.

Like the top 10 ball fakes, as compiled by NBA.com.

You knew Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving would be on the list, but nice appearance and moves by Ricky Rubio and D'Angelo Russell, too.