Oklahoma City had more than just Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Turkey for the World Championships, there was also Nenad Krstic from Serbia.
It was Serbia that sent Spain packing, lost in dramatic fashion to Turkey in the semi-finals and finished fourth after losing the bronze medal game to Lithuania.
In that final game, Krstic fractured the index finger on his shooting hand, and Monday he had surgery to repair it, according to a tweet from Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. He will miss training camp but should be ready to go for the regular season.
Not ideal, but Krstic is not a guy the Thunder count on to score a lot. If he can rebound, defend and play some solid minutes off the bench, all will be good.
With the thin front line USA Basketball this summer — a lot of top names said no then Amar’e Stoudemire, Brook Lopez and David Lee couldn’t play — Jerry Colangelo was calling everyone and anyone. JaVale McGee got multiple chances to make the team. Lamar Odom was the starting center. They were looking around.
That included a call to Joakim Noah. But Noah said no, he wants to play for France, according to an interview in a French paper (translated by Hoopsnotes).
“Cameroon (where his great-father is born) and Sweden (land of his mother) also called me,” Joakim Noah said to the Journal du Dimanche. “I was pleased to be contacted by Team USA, which searched valid centers. It could have given me the possibility to play with great players. But I repeat it: I want to play with France, it’s my dream.”
“That would make my great-mother really happy and I want my family to be proud. This summer, I was in a difficult situation. But I’m coming next year and I will use my blue jersey.”
Next summer France will play in a qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics in London. In Turkey, France was without a number of NBA players — including Tony Parker — who will make that team much more formidable in future events.
USA Basketball has a consistent history of coming up with excuses for the last cut from the team.
But in Rajon Rondo’s case this summer, they were more reasons that he withdrew as the 13th man. He told Ric Bucher of ESPN that he was hesitant to go in the first place (remember the in-or-out discussion that surrounding whether he would even try out?) but did so because of pressure. His agent Bill Duffy thought it was a good idea. Maybe because it would have helped get some endorsements to make up for the money he lost out on with his below-market contract.
In fact, if it had been up to Rondo, he never would have tried out for the USA squad that ended a 16-year drought by defeating Turkey for the 2010 FIBA World Championship title. Worn out from the Celtics’ narrow Finals loss to the Lakers, his mind on making up for it this season, missing his two-year old daughter, mourning the death of an uncle and disenchanted with European cuisine contributed to his subpar performance with the squad, he said, ultimately leading him to withdraw from the team….
“It was great to practice every day against the best young talent in the league, a veteran like Chauncey Billups and play for a Hall of Fame coach [Mike Krzyzewski],” Rondo said. “But some of these guys hadn’t played since April. Lamar [Odom] and I had just got out of Game 7. And next season is right around the corner. I feel like I had to take advantage of the opportunity I have right now to win another championship. It’s not often you get to play with four Hall of Famers. Another couple of years and I won’t have that.”
Nobody is really going to think less of Rondo for not playing (particularly after the team won the gold and hand quality guard play without him). And he’s right that he is only going to have so many shots at the Larry O’Brien trophy, so he needs to focus his energies.
But in the future — you’re all in or all out. Nothing halfway.