Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry says he plans to play for Team USA in World Cup, Tokyo Olympics

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After leading the Warriors to their second straight Finals and battling injuries through the playoffs, Stephen Curry begged out of the Rio Olympics, staying home to rest. Team USA did just fine without him.

But Curry still wants a gold medal to go with his NBA ring and MVP trophies. He spoke to FIBA.com recently and said he plans to play in both the next World Cup and Olympics, if possible.

“Going forward, I do plan on playing at the World Cup (in 2019 in China), being healthy and being in a good position to be in Tokyo.”

As for not playing in Rio…

“The way it went down this past year with the injury, it was the right decision,” Curry said to FIBA.com in his hometown of Charlotte, where he recently played for the Golden State Warriors against the Hornets. “It was a tough one because I put a lot of equity into playing for Team USA and was looking forward to playing for the Olympic team for the first time.

“The decision for me personally was that it was best not to play, and to get ready for the season, to get healthy.”

Curry wasn’t alone in that decision, but the structure put in place USA Basketball CEO and coach Mike Krzyzewski meant Team USA had the depth to overcome the losses (LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, James Harden, Blake Griffin, and on and on) and still have quality players who understood the system. The USA still won gold.

However, Curry has to be thinking a little about his basketball legacy, and he will want a gold medal to be part of that. New USA coach Gregg Popovich will welcome his shooting to Team USA going forward, Curry is the perfect example of the kind of American player the rest of the world both does not have and does not know how to cover.

What will be interesting for the USA is the run-up to the World Cup, which is one year later and just a year before the Olympics. FIBA has changed the qualifying dates and some conflict with the NBA schedule, which means D-League players will be part of the effort to qualify. The USA is not alone in this, all the world’s top leagues run on roughly the same schedule as the NBA.

Charlotte reserve guard Ramon Sessions out with meniscus tear, no timetable set yet

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Ramon Sessions has been what the Hornets expected from him this season: A solid, shot creating (although mostly for himself) backup point guard behind Kemba Walker who can hold things down while the All-Star gets some rest. He’s not bringing what Jeremy Lin did a season ago, but he’s been fine bringing 6.2 points per game.

Now the Hornets will need to get by without him — he has a meniscus tear in his left knee and he is going to miss some time. From the Hornets’ official release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Ramon Sessions has been diagnosed with a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee. Sessions will be listed as out for tomorrow’s game against the Utah Jazz and he will be reevaluated upon returning to Charlotte. 

Sessions is going to miss much more than one game. How long he will be out depends on if surgery is required.

This means Brian Roberts will get more run backing up Walker in the short term.

The Hornets have lost six in a row and have fallen out of the playoffs if they were to start today. The team is already without Cody Zeller (who will miss Saturday’s game as well), which was the reason they traded for Miles Plumlee.

PBT Extra: Lakers bring in Magic Johnson, but will that change team direction?

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Magic Johnson is back with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Right now that is in an “advisor to the owners” role next to Jeanie Buss, but his influence likely will grow. As Jim Buss’ fades. That is the topic of this latest PBT Extra.

Intentionally or not, the Lakers have tanked the past two seasons (drafting second and landing D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram) while selling the Kobe farewell tour. Now that Kobe is gone the Laker development is forefront, and it is slow. How good this Lakers’ core can ultimately be is something we will not know for sure for years, however, Jim Buss promised the Lakers would be back to contending (or at least the second round) by this season. Buss is the favored son of the legendary Jerry Buss who the father left in charge of basketball operations. Magic has been a regular critic of Buss, and the buzz is the other siblings in the Buss trust (there are six total, including Jim and Jeanie) are none-to-thrilled with Jim’s job performance and work ethic. Buss is in trouble.

But where is Magic going to take this team? Superstars are not just walking through that door anymore just because of the Laker brand, there needs to be a foundation. Under Magic, will the Lakers completely abandon their slow build plan and trade quality assets for good-but-not-great veterans who can get them more wins now? Essentially becoming the Isiah Thomas Knicks?

It should be a concern for Lakers fans.

Report: Cavaliers “backing far away” from Carmelo Anthony trade

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Kevin Love is not completely off the table. There are maybe 10 guys in the entire NBA for which there is no price to make a trade work. However, Love falls into that next tier of “in theory you can get him but in reality there is no way another team would actually give up enough to make a deal.”

Carmelo Anthony is not enough. Not close. No sane GM is moving a 28-year-old, at his peak Love for 33-year-old and declining Anthony.

And the Cavaliers are not interested in a Love for ‘Melo swap, reports Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the Cavs’ thinking are also backing far away from a potential trade for Anthony. It doesn’t mean a deal for Anthony is entirely out of the question. Just mostly out.

That hesitancy stems from this: Teams never want to completely close the door, just in case. At this time of the year (and through much of the season) teams talk all the time to each other, gauging interest and value of their players and others. There is a Mississippi River of talk between teams, what becomes public is the cups of that water media members dip in and pull out. For teams, never say never, they never know what might develop. The story on this deal covers this.

So a deal for Love would have to make the Cavs better. Who they could acquire for Love and his huge contract that would actually improve the team is a small group. In fact, the Cavs would be more likely to seek multiple, gifted role players in return for Love who could play behind LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, instead of alongside them.

While the Cavs will not rule out trading Love (the only player entirely off limits, in any scenario, is James), several sources said it’s highly unlikely he’s moved by the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

Love is going to be a Cavalier after the deadline and heading into the playoffs. I could concoct some fantasy basketball trade scenario where Cleveland would move Love, but nobody makes those trades in the real world.

The Cavaliers have brought in Jordan Farmar, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a minor deal. Just don’t expect a blockbuster.

As for the Knicks, they will keep looking but I’d be very surprised if they can find a deal for Anthony by the Feb. 23 deadline. Which will make Krisptaps Porzingis happy.

Hawks’ Taurean Prince, Heat’s James Johnson each fined $25,000 for altercation

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I expected a suspension to come out of this, but the NBA’s punishments remain a game of roulette.

Atlanta forward Taurean Prince has been fined $25,000 by the league for his brutal flagrant foul II against Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, throwing the Heat center to the ground. Prince was ejected for that play, as he should have been.

Miami’s James Johnson also got a $25,000 fine from the league for “escalating the situation in retaliation by throwing a forearm into the chest of Prince.” Which is accurate.

But does anyone blame Johnson? You know his teammates loved that, and Whiteside has offered to pay Johnson’s fine.