Dan Feldman

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 04:  Ian Mahinmi #28 of the Indiana Pacers and Nicolas Batum #5 of the Charlotte Hornets react after a play during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 4, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Ian Mahinmi out for France in Olympic qualifier

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France is the highest-ranked men’s basketball team that hasn’t already clinched a berth in the 2016 Olympics.

Now, its chances of winning its Olympic Qualifying Tournament have taken a major hit.

Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier and Ian Mahinmi won’t play, according their agent Bouna Ndiaye on France TV Sport (via E. Carchia of Sportando). Rudy Gobert is also out.

O. Cauchi of Sportando:

Jazz big-man Rudy Gobert said in an interview that he won’t play with France at the Pre-Olympic tournament in Manila. Gobert had several injuries this season and the Jazz want to keep him in Salt Lake in June to work on his body.

Batum, Fournier and Mahinmi are free agents – and will get major offers as the salary cap skyrockets. France’s qualifying tournament begins July 5, and free agents can’t sign until July 7. So, sitting out is the prudent financial move.

France still has a large pool of talent to draw from, including Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nando de Colo. But that might not be enough in the toughest qualifying tournament.

This opens the door a little wider for Canada and Turkey.

Rumor: DeMar DeRozan wants to sign with Lakers

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DeMar DeRozan said he wants to spend his whole career with the Raptors, and he said he’d let teammate Kyle Lowry dictate his free-agent decision.

But sometimes players get caught up in the moment and express loyalty to their team in a way that doesn’t reflect reality.

How does DeRozan really feel?

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, as transcribed by Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation:

“He’s made it very, very clear that he wants to be in L.A.,” Smith said of DeRozan’s intentions in free agency. “He has family out there. He’s from out there. He wants to be in L.A. He wants to wear the purple and gold, and if there’s a way for it to happen, again he’s restricted, if there’s a way for it to happen, DeMar DeRozan will be in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform next season.”

When DeRozan opts out this summer, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. So, if you want to dismiss the rest of Smith’s report because he got that fact wrong, I wouldn’t blame you. That might be the prudent approach.

But if Smith got the rest of this right, DeRozan will probably sign with the Lakers.

The Lakers were reportedly set to offer DeRozan a max contract – at least before his his playoff struggles, Game 5 notwithstanding. I’d guess DeRozan’s rough postseason won’t dissuade the Lakers, at least if they can’t lure bigger stars like Kevin Durant and LeBron James. DeRozan became a legitimate star during the regular season (a bigger sample), and Jim Buss needs a quick upgrade to keep his job.

Marcus Smart returning to USA select team

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 30:  Marcus Smart #49 of the 2014 USA Basketball Men's Select Team jokes around with ball boy Reagan Blanner, 11, during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 30, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Marcus Smart helped Team USA prepare for the 2014 World Cup.

He did so well, for the 2016 Olympics, he’ll… get to help Team USA prepare.

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told the Globe on Thursday that Smart, who just completed his second NBA season, will be invited to join the Select Team for a second time.

Smart joins the list of known selectteam members:

This was a fairly disappointing season for Smart. After really digging into opponents defensively as a rookie, Smart fell too in love with flopping this year. His 3-point percentage also dropped form 33% to 25%. That outweighs his moderate gains as a passer and in the mid-range.

The 22-year-old Smart is still a nice young player, but his chances of someday making an Olympic team don’t look as promising as when he was on the Americans’ under-18 and under-19 teams and on the select team two years ago.

That said, Smart is still in the pipeline, and this an opportunity for him to impress.

Thunder’s big problem against the Warriors

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 28: Steven Adams #12 and Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder run down the court during the fourth quarter of a NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at the Chesapeake Energy Center on October 28, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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The Thunder dominated San Antonio with their big two.

No, not Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Their BIG two.

Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.

