Derrick Rose

USA Basketball cruises to exhibition win over Puerto Rico with final roster cuts looming

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NEW YORK — Team USA put together a sharp second half to pull away from Puerto Rico and comfortably cruise to a 112-86 victory in its final stateside exhibition, before heading to Spain in advance of the FIBA World Cup which is set to begin on Aug. 30.

There were some fine overall performances, most notably by Stephen Curry (20 points on 6-of-7 shooting) and Kenneth Faried (12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, five rebounds, two blocked shots in just over 12 minutes of action). But they were locks to make the final 12-man roster all along.

With final cuts looming and likely to come officially by Saturday morning, this exhibition was about looking at the players who were questionable. And a couple of interesting names, though unlikely to ultimately be cut, worked their way into the conversation by way of below-average performances.

Let’s start with what appears to be likely, which is that the four players who received DNP-CDs in this one — Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, and Damian Lillard — could have been a way of Krzyzewski foreshadowing what many believed would be happening all along.

But Drummond and DeRozan played well when they got their chance on Wednesday, so there’s at least a possibility that one or both could remain on the roster, especially with the team seeming to valuing size and scoring ability above all else.

Two guys that should make the team didn’t do much to impress against Puerto Rico, but that doesn’t mean that they’re now automatically candidates to be cut. DeMarcus Cousins was underwhelming defensively, and missed some easy buckets inside. It was a relatively rough outing from him, despite finishing with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, to go along with four rebounds (and four personal fouls) in just over 12 minutes of action. It appears as though the USA brain trust is waiting to see the best of what Cousins has to offer, but he has yet to show it in any of these games this summer.

And then, there’s Derrick Rose.

Rose started in the Chicago exhibition, and though his performance was uneven, he did put up a couple of signature highlights. He sat out of Wednesday’s contest and the practices leading up to it due to knee soreness, and came off the bench in this one, with Coach K opting to give Kyrie Irving the start at the point instead.

Rose made some nice passes and attempted to apply pressure on the perimeter defensively, but he has yet to show an ability to impact these games the way most were expecting. Rose finished with six points and four assists in just over 13 minutes of action off the bench, and though it’s unlikely he’d be cut due to this recent turn of events, it’s a definite possibility that Irving’s strong play may have placed him ahead of Rose on the depth chart at this stage of the proceedings.

We shouldn’t have to wait very long to hear who made it and who did not, and there will undoubtedly be those who second guess the decisions — which is something that Krzyzewski knows is just how this works.

“Like in anything, whatever we decide, we’ll be questioned,” he said, when asked about final cuts earlier this week.

Blazers C Meyers Leonard dunks on Celtics’ Mickey twice in five minutes (VIDEO)

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Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is an athletic young guy who has made a name for himself as a fade man off the pick-and-roll. But against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Leonard decided to roll to the hoop instead, and it sort of worked out.

Unless you’re Jordan Mickey, in which case it didn’t.

The first poster dunk came during the final minute of the first quarter in Boston, where the Blazers were running a sideline out of bounds play.

Via Twitter:

The second came at 9:51 in the second quarter, with Leonard again rolling to the rack on a play with Allen Crabbe. Mickey again wound up as the help man, and again found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel.

We’ll just forgive that off arm for now.

Jabari Parker held out of Bucks lineup vs. Heat for breaking team rule

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MIAMI (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday night at Miami after breaking a team rule.

Parker will play coming off the bench, coach Jason Kidd said.

Kidd declined to elaborate on the move, which came after the Bucks held a long players-only meeting following a loss Friday at Orlando. The meeting got heated at times, and Parker said he wasn’t well received when he expressed his point of view.

Parker has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Thon Maker, making his first career start.

Gregg Popovich on Trump: “Can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth” (VIDEO)

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Today across the country many hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump, his misogyny as demonstrated in prior comments made about women, and policies he’s promised to put in place to weaken women’s health including defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Affordable Care Act. Gregg Popovich, no stranger to speaking his mind about Trump, was asked about the marches today and how he felt about the former reality TV star’s first hours in office.

Popovich responded for around four minutes, spanning a wide breadth of topics including Trump’s maturity level, respect for the presidential office, and Trump’s cabinet members waffling on implied meaning when he insulted a handicapped reporter in November of 2015.

Via Cleveland.com:

I wish that he was more — had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying ‘I’m going to include everybody.” He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it, but so far we’ve got a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes of his mouth.

Popovich also expressed his frustration with Trump’s insecurities, referencing his need to discuss the size of the inauguration crowd from Friday — reported widely by major news outlets in both text and video/photographic evidence — as far smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.

“I’d just feel better if somebody was in that position that showed the maturity, psychological, and emotional level of somebody that was his age,” said Popovich, adding, “It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist, and make fun of handicap people.”

It’s an interesting period in American history to be sure. Things are at such a fever pitch after Trump’s election that whether people like it or not — and no doubt many won’t like Popovich’s comments or this article about it — the lines between diversion and real life, including politics, has begun to blur.

It’s great to see that coaches and players in the NBA are able to speak their minds about topics openly like this, perhaps surprisingly so when you consider the amount of money involved for the league and teams.

If you’d like to read the full comments you can do so here:

Ricky Rubio will miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio has left the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons and will miss at least the next game on Sunday against Denver.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says he expects Rubio to get back into town late Sunday and rejoin the team for practice on Monday.

Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night because of tightness in his left hip. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101.

Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the season, with the belief that Thibodeau would prefer a point guard who shoots better from the perimeter. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists.