Team USA will make (potentially final) cuts Saturday

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Andrew Wiggins can be traded Saturday, allowing the Cavaliers and Timberwolves to complete the long-anticipated Kevin Love deal (with the 76ers also participating).

That won’t be the only NBA news of the day.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com that team officials, after initially weighing the prospect of announcing some roster moves before Thursday’s practice, will huddle late into the night after Friday evening’s exhibition against Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden to finalize the roster decisions that can be delayed no longer.

The players who aren’t selected will be notified of their fates Saturday morning, Colangelo said, with the rest of the traveling party heading directly to Europe on a team charter in the afternoon.

The bad news, as always, will be delivered face-to-face to the unlucky twosome, trio or quartet first by Colangelo, which is a chore he describes as “distasteful” but a step he regards as “my personal responsibility.”

And we say twosome, trio or quartet because Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski are still deciding whether to take 12, 13 or even 14 of the 16 players currently in camp to Spain to buy an extra week of evaluation time, since the roster doesn’t have to be officially sliced to 12 for the World Cup until Aug. 29.

As a reminder, here are the 16 players contending for the final 12 roster spots:

  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Stephen Curry
  • Anthony Davis
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Andre Drummond
  • Kenneth Faried
  • Rudy Gay
  • James Harden
  • Gordon Hayward
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Kyle Korver
  • Damian Lillard
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Mason Plumlee
  • Derrick Rose
  • Klay Thompson

    Curry, Harden, Faried, Davis, Rose and Irving have started exhibition games, so they’re in good shape. Plumlee and Klay Thompson are Mike Krzyzewski favorites, putting both players in good spots.

Beyond those eight, the remaining four spots are up for grabs. I think DeMarcus Cousins has demonstrated enough, and his injury gives Team USA room to pick him and Plumlee for center depth. Gay has USA Basketball experience, and he’s impressed as the carefully chosen Kevin Durant replacement. I also believe Damian Lillard, regardless of Team USA’s fill of NBA point guards, is too talented to keep off the roster.

That leaves Korver, Parsons, Hayward, Drummond and DeRozan for one spot – and that’s the order I’d list their chances. Either Parsons or Hayward could give Team USA another stretch four, but if necessary Gay could handle that job alone. That would allow the luxury of using Korver as a designated shooter. Drummond can’t fall that far out of the mix at center, though I think he ultimately falls short.

Rose’s injury could throw a loop into the equation, but here’s my best guess at the final roster after cuts tomorrow and maybe more later:

  • Point guard: Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving
  • Shooting guard: Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard
  • Small forward: James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver
  • Power forward: Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay
  • Center: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee

Damian Lillard talks about his “no pressure” pitch to Carmelo Anthony, selling Portland

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Self-made, over-achieving players in the NBA tend not to be the recruiters. They worked hard and made it to where they are more on their own, and their world-view follows that path. Think Derrick Rose in Chicago.

Damian Lillard was one of those guys, but he has done a little recruiting of late — he reached out to Carmelo Anthony last week. Lillard told Chris Mannix of NBC Radio (who is filling in for Dan Patrick for the day on his national radio show) that it wasn’t really the John Calipari hard-sell.

“It wasn’t really a pitch, I just reached out to him and let him know the interest just wasn’t from our front office, if there was a possibility there was definitely interest from the players as well, and I didn’t want that to be confused,” Lillard said on the radio show. “I didn’t put no pressure on him or ask him a bunch of questions, I just said what it was from our end.”

That is nice, but Anthony reportedly has focused in on Houston, and might settle for Cleveland (if there was a deal to be had). Would ‘Melo waive his no-trade clause to head to Portland?

“I didn’t get a sense that he wouldn’t,” Lillard said in a tepid response. “What we have here is a good situation for him and that’s just kind of where it went. I let him know what I thought he could do for our team and what our team could do with his presence. And that was it. We didn’t go over no details or talk about a no trade clause or nothing like that. He’s gonna make his own decision to do that or not, I just want to make sure we had some kind of a conversation.”

