Kevin Love pulling out of USA Basketball due to lingering likelihood of trade from Timberwolves

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The ongoing reports surrounding Kevin Love and where the trade talks between the Timberwolves and others stand seemed relatively harmless, especially in a time when the NBA news cycle is so traditionally slow.

But there’s a reality that Love is being heavily shopped, at least to the Cavaliers and the Bulls. And due to the uncertainty surrounding where his NBA future will unfold, Love has decided that playing for USA Basketball this summer would simply be too much of a risk.

From Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press:

Kevin Love is pulling out of Team USA because of uncertainty surrounding his status with Wolves.

League sources told AP of Love’s decision to pull out of World Cup this morning. Just can’t risk injury right now.

USA Basketball made it official shortly after the initial report.

USA Basketball National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo today announced that Kevin Love(Minnesota Timberwolves) has informed USA Basketball that because of his current status he will be unavailable to participate with the USA National Team this summer. The U.S. team is scheduled to begin its 2014 preparations for the FIBA Basketball World Cup with a training camp July 28-Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. USA Basketball will utilize the Las Vegas training camp to identify players for this summer’s USA World Cup Team.

“The fact is we can only look to the players we have available. Our job is to get the job done with our very, very deep roster, and we’re anxious to get things started,” said Colangelo.

This is a big loss for USA Basketball this summer, mainly because of how excited the organization was when Love (along with Kevin Durant) formally announced their intentions to play in the World Championships at mini-camp in Las Vegas last summer.

But his unresolved trade from the Timberwolves, which more than likely won’t be able to be completed for at least 30 more days, has forced a change of plans.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.