Lost in Paul George story, Derrick Rose looked good in USA Basketball exhibition

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With good reason, Paul George and his horrific injury were the focus after Friday night’s USA basketball exhibition in Las Vegas. That story will reverberate through the NBA for years.

But if Paul George had not been the story, Derrick Rose would have been.

[RELATED: Will Paul George’s injury change USA roster for 2016?]

We had told you that this week Rose was getting rave reviews out of Team USA practices.

“Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

“He’s playing well,” fellow Chicagoan Anthony Davis added. “He’s playing out of his mind. He’s being Derrick Rose.”

Friday night he showed everyone, with quickness and explosion that looked like his old self. He blew by some of the world’s elite players like they were standing still. He was quick end-to-end and showed some nice passing skills as well. He looked like the guy who was the league’s youngest MVP.

[RELATED: Derrick Rose explodes past defense for two-handed slam at hoops showcase (VIDEO)]

All week Rose talked about the maturity of his game now, for example he developed a floater so he wouldn’t have to take the contact going to the rim all the time (after a couple practices he stayed on the court to work on just that shot). He knows he’s got some real talent around him and he doesn’t have to carry the scoring load the same way.

“I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more, being smart with my speed rather than just running wild out there,” Rose said of his game. “I’’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

There was still a little rust on Rose, as is to be expected. But that’s the reason he should be with Team USA this summer, to shake that off and get his confidence back now.

Here’s the key thing, before George went down we were all thinking the same thing: If that Derrick Rose can play 75+ games next season, even if the Cavaliers get Kevin Love to pair with LeBron James and Kyrie they are going to have some serious competition to get out of the East.

[RELATED: Rose says Bulls are more talented than at any point in his career]

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.