Tag: Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green teammates USA Basketball exhibition Thursday in Las Vegas


After what happened last year at the USA Basketball meaningless exhibition game in Las Vegas — the Paul George injury — nobody should be shocked that a lot of the big names you can expect to see playing in 2016 at the Rio Olympics begged out of the USA Basketball exhibition game at the end of traning camp on Thursday.

So few players wanted to take part a handful of guys who were not part of the regular camp had to be called in to play in the game.

Still, there’s some star power out there.

USA Basketball announced the rosters for the showcase, as reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Blue Team (Monty Williams, coach):

Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Victor Oladipo, and Elfrid Payton.

White Team (Tom Thibodeau, coach):

Arron Afflalo, Michael Carter-Williams, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, Terrance Jones, Kawhi Leonard, Mason Plumlee, Klay Thompson, C.J. Watson.

I’ll pick the White Team, for two reasons. First is, I like that roster better — Cousins on the inside, Green and Leonard playing defense, Griffin owning everyone, and Thompson shooting from somewhere out on the strip and knocking them down.

Then there is Tom Thibodeau — he’s got nothing else to do, he’s probably watched 12 hours of film prepping for this game.

Let’s just hope everyone stays healthy.

New NBA schedule reduces “four games in five nights,” back-to-backs. It’s a start.

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets
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More and more, coaches are resting their best players during the regular season — because the analytics tell them to. Guys bodies wear down from the grind — 82 regular season games plus playoffs, cross-country travel, games packed tightly together. It has become a growing story around the NBA in recent years — fans are paying big money for tickets to watch Blake Griffin or LeBron James, only to seem them in street clothes because the team is playing four games in five nights.

Back All-Star Game weekend, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would look into this and find a way to space games out more starting the next season.

They certainly did.

Last season there were 70 times teams had four games in five nights (almost always on the road), this season there are just 27. Eight teams have none of them, including the Spurs.

This season teams have an average of 17.8 back-to-back games, down from 19.3 last season. The number of “long distance” back-to-backs (across a time zone) went from 111 last season down to 84 this time. The system is not perfect — Golden State, Detroit, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers — still each have 20 back-to-backs, but it’s an improvement.

That’s some steps in the right direction.

It’s not going to instantly end the rash of injuries to star players that we saw last season, but it’s a start to reduce the wear-and-tear on NBA players’ bodies which accumulates into injuries.

Next year the NBA schedule could start even a week earlier, and that space would be used further reduce those congested games.

Ideally that will mean fewer games where stars are rested, but we will have to see how that plays out.

In the end, this is about good business and the product on the court. As scientific evidence mounts that fatigue both impacts the quality of the game and increases the chance of injury, reducing that fatigue is going to happen one way or another. If the league can’t do it through better scheduling — and we all know the owners and players are not going to agree to reduce the number of games — then the coaches will take matters into their own hands. As Gregg Popovich has done for years.

Adam Silver has been wisely proactive with this schedule. But it is just a first couple steps.


Predicting Team USA’s 12-man roster for 2016 Rio Olympics

File photo of U.S. basketball Chairman Colangelo and the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team posing in Las Vegas

The Rio Olympics are less than one year away — opening ceremonies are Aug. 5, 2016. Set your DVR now.

In preparation, USA Basketball opens its 2015 mini-camp in Las Vegas Tuesday and players who wants to make the 2016 cut have to at least show up. It’s an embarrassment of riches — you could make a second team of 12 guys from the couple dozen that will not make Team USA’s roster for Rio and win a medal comfortably.

There are only 12 spots on the roster and two-thirds of it seem all but locked in right now. That leaves some interesting battles for a few spots. Obviously, injuries and the coming season will alter the roster, but we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like.

Who makes it to Rio?


• LeBron James: A three-time Olympian and the leader of the 2012 gold medal team in London. He is still the single best player walking the face of the earth. The only question here is, does he want to play? He will be at mini-camp in Las Vegas to keep his options open, but no decision has been made.