It’s a start. It’s likely not enough. Anthony wants to go somewhere and chase a ring, and despite what C.J. McCollum thinks, Portland with ‘Melo isn’t a contender. Even with Anthony, I would have them sixth in the West, maybe fifth at best (Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, and probably Minnesota are better still). And this is assuming Portland can find a team to take on Myers Leonard’s contract to make a deal work.

What Lillard wanted to get across was that Portland is a great place to be an NBA player.

“I think people talk about what it would be like in Portland or to play in Portland, but actually having lived here, I live here year-round, so I know it’s a great place to live,” Lillard said. “Some of the best food in the United States. You talk about loving the game of basketball, our team and the soccer team are all the city has, so we get a lot of support and our fans really back our team and are really passionate about our team. That type of environment, and that type of love and support around the city, what NBA player wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

Jimmer Fredette re-signing in China

AP Photo/George Bridges
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Jimmer Fredette played well in China last year, and buzz even emerged about him re-joining the NBA after the Chinese season ended in March. Never happened.

Even in the offseason, when every NBA team had open roster spots, nobody stateside has signed Fredette.

So, he’s returning to the Shanghai Sharks.

Fredette:

Fredette retains a cult following in America, but not the talent of an NBA player. He can score plenty in a lesser league, but his game doesn’t fit with better players on the floor.

Perhaps, he could’ve gotten a training-camp invite, maybe even with a small guarantee. But would’ve faced an uphill battle sticking into the regular season. Better for him to lock into a bigger salary in China now.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder ‘officially circling each other’

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Carmelo Anthony prefers to be traded to the Rockets. He might soon be traded to the Rockets.

Are the Thunder trying to interject themselves before it’s too late?

Bill Simmons of The Ringer:

Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver was an assistant coach at Syracuse when Anthony played there. Weaver is also well-connected in the Washington area (D.C./Maryland/Virginia). I’m not sure how much that means to Anthony, who grew up in Baltimore – in many ways, a different world from the DMV (which includes only parts of Maryland and Virginia closer to D.C.). Still, Weaver and Anthony at least share their Syracuse connection.

The problem: An Oklahoma City trade for Anthony would almost have to include Steven Adams (way more valuable than Anthony) and/or Enes Kanter (way less valuable than Anthony). There’s no easy way to bridge either gap, especially considering how much the Thunder need Adams’ interior presence.

Here’s my best stab at a workable framework for a trade, via ESPN’s trade machine:

screenshot-www.espn.com-2017-07-24-12-26-16

The Clippers would get a more-skilled backup center while just shuffling bad contracts (at least that’s how it seems they view Wesley Johnson‘s deal). The Thunder would still need to send the Knicks more assets (Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant and/or draft picks). The Knicks would get a veteran point guard in Austin Rivers while Frank Ntilikina develops and, more importantly, additional young assets. It’s just a matter of determining whether there’s an overlap in the picks Oklahoma City would trade and New York would receive. That window might be tight – or not exist.

Adding Paul George and Anthony to a team led by Russell Westbrook would be exciting. I’m just not sure it’s realistic.

Rumor: Knicks likely to trade Carmelo Anthony to Rockets this week

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After numerous starts and stops and starts and stops, maybe the Knicks will actually trade Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets soon?

Tarek Fattal of the Los Angeles Daily News:

So, they found a third team to take Ryan Anderson or a fourth team to take Meyers Leonard?

If true, that’d please at least Anthony.

There’s room for a trade to work. New York is clearly ready to move on from Anthony, and Houston wants him to join James Harden and Chris Paul. The Rockets can add sweeteners to convince another team – or maybe even the Knicks – to take a bad contract in the trade.

But this has dragged on so long, I need more evidence the deal is actually close before I believe it.