Team USA Showcase

Team USA will make (potentially final) cuts Saturday


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 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

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.