• Kevin Durant: When healthy the best pure scorer on the planet (he just has to stay healthy enough to play). A member of the 2012 gold medal team in London who begged out of the 2014 World Championships after the Paul George injury.

• Anthony Davis: Maybe the new face of Team USA, and he has already a gold medal from his time in London. He is central to what Team USA likes to do — he’s a big man who can protect the rim on defense but can get out and run on offense, plus has a shot that can space the floor.

• Russell Westbrook: He won gold in London in 2012, and he’s the kind of athlete Coach K loves to use to overwhelm opponents — other countries do not have a guy like him.

• James Harden: He won gold in 2012 and was part of the 2014 FIBA team that won the World Cup, he will be there in Rio. The man can just flat-out score the rock.

• Stephen Curry: The reigning MVP and the best shooter in the game was with Team USA in 2014, and his ability to both catch-and-shoot or create his own shot off the bounce makes him invaluable. Plus in Rio his shooting range starts about Copacabana beach.

That’s six. Half the roster is done.


• Kawhi Leonard: Coach K likes to have one defensive-minded, shut down wing on the roster. Kobe Bryant played that role brilliantly in 2008, Andre Iguodala was there in 2012, now it is Leonard’s turn. Plus he gets them buckets in transition.

• Blake Griffin: Not only can he overwhelm teams with athleticism and finish in transition, but also he has shooting range now to the arc and in international ball bigs have to stretch the floor.

• DeMarcus Cousins: The USA will likely start with Anthony Davis as the center (as they did in 2014) but you need some more traditional size behind him, and that’s where Cousins comes into play. He can body up other bigs, he runs the floor well (when he wants to) and he has a reliable outside shot.

That makes nine guys: three are three guards, three wings, and three bigs. We need one more of each to round out the roster.


• Chris Paul: It’s his if he wants it — there still is no better floor general in the game, he has gold from 2012,. Plus he is a better defender than the guys below him on this list. Coach K trusts him, but will CP3 want to go to Rio after his 11th NBA season?

• Kyrie Irving: If it’s not CP3 it’s likely Irving, who played for Coach K at Duke, then did a good job for him at the 2014 World Cup (he played more minutes per game than anyone else on the team in Spain last year).

Missing the cut: John Wall, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, Michael Carter-Williams, DeMar DeRozan.


• Klay Thompson: Go ahead and argue he’s a guard not a wing if you want (it’s splitting hairs), but he fits perfectly in the international game. He is a great shooter, runs the floor well and can defend multiple positions. He’ll be in Rio.

• Rudy Gay: He was on the 2014 roster at the World Championships and Coach K likes his versatility, this is a possible fallback if there are injuries.

• Paul George: He’s a feel good story and certainly brings defense and scoring — if he’s healthy and good to go. I don’t expect him to make the cut, but if he has a strong regular season he’s a guy to watch.

Missing the cut: Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Draymond Green, Tobias Harris, Chandler Parsons.


• Dwight Howard: His game isn’t a perfect fit internationally, but there is not going to be a more athletic big man or rim protector in Rio than Howard. It’s hard to leave him off the roster.

• Kevin Love: The Cavaliers may be struggling with how to use him but Coach K is not — bigs who can stretch the floor are key in the international style game. Plus the USA wants to run and he has the best outlet pass in the game. He won gold in 2012. He could make the team.

• LaMarcus Aldridge: He has a rocky history with USA Basketball, but for all the reasons Love is a good fit on the team and in the international game, Aldridge works just as well.

• Carmelo Anthony: He’s got multiple gold medals (2008 and 2012), and when used as a four he becomes a dangerous weapon in the international game. Coach K likes and trusts him, but it’s a tough numbers game for him to get to Rio.

Missing the cut: DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee, Kenneth Faried.

