It was one of our big questions heading into the Chicago training camp for Team USA — who would start and get the minutes in place of Paul George and Kevin Durant.
In the case of George at the three, the obvious answer was always James Harden and that seems to be where Coach Mike Krzyzewski is headed. (Yes, Harden at the three, Team USA is playing small as it did winning its last couple gold medals.)
At the four… still trying to figure that part out according to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
Three guys on that list are not a shock. From the first day of camp Coach K had raved about Anthony Davis as the center for the type of ball they wanted to play, and Stephen Curry has always been at the two in the top units (it makes sense in international ball where shooting is a premium). Early on Kyrie Irving was getting the start at the one but Derrick Rose’s play pushed him here, plus now with Durant out they need scoring and Rose brings that.
As for the final starting spot, and looking at the guys on the roster, there are only three clear options to me: Rudy Gay, Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons. None of those thrill me, but with Davis at the five and an up-tempo offense those are the fits (then you can bring in DeMarcus Cousins with the second unit and change tempo if you want).
Of that group, I’d probably start Parsons, his versatility is the best fit in my mind. But Coach K doesn’t have to make that decision yet — that’s what exhibitions like Saturday against Brazil are for. Roll out a lot of different combinations and see what clicks. The USA has a couple weeks of practices and a few exhibition games to figure things out before settling on a starting five.
By the way, that Rose is starting is a sign of how well he’s playing. Smile Chicago fans.
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.
NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.
The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.