Author: Kurt Helin

Team USA Showcase

DeMarcus Cousins not expected to play for Team USA vs. Brazil Saturday

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DeMarcus Cousins could have make a great case for his inclusion on Team USA for the World Cup on Saturday — he would be one of the USA’s reserve big men and the USA’s going to have to deal with Brazil’s front line of Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao.

But after banging knees with Kenneth Faried on Thursday Cousins was on the court Friday taking jump shots. Still limping a little, but taking jump shots, according to reports out of practice.

Don’t expect him to play on Saturday against Brazil, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.

I still expect Cousins to make the cut. He looked good in the Vegas exhibition and showed flashes over the week in Vegas (when he runs the floor hard with this group everything gets easier, he just needs to do it consistently).

The question out of Saturday (and this week of practice) is how much Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee and Kenneth Faried helped their causes. Expect Coach Mike Krzyzewski to take his time, watch these guys through the week of practices and games in New York, before making his decision.

Tweet of the Day: Nick Young explains why there’s no ink on his right arm

Nick Young

You gotta love Swaggy P.

Nick Young will be back with the Lakers next season, providing plenty of entertainment as he guns to his heart’s content… until Kobe Bryant tells him to cut it out.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Scott sets up the rotations. Kobe Bryant’s gotta be fed. You can start Kobe and Young at the two/three but that’s going to take up a lot of shots… not that you really want Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer to be the offensive focal points. But there are some challenges.

I think the Lakers are going to be a pretty entertaining team. One that loses a lot of games, but entertaining.

Coach K says expect a lot more guard play from Team USA without Kevin Durant

Team USA Practice Session

In Chicago for the second round of Team USA training camp, coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted he didn’t see Kevin Durant leaving the team coming. Durant officially cited mental and physical exhaustion, whether you believe that or think there was another reason is kind of moot to Coach K. He has to deal with the aftermath.

The USA offense was going to be focused around Durant, so now what?

More guard play, Krzyzewski told’s Hangtime Blog.

“We had a whole camp building what we’re doing around him,” Krzyzewski said. “So that’s the very first thing: You had one of the great scorers at the [power forward position]. So how does that change your offense? That changes your offense immensely.

“You have to do more to get your guards shots. I mean, these guards are really good, but they were complementing one another – Kevin with those guards. … Now we have to look at developing our inside and getting the guards more involved.”

The USA’s game starts with an aggressive pressure defense trying to force turnovers then get out in transition — the USA has the best, deepest pool of athletes playing hoop in the world, use that to your advantage.

But in the half court the scoring will be a little harder to come by. The USA has shooters — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving is one of the league’s best shooters off the bounce and Kyle Korver one of the best at the catch-and-shoot — but it’s going to take some execution to get everyone open looks. The ball still needs to work inside out, whether that starts with Derrick Rose driving the lane or hitting Anthony Davis in the post.

Even without Durant the USA is as talented as anyone at the FIBA World Cup. They are still gold medal contenders.

But you don’t replace someone like Kevin Durant.

Paul George says he will bounce back, wants to play for Team USA in Brazil Olympics

Team USA Showcase

Paul George is a guy that worked too hard to get here to just roll over. He was overlooked coming out of high school in Palmdale, undervalued coming out of college at Fresno State, and now he’s an All-Star NBA player. He got there with some natural gifts and an impressive work ethic to hone those skills every offseason, then to play hard every night.

That’s not the kind of guy to let an injury stop him.

George met with the media in Indianapolis for the first time since his horrific injury breaking his tibia and fibula in a USA Basketball exhibition game in Las Vegas. All he talked about was coming back. Here are some highlights, via Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and Michael Lee of the Washington Post.

USA Basketball came under a lot of criticism in the wake of the injury — from where the stanchions were placed to the demands on players time — but George was having none of it.

Meaning he wants to be on Team USA in 2016 when the plane heads to Rio for the Olympics.

As for talking about the injury itself:

I’d be shocked if we saw George back on the court next season. Aside the basic healing timeline, even if he pushed to get back for the end of the season this is not going to be a Pacers’ season he wants to rejoin. They are in for a tough year.

But when he comes back in the fall of 2015, watch out.

Fellow Kentucky Wildcat Rajon Rondo was Nerlens Noel’s “biggest helper” through rehab

nerlens noel summer league1

Early prediction time: I’m picking Nerlens Noel to win Rookie of the Year. After seeing him play at Summer League, after he got that “Blake Griffin year” to be around the league without playing, with the touches he’ll get in Philadelphia, he’s my preseason call.

Noel would not be bouncing back like this without more than a year of hard work in the gym and on the court at rehab.

That can be a long, solitary process. In a fascinating Q&A with James Herbert of’s Eye on Basketball (go read the entire thing) Noel said it was fellow Kentucky Wildcat Rajon Rondo who was reaching out and being supportive.

Noel: With all the support and love, certain guys, especially Rajon Rondo — he was definitely the biggest helper through this whole process, he actually gave me his phone number and told me I could hit him up whenever about it. Being from Boston, watching him growing up, and he went through it and he came back as strong as possible, actually before me, so it gave me a lot of confidence, having his good faith.

Q: Is that kind of crazy, being a Celtics fan growing up, to get to know him on a personal level?

Noel: Yeah, definitely. That’s definitely what made it even more of a thrill. Being able to interact with Rondo and get good advice from him, ’cause he’s more of a veteran point guard now in this league, gone through so much with the Big 3, he’s a world champion, he’s a player who’s very mature in this league now. So definitely, it was crazy. I took a lot from him.

Good on Rondo. It would have been easy to do the perfunctory “hey, get better kid” text and put Noel out of his mind, but Rondo was genuine.

And somewhere, three more recruits just committed to John Calipari.