Report: Nike will not match $200 million offer, James Harden to sign with Adidas

James Harden

This was the only hint you needed: James Harden was playing in the Drew League playoffs last weekend in Los Angeles and his girlfriend (apparently) Khloe Kardashian showed up to watch him ball — fully decked out in Adidas gear.

Harden had gotten a reported 13-year, $200 million offer from Adidas to become the face of that brand and, after much deliberation, Nike has decided not to match it. TMZ was first with this story.

Our Nike sources tell us the company has decided it won’t try to top the $200 million deal Adidas offered Harden last week. As we’ve reported … Nike had concerns about sinking that much dough into just ONE player, when it has several other superstars to sign.

Harden has yet to officially accept Adidas’ 13-year deal, but the writing is on the wall … or on Khloe’s back. She was sporting Adidas gear at his Drew League game this weekend.

Nike still has LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, plus a number of stars under the Air Jordan brand — Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook, to name a few.

But they had missed out on Stephen Curry (he signed with Under Armour) and there was reported concern the company didn’t want to lose another big name and would match. Turns out, they are not that worried.

Harden becomes the biggest star in the Adidas NBA universe, replacing Derrick Rose (his struggles to stay on the court hurt sales). Adidas can’t get his signature shoe to market fast enough. They also have John Wall, Damian Lillard and others under contract. However, Harden’s teammate in Houston Dwight Howard is rumored to be leaving the brand soon

The question is will the Harden signing move the needle on shoe sales? Nike has incredible customer loyalty and a product people love and trust, which is why they still have 90 percent of the basketball shoe market. It’s not just the Jordan name.

But Adidas needs some star power to start chipping away at Nike’s dominance (especially after Nike outbid them for the NBA apparel contract), and Harden with his beard is a good start.

Report: Jamal Crawford would want to play for Cavaliers

Los Angeles Clippers v Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers and Clippers reportedly discussed a Jamal Crawford trade. Asked about joining Cleveland, Crawford said he wished he were a free agent.

In case you can’t connect the dots…

Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

I know Jamal personally, and I know he would definitely like to be a part of the Cavaliers’ organization.

Jamal is one guy off the top of my head that I know would be a fit, and I know that they’ll be looking at him.

They want to use that exception for a wing player.

Let’s be clear: This doesn’t mean Crawford doesn’t also want to play for the Clippers. Many role players want to join LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland for the open shots and championship chance, but Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan offer a similar opportunity.

The Clippers might not want to keep Crawford, though. He’s somewhat superfluous with Lance Stephenson, Austin Rivers and Pablo Prigioni coming off the bench. The Clippers might be happy to flip Crawford for just salary relief. Shedding Crawford would save the Clippers $16,180,533 – $5,675,000 in salary and $10,505,533 in projected luxury-tax payments.

The Cavaliers could absorb Crawford into their Brendan Haywood trade exception. That would create an even higher tax bill than the Clippers face with Crawford – the exact amount depends on salaries for Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith – but Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has clearly green-lit massive spending.

How much Cleveland could use Crawford on the court depends whether Smith re-signs.

If Smith doesn’t, Crawford is a decent alternative as a spot-up shooter. His 3-point shooting sunk to 32.7% last season, but that was due to off-the dribble 3-pointers – which fell to 25.0% from 36.4% the year prior. Meanwhile, Crawford’s 3-point shooting without dribbling prior to launching ticked up from 36.0% to 38.0%.

If Smith returns, Crawford is even more of a luxury as another shooter. With the attention LeBron, Irving and Love attract, Cleveland can always use more spot-up threats.

Mo Williams filled the Cavaliers’ major need for an off-the-bench shot creator. The 35-year-old Crawford has declined in that regard, but there’s at least hope he could provide a little insurance.

The Cavaliers don’t need Crawford, at least not considering they could just sign Smith. But if Gilbert is willing to pay for him and the Clippers are willing to dump him for minimal return, the only question is whether Cleveland could better use that portion of the Haywood exception. Crawford would definitely strengthen the Cavs.