What four players left likely to get cut from Team USA roster? Things don’t look good for Andre Drummond.

19 Comments

The math is pretty simple: There are still 16 guys on the Team USA roster as they head to New York for a week of training camp and “friendlies.” There can only be 12 guys on the roster when Team USA opens play in Spain for the World Cup on Aug. 30. Four guys have to go.

So who gets cut?

Let’s work this in reverse: Coach Mike Krzyzewski seemed to have an eight man rotation that he likes based on who played Saturday night vs. Brazil. That rotation has Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis as the starters. (Even if Faried ultimately does not start he seems a lock to make the team now.) After that five Klay Thompson, Rudy Gay and Kyrie Irving got big minutes. Those eight guys seem a lock and are guys who will get regular minutes.

After that Mason Plumlee got 15 minutes at the end of the game and played well (he shot 3-of-3). Chandler Parsons played five minutes, Kyle Korver three and Damian Lillard two.

DeMarcus Cousins did not play but he is a seeming lock to make the roster at this point. Plumlee got minutes to see if he should be the one more big on the roster.

Who was healthy and did not play? Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan and Gordon Hayward. All three of those guys have performed well in practice but the fact they didn’t make the court is not a good sign for the future. I expect those three will be cut. (Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press sees it the same way for Drummond.)

The fourth cut will come down to Coach K’s thinking. I think Parsons is a lock to stay because he can play as a stretch four and that is needed (he is why Gordon is in trouble, Parsons is a better version of a similar player in terms of positioning).

So does Krzyzewski keep Plumlee to have one more big on the roster to match up better with Spain, and with that cut one of the two shooters in Korver and Lillard, or does he cut the big man and keep the shooters? I don’t think that answer is set yet. That said, my guess is one of the shooters goes. From what I saw in Las Vegas at camp I would guess Lillard, but that is just a hunch.

Nothing is set in stone yet, a good week of practice and games could change the dynamic for Drummond or DeRozan or anyone. But the eight man rotations seems set, and Cousins may join that eight once his knee recovers (he is expected to play in this week’s tune up games).

That leaves everyone else is on the bubble.

LeBron James: Resting became a problem only because I’m involved

Harry How/Getty Images
1 Comment

1. The Cavaliers rested LeBron James against the Clippers on Saturday (and also sat Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love).

2. NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to teams threatening to crack down on how they rest players.

How related are those events?

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“I love what Adam is doing for our league but I don’t see how that (would help),” James said Tuesday. “I don’t understand why it’s become a problem now, because I sit out a couple games?”

When a reporter suggested to James that Silver’s reasons for sending the memo may stretch beyond his not playing in Cleveland’s 30-point loss in a national TV game Saturday, James disagreed.

“That is the case. It’s absolutely the case,” James insisted.

And when it was mentioned that the week before, in a game that, like the Cavs’ loss to the Clippers was televised on ABC, Warriors coach Steve Kerr sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala from a game against the Spurs, James said: “Come on, man. You guys know the real.”

“Listen, Pop’s been doing this for 10 years, 12 years, 15 years and everybody was like, ‘You know what? That’s the smartest thing Pop has ever done,” James said. “Give his guys a couple games off and here they go and win five championships. That’s the smartest thing.’

But some of our coaches in our league don’t have the stature that Pop has and our head coach doesn’t have it so he gets killed for it. So, I got to keep winning to help my coach be able to have a reason why he can sit his players.”

Gregg Popovich resting players got the Spurs fined $250,000 in 2012. The San Antonio coach certainly hasn’t drawn universal lauding for his resting strategy.

This remains a contentious issue, and the battle lines aren’t drawn around LeBron – at least not as much as he suggests here.

The same people who praise Popovich for resting players supported Tyronn Lue (and Steve Kerr and every other coach who has rested players). The same people upset about LeBron resting were also bothered by Popovich resting players. LeBron is comparing two disparate sets of observers.

That said, there is a difference with LeBron involved.

This hasn’t taken on an enhanced profile because other coach’s lack Popovich’s stature. It’s because LeBron is such a big star.

LeBron attracts attention unlike any Spur, and when he sits, ratings suffer. The league’s TV partners dislike teams resting players, and those companies are paying enough to have their voices heard. LeBron – the NBA’s highest-profile star since Michael Jordan – resting adds urgency, but this issue has been percolating for years.

This didn’t suddenly become a problem because of LeBron. He was just the spark that turned an occasional issue into one that suddenly feels much more pressing.

Russell Westbrook becomes first player with triple-double and perfect shooting

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

Triple-doubles have become more commonplace than ever – especially by Russell Westbrook, who already has 35 this season.

So, Westbrook’s 21 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in the Thunder’s win over the 76ers tonight might not seem earthshattering.

But also consider that he went 6-for-6 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line.

ESPN Stats & Info:

James Harden had an awesome game-winner and quote earlier this week. Now, Westbrook responds with this historic triple-double.

This is an all-time great MVP race.

Chris Paul’s son joins him on Clippers bench in rout of Lakers (video)

1 Comment

Is this disrespectful to the Lakers? Absolutely.

And I love it.

Chris Paul and the Clippers crushed their Los Angeles counterparts, 133-109, last night. The Clippers, who’ve won 13 of 14 in the series, have practically run out of ways to show up their crosstown rival on the court. If it now takes bench visitors, so be it.

This is the best late-blowout bench behavior since LeBron James led the Cavaliers in the water-bottle challenge in a December win over the Knicks. This would rank higher if Chris Jr. didn’t also joined the bench in the Clippers’ November win over the Mavericks, which is the pictured on this post.

Jawun Evans leaving Oklahoma State for NBA draft

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
1 Comment

You’ve probably heard of the top college point guards for the 2017 NBA draft: Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. You might have even heard of French point guard prospect Frank Ntilikina.

Which point guard will be drafted next after those six?

One possibility: Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans.

Evan Daniels of Scout:

Evans looks like a second-round pick, but a dearth of point guards projected into the latter half of the first round could boost his stock.

He’s ultra quick and ultra aggressive and led the nation’s top KenPom offense. Evans relentlessly attacks the rim, often while forcing transition opportunities. That gets defenses scrambled, creating kickout-passing lanes and offensive-rebound opportunities.

However, the 6-foot Evans doesn’t finish that well at the rim – creating a major question about how he’ll translate to the NBA. The bigger defenders in the paint might limit his kickout passes, too.

His size also presents major problems defensively, though a 6-foot-4 wingspan at least helps.

Evans is good enough on jumpers to keep defenses honest, and at Oklahoma State, he had to create so much for himself. It’d be interesting to see whether limiting his burden improves his efficiency or whether his helpfulness is limited to having the ball in his hands.

My guess is the latter, and I’m unconvinced he’s good enough to demand such a role in the NBA. But the possibility is strong enough that I’d be excited about rolling the dice on him in the second round.