Team USA Showcase

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

Spurs demolish Thunder to take Game 1 of second-round series

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs scores over Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.

Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?

Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.

It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.

Hawks get another playoff shot at King James and Cavaliers

at Philips Arena on April 1, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.

Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.

Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.

The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.

Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.

Report: Warriors to replace Luke Walton from outside the organization

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 12: Interim Coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors talks on the sideline during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 12, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.

Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.

Report: Luke Walton’s Lakers contract is for 5 years, $25 million

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Interim head coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors leads the team against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 112-110. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.

This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.