Oklahoma City turned its second-round series against the Spurs by playing its two centers together – a lineup used in just 127 regular-season minutes and not at all in a Game 1 blowout loss to San Antonio. Starting in Game 2 against the Spurs, Adams and Kanter took over. In the series:

  • Thunder with Adams and Kanter on the floor: +27 in 66 minutes
  • Thunder otherwise: -30 in 222 minutes

Oklahoma City outscored San Antonio by 21.8 points per 100 possessions with Adams and Kanter sharing the floor, making it the most effective of the team’s 25 most-used two-man units in the series. Durant and Westbrook (+4.0) didn’t come close.

When Adams and Kanter played together, the Thunder grabbed 45.1% of available offense rebounds and 84.1% of available defensive rebounds – marks that would’ve led the NBA by miles.

The duo dictated the series.

But can Adams and Kanter sustain that success against the Warriors in the conference finals?

Golden State is just so much better equipped to expose Oklahoma City’s weaknesses – namely, speed – with Adams and Kanter on the floor.

The Spurs scored just 15 fastbreak points in 66 minutes against Adams and Kanter, which is right in line with their 14 fastbreak points per 66 minutes in regular season (27th in NBA).

The Warriors led the NBA with 28 fastbreak points per 66 minutes during the regular season. They were built to run, and Oklahoma City – which turned the ball over a lot during Adams-Kanter minutes – will provide opportunities. Can Adams and Kanter keep up in transition?

What about even against Golden State’s halfcourt offense, which features plenty of movement to create open looks on the perimeter?

San Antonio shot 9-for-28 (32%) on 3-pointers in its 66 minutes against Adams and Kanter. Warriors regular-season average per 66 minutes on 3s: 18-for-43 (42%).

One of Adams and Kanter – likely Kanter – can guard Andrew Bogut against the Warriors’ starting lineup. But that means the other must cover Draymond Green, who excels on the perimeter. Even if Adams can hold his own away from the basket, pulling him away leaves Kanter as the last line of defense – a scary proposition for Oklahoma City.

And then Golden State will go small.

When Green and Harrison Barnes are the bigs, there will be nowhere to hide Adams and Kanter. The Warriors will run and move the ball, and if history is any indication, Adams and Kanter will be lost. That Stephen CurryKlay ThompsonAndre Iguodala-Barnes-Green lineup has run plenty of centers off the floor. It could wreak havoc on two.

Adams and Kanter will still create problems. The Thunder will probably dominate the offensive glass, and they’ll grab a high percentage of defensive rebounds – though that matters far less if Golden State doesn’t miss.

Report: Magic had mixed reaction to Scott Skiles resigning

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31: Scott Skiles the head coach of the Orlando Magic gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Though the Magic might not have wanted to keep Scott Skiles long-term, his resignation yesterday truly seems like his decision. All accounts suggest this wasn’t the team firing him and framing it in a kinder way. Skiles walked way.

But not everyone in Orlando was sad to see him go.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Within the Magic organization on Thursday, there were some officials livid with Skiles for abruptly resigning his job one season into a four-year contract. Some guys really went to bat for him to get the job here, a source there told me today. Others in the Magic hierarchy, they were relieved Skiles was gone. Every day was a battle with him. He was more intrigued with the roster when he signed his contract than once he started coaching the team.

One source of discord: Elfrid Payton. General manager Rob Hennigan is reportedly far more sold on the point guard than Skiles.

There were surely other fissures in an organization that appeared to be fractured.

The question now: Is it still fractured?

A mixed reaction to Skiles’ departure shows one issue where remaining members of the organization differ.

Disagreement can be productive, and Hennigan said he thought his debates with Skiles were healthy. Skiles clearly felt otherwise. (Hennigan might also feel otherwise, but he said what he said.)

So, there’s nothing inherently wrong with different people within the organization reacting differently to yesterday’s news. At best, they’ll come together, discuss what they liked and disliked about Skiles and gain perspective to use when hiring a new coach.

But at worst, this is a sign of deeper philosophical differences that will undermine progress.