Tag: Chicago Bulls

Dante Exum

Dante Exum injury revives debate about risk, reward of playing for national teams


It was one of the big topics of last summer, sparked by the injury to Paul George at a Team USA exhibition:

Can these national team injuries be avoided? Should players be potentially risking their careers over this? Where is the line between the reward of playing for one’s country and the risk of injury?

Those injuries hit NBA teams much harder than they do a national team (particularly a deep USA basketball roster). George missed most of what was a lost season for the Pacers because of that gruesome leg injury, all to play in a FIBA World Cup that draws yawns from fans in the United States (winning it did earn the USA an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics). That has long been Mark Cuban’s issue — if he and the Mavs have to assume the risk of Dirk Nowitzki getting injured playing for Germany, they should get some of the financial rewards of the event. That doesn’t happen.

The potential ACL injury to Utah’s Dante Exum playing for Australia this summer has revived this discussion.

That injury hasn’t slowed the more than 40 players who will be in Las Vegas for the Team USA mini-camp this summer because guys still want to make the Olympic squad. That is the event we care about stateside, plus it is a massive platform internationally to grow a brand. Players are not giving that up. However, a number of name players coming off injury or just feeling tired — Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, among others — will attend but not participate in drills during the camp.

Bottom line: Exum’s injury — a setback for an up-and-coming Jazz team — has people talking.

The big issue is wear and tear. It’s a question of rest.

Guys can suffer injuries anywhere — in a pickup game at UCLA, working out at a Las Vegas gym, during the NBA season, or trying to get out of their car. Injuries happen. The fact is with national teams (particularly Team USA) and international competitions, these guys play fewer minutes and have very good training staffs around them. Injuries are going to be caught faster, and the player taken care of better with Team USA than at private workouts. USA basketball’s staff and facilities are top notch.

And if you are a player who wants to learn from and test yourself against the best, USA Basketball is the place to do it.

The question is how much should guys do for their national teams? When will they get enough rest and let their bodies recuperate? We already know that the NBA is working to adjust its schedule — doing away with four games in five days, reducing back-to-backs — because of concerns about the body needing rest. That marathon grind is seen as the reason for the rash of high-profile injuries that plagued the NBA last season.

“Of course it’s a concern when players are getting injured. It’s not necessarily worse than it’s been historically. But it’s to the point, especially when you see star players going down and missing serious numbers of games, it’s something that we’re focused on…” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the NBA Finals (not long before Irving suffered his knee injury).

“We’ve revamped the entire scheduling process this year to try to do everything to clear more windows at our arenas, to clear more broadcast windows,” Silver said. “… I think the science over time zone travel has gotten much better, where moving four time zones, we think, may have an effect on players’ bodies that we may not have understood historically.”

Since there is no chance the league and players will agree to shorten the NBA season (nobody is giving up that revenue), these are at least some smart steps.

But if players are with their national team during the summer, are they getting enough physical down time? This is not a new concern — China never let Yao Ming rest, he played every summer for the national team, until his body started just to give out on him. Foreign players — such as Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol of Spain, or Exum in Australia — face added pressure because, unlike Team USA, there isn’t the same depth of talent. If the Gasols don’t play for Spain, that team is not nearly as good, there are no comparable replacements.

Cuban wants the NBA to put on its own World Cup, so at least they get paid. That seems unlikely.

But the NBA and FIBA need to talk and come to an understanding. One major tournament every four years — the Olympics — is enough. Soccer, where the World Cup is the biggest event, turned Olympic soccer into an under 23 tournament. There is still some good young talent out there, and these are younger players who can handle the additional training and games more easily, but the big name veterans get to rest more.

There are real challenges in getting this done — all centered around money, of course — but it’s the direction basketball needs to go. We’ve seen the data and it’s clear — players need more rest. International competitions cut into that, and there need to be some limits.

And even if they do all that, injuries will happen. It’s part of the game.



Kobe Bryant says he could see himself ending career in Italy or China


Kobe Bryant said he’s unsure when he’ll retire.

The next question, with Kobe’s Lakers contract entering its final season: Where he’ll retire?

There had been talk of Kobe leaving the Lakers in free agency next summer. That seems possible, but unlikely – at least for another NBA team.

Maybe Kobe will finish his career outside the NBA, an idea he and Pau Gasol have previously entertained.

Kobe in a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Q: After growing up in Italy and spending time in China, could you see yourself ending your career playing at either place?

Kobe: “I can see myself doing that. I can see myself doing a lot of stuff. That’s a whole other question. I will make some decisions when I decide to hang it up.”

I believe Kobe is open to it. I don’t believe it will happen.

Kobe grew up in Italy, and he’s immensely popular in China. Kobe is more internationally inclined than most NBA players.

But a lot of players talk about intentionally ending their careers overseas. Few do.

Kobe was linked to teams in Italy and China during the 2011 lockout, but nothing ever came of it. I see this consideration receiving a similar fate.

