Team USA is not deep along the front line. Kevin Durant will be the USA’s primary power forward with maybe guys like Chandler Parsons and/or Kenneth Faried getting run at that spot. Anthony Davis will be the starting center with a change of pace guy — DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond or Mason Plumlee — off the bench.
What they could use is Kevin Love…
What if Love is traded on Aug. 23 or 24 to Cleveland (as expected), that is a week before the World Cup tips off in Spain. Could Love be added to the roster?
Could? Yes. Likely? Not at all. That’s what USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo said in a media conference call on Tuesday.
“We have to be realistic about the situation…” Colangelo said. “For him to join up with us at that point in time would be tough, not just but for him but for our team. Plus you need to look at the fairness factor… Chances are it won’t happen”
No, that does not completely close the door. It’s ajar. But don’t bet on it opening any farther.
Money is the main reason Love will not get added to the team. It’s always about the money. Once Love gets traded he still plans to opt-out next summer and become a free agent, signing a max deal with Cleveland (or, if things go sideways fast, somewhere else). Get injured and his value plummets. The odds are long, but the Paul George situation is a reminder that injuries do happen. Love just can’t risk it.
Then we can get into whether it’s fair for a guy who didn’t go to camp to just jump back in and the rest of it. But we all know money is the deciding factor here. Why do you think the NBA owners are complaining about players in international events? Because they aren’t getting a piece of that pie.
The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:
Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?
Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:
I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.
Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.
But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.
His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.
Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.
So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.
The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.
Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.
After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).
But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?
The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.
He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.
But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.
I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.
John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.
An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.
But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.