Report: Wizard’s Drew Gooden to play for Finland in World Cup

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Things I did not know before today: Drew Gooden is half Finnish. As in he has citizenship in Finland.

His father, a former professional basketball player, met his mother while playing in Finland, something he told ESPN’s Jemele Hill a few years back (hat tip to Eye on Basketball).

By the way, Finland is playing in the FIBA World Cup coming up, and it’s not exactly a country deep in high level basketball talent. So…

That is Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post confirming something ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla mentioned during the USA Basketball blue and white scrimmage on Friday night.

Gooden was waived by the Bucks after the 2013 season and was without a team last season until the Wizards gave him a couple 10-day contracts. He found a home playing with the bench group of the Wizards — his shooting helped space the floor as Andre Miller was dishing the rock — as they started to make their run last season before Nene’s return. Gooden’s game will blend well enough in international ball… plus it’s Finland. It’s not like they have a ton of better guys hanging around.

Finland, the world’s 39th ranked team, made the World Cup as one of FIBA’s “wild card” selections along with Brazil (ranked 10th), Greece (fifth) and Turkey (seventh). Finland was taken in front of China, Russia (2012 Olympic bronze medalists) and Germany (among others) for a wild card spot.

How did such a low seed vault over all those other teams to get a coveted spot? Well, they did have four wins at EuroBasket. But really it’s that they travel well and had the backing of Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) — basically, they were going to make FIBA money at the venue.

Nice to know that FIBA has some FIFA in them. Can we expect the next basketball World Cup in Qatar?

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.