USA Basketball is down a couple of big men with the late withdrawals of both Blake Griffin and Kevin Love from the team over the past few days.
Griffin gave no other reason than wanting to focus on his upcoming season with the Clippers, while Love’s likelihood of being traded prohibited him from taking any injury risks by competing with Team USA this summer.
There are a few more than serviceable options on the team, and honestly, they probably would have been just fine playing in the World Championships without making any additions. But if nothing more than for the sake of depth, a last-minute invitation was sent out nonetheless.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
In the wake of multiple withdrawals of frontcourt candidates for the national team, USA Basketball has invited Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap to its training camp this week in Las Vegas, sources told ESPN.
After initially planning to make no roster additions after the withdrawals of Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, USAB officials decided to bring Millsap in as a potential floor-spacer with the ability to play small forward or power forward internationally.
Millsap’s addition puts the mini-camp group back up to 19 players, all of whom will be competing for a spot on the final roster of 12 that will play in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain which begins at the end of August.
In addition to Millsap, who was an All-Star last season in his first year with the Hawks, guys like Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins and Kenneth Faried will be the ones most likely to be at the top of the list to replace Love and Griffin in the frontcourt rotation.
Once again, Kobe Bryant‘s career arc is being compared to Michael Jordan’s.
There’s a lot of reason’s that’s flawed — starting with Kobe being drafted on to a Lakers team that had Shaquille O’Neal and was already considered NBA elite, as opposed to Jordan working to build a franchise up. That said, Kobe has invited the Jordan comparison at times and it has been a constant through is career. Fair or not.
Kobe is coming back this fall after seasons of injury to the NBA and those comparisons continue — now to the Wizards’ version of Jordan. And Kobe is not at all fond of that, as he told Sam Amick of the USA Today.
“This is uncharted territory,” he said. “My 37 (years old) isn’t MJ’s 37 (when he returned after taking two seasons off to play for the Washington Wizards), you know what I mean? Nor is it the same team or the same system that he was playing in. It’s much, much different. There’s really no barometer, no (precedent) for training physically, for recovery. It’s uncharted territory.”
Kobe is right. Jordan had four+ seasons off by the time he was 37 and was not coming off multiple major surgeries.
Kobe is entering his 20th NBA season and what any real basketball fan should wish for him is health. Let him play one full season (with limited minutes and nights off), let him get to the final game of this season next April and make his own decision on his future. Let him leave the game on his own terms.
That said, if Kobe can average Jordan’s numbers at that age — 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game — it will be a major accomplishment, and the Lakers will have a better record than many of us expect.
And Kobe may want to play a 21st season as well.
MILAN (AP) — The Boston Celtics eased to a 124-91 victory over Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum on Tuesday, comfortably winning the first of a double-header in Europe as part of the NBA Global Games.
Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Celtics with 18 points, including nine in his first seven minutes after coming off the bench midway through the first quarter.
Jared Sullinger added 14 points, as did Avery Bradley, who also had four three-pointers, while David Lee weighed in with 13 as well as seven rebounds and three assists.
Alessandro Gentile – who is reportedly wanted by the Houston Rockets, who hold NBA rights to the 22-year-old – top scored for Milano, with 19 points.
Next up for the Celtics is Real Madrid in Spain on Thursday.