If Kobe is healthy enough to play, would he really go somewhere he can’t chase the all-time scoring record or Michael Jordan’s six championships?

Things Pau Gasol thinks are funny: Him, Kobe finishing careers with Barcelona


There is 0.000001 percent chance of this happening (go ahead, use your Dumb and Dumber line here), but I found this tweet too funny not to pass along (plus, it’s August, what else is there to talk about?).

At this point, I seriously doubt Pau Gasol — or, for that matter Marc Gasol — decide to finish out their careers returning to play a year or two for Barcelona in the Spanish ABC League and eating some Escalivada. For them, however, it remains a faint possibility.

For Kobe Bryant? Are you kidding me?

Yes, he spent part of his formative years in Europe while his dad played there, but those were some of his dad’s peak years. Kobe isn’t going to pull his daughters out of school and away from their friends for a year like that to extend his career (he’s doing pretty well financially). Moreover, he’s not going to play for a year at a lower level of competition than the NBA just to grow his brand — he doesn’t need to add EuroBasket champion to his resume. Even if he were going to sell out overseas, he’d go do it in China, where he all but walks on water (and sells more shoes).

As much as Gasol found this amusing, I find it funny somebody even bothered to ask him.

Report: John Wall, after uncertainty, will attend Team USA minicamp

2014 USA Basketball Practice

USA Basketball reportedly had doubts John Wall would attend next week’s minicamp.

Considering USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo made attendance mandatory for making the 2016 Olympic roster, that could have ended Wall’s Rio bid.

But he’ll keep his name in the hat.

J. Michael of CSN Washington:

Bradley Beal will have his backcourt mate, John Wall, when USA Basketball holds camp in Las Vegas starting a week from today, CSNwashington.com has been told by a person with knowledge of the situation.

I’m glad Wall is attending. He wasn’t happy to get cut from Team USA for last year’s World Cup, and I could see why he’d be disenchanted with the program.

But I think he has a real enough chance to make the Olympic squad.

Three point guards represented the U.S. in the World Cup: Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry. Rose is uncertain about sticking with Team USA. Irving is coming off a major injury, and his Cavaliers project to advance deep into next year’s playoffs.

There’s less reason to downgrade Curry’s chances for 2016. Plus, two 2012 Olympians – Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook – are strongly in the mix.

So, it won’t be easy for Wall to make the 2016 Olympics. The U.S. is deep with point guards. But it’s not impossible.

For the same reason, I hope Damian Lillard reconsiders and attends the minicamp. I think he has a chance at the Olympics, too.

There’s probably more in it for Wall, though. Even if he doesn’t make the Olympic roster, at least Wall will get more face time with Kevin Durant during the camp.

Report: Adidas makes $200 million offer to James Harden


James Harden has been a Nike guy. While he didn’t have a signature shoe — yet — the Nike Hyperchase was pretty much his shoe.

However, Nike let their contract with Harden lapse as they tried to renegotiate and Adidas — still looking for a fulcrum, a superstar to build brand around — have jumped in with a $200 million offer, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

The company has submitted a bid of $200 million over 13 years to sign Houston Rockets guard James Harden, sources told ESPN.com. Nike, whose deal with Harden recently expired, has until the end of next week to match the deal or lose him…

With incentives, if the deal is consummated, Harden could very well make more from Adidas in the coming years than the Rockets. Harden signed an $80 million contract extension with Houston in 2012 that goes through the 2017-18 season.

If they land him, Adidas will make Harden and his beard the face of their basketball shoe line. Nike has been incredibly successful building its brand around stars (and great shoes) and they have long had the best in the game inked, from Michael Jordan up through LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Adidas has struggled to land stars and have that translate to shoe sales.

Despite having the NBA (jersey and apparel) deal, Adidas has slipped in recent years due to a lack of individual basketball stars. In 2012, the company signed a massive 14-year deal with Derrick Rose, only to see him miss plenty of action because of knee injuries. Its other star is Damian Lillard, whose Portland Trail Blazers aren’t really showing much promise. Endorser John Wall shows plenty of flash, but his first signature Adidas line fell relatively flat this year.

Adidas is giving up its uniform deal with the league after Nike came in with a massive bid to take it over.

While getting out of the uniform game, Adidas has shifted focus to finding the stars that can sell its shoes. They have Andrew Wiggins under contract and the Rookie of the Year shows potential to be a breakout star on an up-and-coming Minnesota team.

But Harden is an already established star with crossover appeal outside of just the basketball world — with his beard, sense of style, and being linked romantically to Khloe Kardashian, people know who Harden is who are not big hoops fans. Combine that with an MVP-level on-the-court game and this is a great gamble by Adidas.

Nike may match, Rovell says. Nike is still stung by getting outbid by Under Armour for Stephen Curry by $4 million, only to see him blow up into a superstar. They don’t want to lose another top NBA player.

Either way, Harden is about to get PAID.