Colangelo says Rudy Gay has ‘a legitimate chance’ to make USA Basketball roster

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CHICAGO — Rudy Gay was a late addition to this summer’s USA Basketball roster, joining the team after mini-camp in Las Vegas had ended and only being needed by the squad thanks to the unfortunate injury suffered by Paul George.

But even though he came aboard less than a week ago and went through his first practice with the team Thursday as training camp resumed in Chicago, Jerry Colangelo believes that Gay has a very real shot at making the 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup, which tips off later this month.

“Yes, he does have a legitimate chance,” Colangelo said. “Rudy was on our 2010 World Championship team. He made a great contribution there, he’s in pretty good shape, and he stepped in today like he hadn’t missed a bit, either.”

Gay’s place in the starting lineup of the White team for the day’s final scrimmage — alongside Derrick Rose, James Harden, Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis — essentially confirms Colangelo’s statement. But Gay hasn’t been told whether he’ll be in the same spot in the future.

“We don’t know,” Gay said of the team’s starting lineup. “Coach K keeps that in his back pocket until it’s go time.”

Once Team USA lost George to injury, there was no guarantee that they would bring in anyone else — both due to time constraints, as well as because of the unfamiliarity the majority of candidates have with the USA Basketball program. And, the team can only take 12 players to the World Championships, so some guys who have been there from the beginning won’t make the cut. But Gay reached out and asked to be added, and the prompting to do so came from an unlikely source.

“My ownership with the Kings, he pushed me into it,” Gay said. “And then my agency, they told me I probably should think about it. I had fun last time. I learned a lot, and it was great for me. Also, the guys — a couple of the guys I played with before, and also the World Championship team. They kind of pushed me into playing here again.”

Mark Cuban has famously said he would have his players nowhere near international competition if it was his choice, but Colangelo doesn’t believe that those remarks have much to do with the players.

“His comments were about money, they weren’t about players playing,” Colangelo said.

Gay believes that the owner of the team he plays for, however, is interested more in the basketball side.

“He’s a basketball guy,” Gay said of Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive. “Not to say anything about Mark Cuban, because he’s protecting his investments. Obviously, to an extent, everybody has personal feelings about whether guys should play during the summer or not. But we talked, and he felt the way I felt … that the thing with Paul was kind of a freak accident.”

Gay is no lock to make the team, but it’s more than possible Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski decide that with Kevin Durant gone and the team needing to get its offense now from a wider variety of sources, he’s one of the better options. Krzyzewski was asked what his plans were to redistribute Durant’s “20 shots per game,” and for obvious reasons, he wasn’t exactly worried about who in particular might be willing to step up.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of hands raised,” Krzyzewski said.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.