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.

Report: Cavaliers signing Kendrick Perkins

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Kendrick Perkins spent fewer than four months with the Cavaliers, including the 2015 playoffs. But nearly a year later after Cleveland let Perkins walk in free agency, LeBron James was still bemoaning Perkins’ absence.

Are the Cavs righting a wrong?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Kendrick Perkins joined the Cavaliers at LeBron James’ minicamp in Santa Barbara, Calif., and will come to training camp next week, sources told cleveland.com.

The Cavs now have 18 players with standard contracts, and 15 – the regular-season limit – have guaranteed salaries. I doubt Cleveland wants to waive the two without guaranteed salaries, Kay Felder and Edy Tavares, either.

In other words, Perkins is a longshot to stick into the regular season.

Perkins was washed up when with the Cavaliers two years ago. The 32-year-old who sat out last season hasn’t produced on the court in several years. He’s tough and well-liked in the locker room, which might give him a chance of sneaking onto the regular-season roster.

But the Cavs should focus on developing toughness and chemistry among their rotation players. Perkins is just a crutch, most likely one who’ll be yanked away by cut-down day a few weeks from now.

Report: Lakers sell jersey ad for $36M-$42M over three years

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The Lakers are a financial behemoth, though that’s tied to a local-TV deal signed when they were still good.

How do current conditions value their brand?

John Lombardo and Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Daily

The Lakers have signed a jersey patch deal with S.F.-based e-commerce company Wish. The three-year agreement, according to a source, is between $12-14M annually

That’s the second-richest known jersey-ad deal – behind only the Warriors ($20 million annually) and ahead of the Cavaliers ($10 million annually).

It clearly pays to be Los Angeles, though don’t discount the role of the Lakers’ fantastic history and intriguing future.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony to accept trade to Trail Blazers if Knicks and Rockets don’t strike deal

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Carmelo Anthony trade talks between the Knicks and Rockets appear to be going nowhere.

Yet, Anthony’s camp is reportedly cautiously optimistic he’ll get dealt by Monday.

This might explain why.

Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports:

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have recruited Anthony to Portland. The Trail Blazers have plenty of expendable players who could be aggregated to matching Anthony’s salary – Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis – plus lower-paid players to give New York value. This certainly looks plausible.

It’d make sense for Anthony to hold out as long as possible for Houston, his ideal destination. He can use his no-trade clause to force the Knicks to deal with only the Rockets.

But what if that fails?

I’m skeptical New York, Portland and Anthony all agree to a deal. There are just too many sides to please.

The Knicks will need more than just bad contracts to move Anthony, and the Trail Blazers don’t need more scoring enough to relinquish significant assets. Anthony would also have to approve, and as miserable as the Knicks have been, the New York market still matters.

Again, this is plausible, but I’m doubtful. Either way, we should know soon with training camp around the corner.

LeBron James reportedly “invested” in helping Derrick Rose get next big contract

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Reality smacked Derrick Rose across the face last summer.

Last season, the former MVP made $21.3 million in the final year of a five-year rookie contract extension, and while injuries had slowed his game he was playing better. Combine that with seeing the drunken sailor spending spree the previous summer, and he was hoping for — if not a max contract — still a healthy eight digit one. Instead, he signed a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, $2.1 million, to play for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James wants to see his man Rose get paid again, Dave McMenamin of ESPN said on The Jump.

“I’ve heard that for the first couple of days, Derrick Rose has been ‘killing it.’ I’ve also heard that LeBron is invested in Derrick Rose’s career so that he can get that next contract.”

The first part of that, the “killing it” part, you can just throw out. Maybe Rose looks great at the mini-camp LeBron is hosting for the Cavs in Santa Barbara, I hope he is, but preseason everybody is “killing it” or “has lost/gained 15 pounds and is in the best shape of his life” or “has worked hard and now has an impressive jump shot.” Rose probably does look great in Cavaliers camp against Jose Calderon, let’s see how he looks once he has to go up against real NBA players.

Rose’s next contract will be interesting. Maybe LeBron can set him up to look better this season, but it’s going to be on Rose mostly. Once healthy (whenever that is), Isaiah Thomas will be the starting point guard in Cleveland, plus as always LeBron James will have the ball in his hands a lot. (Which he should, he’s the best player on the planet.) But that means Rose needs to learn to work off the ball with LeBron more, and when LeBron (and eventually Thomas) sit, Rose needs to take over and show he can get a team buckets for a 5-7 minute stretch. Do that and he has a role that will get him some money. I’m not sold Rose can do much more than that at this point in his career.

How much money Rose will get is another issue. It’s going to be a tight market next year where only a few teams have much money to spend, and Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Cory Joseph, and maybe Rajon Rondo (depending on how he does in New Orleans) will be higher on team’s boards than Rose.

But if LeBron is “invested” that could help Rose make a little more green next season.