USA v Great Britain - Men's Exhibition Game

Report: USA Basketball considers adding another star to roster…. but don’t expect Kevin Love

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Kevin Love is not walking through that door.

And that’s okay, Team USA is still likely to make it to the World Cup gold medal game in Spain in September without him.

No doubt Team USA’s roster could use some star power and scoring punch after Kevin Durant shocked everyone by pulling out on Thursday. Four years ago KD averaged 33 points a game over the USA’s final three games on their way to winning gold at the FIBA World Championships (now called World Cup) and he was actually going to be more important offensively to a guard-heavy Team USA roster this time around.

So what about adding a star player, ideally one who can play the four? USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo got some phone calls on Thursday in the wake of KD’s announcement and is considering his options but likely will play the hand he has, he told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“I’ve had a couple of calls,” Colangelo told Yahoo Sports. “I know a couple agents are offering a good couple of their clients who could fit the bill. I’m going to be on the phones tonight. I was just talking with coach. I’m going to see what our deal is going to be.

“Probably it won’t be anything other than we go forward. But don’t rule out the possibility. …I really need to touch with Coach K so we can have a little discussion. We talked earlier, but because of these calls I wanted to discuss some things with him. As of now, I say no add-ons with a possibility.”

Colangelo went on to say specifically there were no plans to add Kevin Love as a potential replacement.

The problem for Love is that while it looks like he will be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Aug. 23 — one week before the World Cup tips off — the motivation for him to sit this one out remains. Sure, part of that motivations was that he didn’t want risk an injury that would blow up the trade (he’s missed parts of the last two seasons with hand injuries), but the other part is he didn’t want to risk injury before signing a max contract extension next summer (2015). With that deal locked in look for Love to be back for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Even without Durant and Love the USA really still should get all the way to the gold medal game. In their group the next best team is likely Turkey (seventh ranked in the world, but Omer Asik is likely their best player), then when we get to the single-elimination tournament part of the event the toughest team on the USA’s side of the bracket is Lithuania (fourth ranked, led by Dontas Motiejunas and Jonas Valanciunas).

Spain likely awaits in that gold medal game, with a crazy deep roster (Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio and a lot of top flight international players) playing on its home court. But that is one game and the USA’s athleticism and pressure from their guards can win them that one game. That would be a lot easier with Durant or some additional scoring punch on the roster, but the USA’s chances are not ruined without him.

Still, the USA should be considering its options.

Ed Pinckney joining Timberwolves coaching staff

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ed Pinckney has arrived in Minnesota and is serving as a guest coach at Timberwolves training camp, with the expectation that he will soon join coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff.

Pinckney was at the team’s two-a-day practices Wednesday. He was most recently an assistant with the Denver Nuggets. Thibodeau coached with Pinckney in Chicago and immediately targeted him for his staff when he took the Timberwolves job this summer.

It has taken some time to complete the process of Pinckney leaving the Nuggets, but Wolves officials were hoping to finalize Pinckney’s addition to the staff by the end of this week.

Pinckney is a well-regarded assistant with a long history of coaching and playing in the league. He will join Andy Greer, Ryan Saunders, Rick Brunson and Vince Legarza as assistants in Minnesota.

Dave Joerger: Kings will play more small ball

Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger talks to reporters during the Kings basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. Joerger, who was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies at the end of last season, was hired by Kings to replace George Karl, who was fired by the Kings.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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Shortly after the Kings chose center Georgios Papagiannis with the No. 13 pick in the draft, DeMarcus Cousins tweeted, “Lord give me the strength.” Sacramento already had an abundance of centers with Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos. If Cousins wasn’t talking about yoga, Sacramento adding center Skal Labissiere with the No. 28 pick would’ve driven Cousins batty.

At least Kings coach Dave Joerger is accustomed to using two bigs, as he did with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in Memphis.

Joerger, via Cowbell Kingdom:

I anticipate us playing a lot more small ball this year.

I’m not playing big.

Oh.

This is going to lead to some unhappy campers in Sacramento. It won’t be Cousins (not for getting his role reduced, at least). But this will make it hard for Cauley-Stein and Koufos to get satisfactory playing time. It’ll also make it harder for Papagiannis and Labissiere to get minutes to develop.

Like with most things, winning is the best way to quash griping. The Kings have enough wings – Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, Arron Afflalo, Omri Casspi, Ben McLemore, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson – to theoretically play small effectively. If Joerger goes that route, he better find success with it. Otherwise, he could get plenty of heat – including from general manager Vlade Divac, who spoke incredibly highly of his first-round picks, the players most likely to get squeezed out of a small-ball rotation.

Dwane Casey: Jared Sullinger has Raptors’ starting PF job to lose

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 05: Jared Sullinger #7 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against Patrick Patterson #54 of the Toronto Raptors in the first half at TD Garden on November 5, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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Last year, Patrick Patterson declared the Raptors’ starting power-forward job his to lose.

Well, he lost it.

Luis Scola started most of the regular season before Toronto tinkered in the playoffs. Patterson claimed the job. Then, the Raptors turned to DeMarre Carroll with Norman Powel in a small-ball lineup. Finally, Toronto reverted back to Scola.

A year later, there’s still no clear, great option at the position. Scola went to the Nets. Patterson returns. Pascal Siakam and Jarrod Uthoff are rookies. First man up: Newly signed Jared Sullinger.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Doug Smith of the Toronto Star:

“I would say Sullinger is the guy now that it would be his to lose, but I reserve the right to change my mind,” Casey said, citing the need to see how that group reacts defensively.

If Sullinger’s bar is defensive, he’ll have a tough time clearing it. He neither protects the rim nor moves well on the perimeter – making him similar to Scola. But Scola got the job last year with similar contributions.

Sullinger rebounds well, and he has some shooting range, though he hasn’t been selective enough with it.

Patterson’s ability to defend the pick-and-roll might make him a better fit next to Jonas Valanciunas, especially if Patterson has confidence in his 3-point shot.

There should be a place for Sullinger in the rotation, but if he’s starting at power forward, that speaks to a lack of quality options.

Report: Cavaliers giving championship rings to 1,000+ workers

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 20: The Cleveland Cavaliers mascot Moon Dog cheers on the fans prior to the arrival of the Cavs players return to Cleveland after wining the NBA Championships on June 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Cavaliers will reportedly give David Blatt a championship ring, and Anderson Varejao also has one available.

They aren’t the only two unexpected ring recipients.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Majority owner Dan Gilbert and his partners decided to present rings to more than 1,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization, employees who’ve been fitted for rings told cleveland.com.

A conservative cost for distributing rings to employees is more than $1 million.

This is very cool by Gilbert. Obviously, lower-level team employees won’t receive the same blinged-out rings the players get. But this is a nice way to reward their hard work.

Not to go all Jerry Krause, but organizations win championships. Some pieces – LeBron James – matter much more than others, but everyone plays a part. Security guards keep players safe, preventing a dreadful incident that could derail a playoff run. Public-relations staffers ease the burden on players. Ushers improve the fan experience, which increases revenue and helps Gilbert afford a massive luxury-tax bill.

It all adds up, as Gilbert clearly recognizes.