Author: Kurt Helin

Manu Ginobili

Spurs’ Manu Ginobili says he is “98% certain” his international playing career is over


The Spurs are not letting Manu Ginobili play for Argentina in the World Cup this summer. He is getting over a stress fracture, one he admitted was still bothering him during workouts, and the Spurs took the decision out of his hands and denied him the right to play (which they can do because of the injury).

That likely means the end of international play for the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer.

He said as much speaking with La Nacion paper in Argentina, as transcribed by Reuters.

“Today, I can say for almost certain, 98%, that I won’t play any more (for Argentina),” the 37-year-old said in an interview with the Buenos Aires daily La Nacion published on Saturday…

“If I’d played this tournament it would have been the last, that’s sure It’s hard and it always will be to retire from this (Argentina) team,” said Ginobili, a member of his country’s so-called golden generation.

There is a lot more pressure on international players such as Ginobili or Dirk Nowitzki or Tony Parker to play for their national teams than there is on American players. The fact is in the USA if one top player can’t go for whatever reason we fill in that spot with someone of quality — Paul George goes down and Rudy Gay gets added to the roster. No other country has that kind of depth. When Nowitzki or Parker chooses not to play for their countries, there is a dramatic drop off. They get pressured to play almost every summer.

But that takes a real toll on the bodies of these guys over time.

Ginobili may understand it’s time to walk away, but that’s different from actually walking away. It’s hard. He’s been at the heart of a team of guys — Pablo Prigioni, Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, Carlos Delfino — that brought a lot of glory to Argentinian basketball. Ginobili cares too much for this to be easy. Hence the two precent he left the door open.

But he gets the time has past.

Might Thunder look to reduce Kevin Durant’s minutes next season?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Orlando Magic

No player played more total minutes last season than Kevin Durant, 3,122 in the regular season, averaging 38.5 a night for 81 games. Then you can tack on another 815 minutes in 19 playoff games (almost 43 minutes a game).

Now Durant has pulled out of Team USA citing physical and mental exhaustion.

While you can count me in the group that thinks there is more at play than just that here, certainly the Thunder are asking a lot of their superstar. Maybe it’s time to back off the minutes for KD.

Darnell Mayberry at the Oklahoman makes that suggestion it is time to ease up on the MVP.

With 20,717 total (regular season minutes in seven seasons), Durant ranks 17th in minutes played among players in their first seven seasons. He’s logged the eighth most among seven-year veterans who made their debut after 1980. The seven ahead of him are James, Larry Bird, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Michael Finley, Andre Iguodala and Antoine Walker….

“As we go forward there’s no question that’s something we want to look at and understand,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said about Durant’s minutes at the end of the season. “Not only for the long term, but to also make sure we are getting the most out of the minutes that are played during one particular game or another…I can’t tell you what comes of it.”

The Thunder have one key reason they should be able to keep Durant’s minutes down next season — a healthy Russell Westbrook. He has missed almost half the season last year due to knee surgeries and that put added strain on Durant, this season Westbrook should be around the full season.

The Thunder again will be hesitant to sacrifice regular season wins in the middle of a tough Western conference, but it could come to that at times. The top coaches like Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers do it at points, and Scott Brooks is going to have to consider it.

Or, better yet, they could get quality depth and Brooks could trust it. What the best teams also do is get wins without just riding their stars every night.

Report: Pacers, shopping Roy Hibbert, called Pistons to talk Greg Monroe

John Loyer, Greg Monroe

This makes no sense for the Pistons, but ridiculous things do get offered around the league.

There’s been buzz around the league that the Pacers are testing the trade value of Roy Hibbert — they are in for a rough season and he can opt out next summer — and even called the Suns to talk about Goran Dragic. Hopefully the Suns brass were polite and hung up the phone before laughing at that offer.

Looks like the Pacers may have called the Pistons, too, according to Matt Dery of Detroit Sports radio 105.1.

This likely got about as far as the Dragic pitch.

Detroit’s main roster issue is that Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith can’t play well together because none of them can space the floor (although Smith thinks he can). Hibbert actually took 30 percent of his shots beyond 10 feet and hit a reasonable percentage of them, but bringing him in is not going to solve your floor spacing issues.

Plus the Pistons would have to take on more salary to do it. Then could lose Hibbert next summer anyway.

The one thing to take away from all this is that the Pacers are considering all their options right now. If they can find a partner with a good offer they will move anyone on the roster not named Paul George (or probably David West)

Remembering career of new Hall of Famer Sarunas Marciulionis (VIDEO)

2014 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

Sarunas Marciulionis was a groundbreaker.

It was partially that he was one of the first players coming out of the Soviet Union as it splintered, proving he could play in the NBA. More than that, he was one guy who came over at that time and stuck, proving he could play the NBA style.

He also was breaking ground because he would not fit a stereotype — this European guard was as physical and tough as anyone raised stateside. He could shoot the jumper but when he put the rock on the floor and drove the lane he was hunting for contact. Then he would finish through it.

Marciulionis was inshrined in the Hall of Fame Friday night on his international credentials — an Olympic gold medal with the USSR in 1988 then, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, he led the Lithuanian team to two bronze medals.

But he was an NBA trail blazer as well and here were we talk about The Association he should be remembered for that.

Mason Plumlee says of course he wants to start for Nets

Mason Plumlee, DeMarcus Cousins

Mason Plumlee is having a breakout summer, so much so that there is a chance the second-year center of the Nets could make the USA Basketball roster for Spain. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has been surprised and impressed by his play — which is saying something because Coach K saw him for four years at Duke.

He wants to carry that over to the NBA season and start for the Nets… except that starting center job belongs to Brook Lopez. Arguably the best offensive center in the NBA. A guy who missed most of last season with a broken foot but who will be back ready to go for training camp. Are you really going to start Plumlee at the four over Kevin Garnett (and take minutes away from Mirza Teletovic)?

Still you have to like what Plumlee told Mike Mazzo of

“Oh yeah,” Plumlee replied this week when asked if he wanted to start. “What player doesn’t wanna start?”

Nets coach Lionel Hollins was out in Las Vegas watching Plumlee during the first part of Team USA training camp a week ago. (A number of coaches with players on the roster were out to watch their charges.)

“[The Nets coaches] were out [there], they watched every [USA] practice out in [Las] Vegas, the whole staff was out there. They’re on the job, so if I don’t know [my roll on Nets], I’ll know soon.

“But [Lionel Hollins is] a very positive coach. He gave me something after each practice to look at. And then the same with, I met Paul Westphal, Jay Humphries, [John] Welch was out there. It was cool for me because they were doing the… I don’t know what you’d call it, their little coach’s retreat or whatever. I got to talk with them all week.”

Plumlee is going to play a big role for the Nets next season, that’s not in doubt. He averaged 18 minutes a game last season (started 22 games later in the year) and you can expect whether he starts or comes off the bench his minutes will jump to the mid 20s. Also, depending on match ups, he’ll get run at the four and the five.

One other note: because the Nets are deep up front, don’t be shocked when Plumlee’s name starts coming up in trade rumors — teams are going to call about him. The Nets aren’t going to be interested (unless some team comes in way over the top and blows their doors off) but they are going to get calls.