Tag: Indiana Pacers

Team USA Showcase

Paul George is excused from Team USA mini-camp


One can understand if Paul George may not want to play in the Team USA intrasquad exhibition game in Las Vegas this week. He’s not exactly had positive experiences with that in the past.

Still, George wants the opportunity to make the Team USA roster for the 2016 Rio Olympics, so he was in Las Vegas Tuesday for the opening of Team USA’s mini-camp (players had to show up in Las Vegas to be considered). But he was one-and-done — one day and he was excused from hanging around for the rest of camp, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that George attended both a team meeting Monday night as well as a one-on-one sitdown with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, thus satisfying a mandate from USAB managing director Jerry Colangelo that any player who wants to be considered for the 2016 Olympic team must show himself in Vegas.

But sources say George — who was always expected by USAB officials to sit out this week’s two light workouts as well as Thursday night’s intrasquad scrimmage — was spared the chore of being forced to watch Tuesday’s noncontact session from the sideline and then face the media hordes in attendance.

After his horrific leg fracture a year ago at a Team USA exhibition, George missed almost the entire next NBA season.

He’s a bit of a longshot to make the roster for Rio, if he’s going to make it then it all starts with him looking like his old self this coming season. If he’s defending well on the wing and racking up points efficiently (and showing off a sweet outside stroke) then it’s possible he makes the cut.

But he doesn’t need to hang around Vegas a few extra days to prove anything.

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.

Nets sign journeyman point guard Donald Sloan

Donald Sloan, Nene

The Brooklyn Nets added more backcourt depth on Monday, signing veteran point guard Donald Sloan. The team announced the move in a press release:

The Brooklyn Nets have signed guard Donald Sloan, General Manager Billy King announced today. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released.

Sloan (6’3”, 205) has appeared in 157 games (33 starts) in four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks (2011-12), New Orleans Hornets (2011-12, 2012-13), Cleveland Cavaliers (2011-13) and Indiana Pacers (2013-15), registering averages of 4.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 15.5 minutes per game. Sloan also saw action in four playoff games with the Pacers during the 2014 postseason. The 27-year-old Sloan put together his best professional season in 2014-15 with Indiana, posting career-highs in games played (53), starts (21), points per game (7.4), rebounds per game (2.7) and assists per game (3.6). Sloan has also spent time in the D-League and has had brief stints in China and the Philippines.

Originally undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, the native of Shreveport, La. began his pro career after four years at Texas A&M. Sloan helped lead the Aggies to four NCAA Tournament appearances and was named All-Big 12 First Team following his senior season. He finished his collegiate career eighth on the school’s all-time points and assists lists.

This is a good depth move for Brooklyn. With Deron Williams out of the picture, Jarrett Jack is their likeliest choice to start at point guard, but between Sloan and fellow free agent addition Shane Larkin, they have some solid options off the bench. Under the radar, Brooklyn has made some nice moves this summer, taking a veteran’s-minimum flier on Thomas Robinson and signing a proven shooter in Wayne Ellington. Adding Sloan gives them another proven contributor at a position where they have a lot of stability but not a lot of top-level talent. He absolutely will have the opportunity to earn big minutes.

Roy Hibbert says he’s up for the ‘challenge’ of playing with Kobe Bryant

Roy Hibbert, Kobe Bryant

Roy Hibbert’s mental fragility has been no secret.

Kobe Bryant torments his teammates, and two players – Jared Dudley and Jordan Hill – recently discussed how playing with Kobe isn’t for everybody.

Now, Hibbert and Kobe both play for the Lakers. How will that go?

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

Hibbert has already witnessed Bryant’s brashness first-hand. The center broke his nose while fouling Bryant in an early 2012 game. Not long after, Hibbert said on a podcast that he talked to Bryant “expecting a little sympathy, and I got none from Kobe.”

But Hibbert says he and Bryant have since cleared the air, and that he’s “excited” to play alongside him.

“Just being able to play with a great [and] being pushed by somebody that has done it and won five championships. I’m up for a challenge,” Hibbert says. “People tell me a lot of different things, how he’ll respect me, and I feel like if I go about my business, I can get it done.”

“So,” Hibbert says before taking a long pause, “it’ll be a challenge. But I’m up for it. I’m not going to speculate on other people and how they interacted with him and their relationships, but I feel like if I put my best foot forward in practices and in games, I don’t feel like there will be any tension. And I’m the type of person that will be like, ‘Hey, if I did something, let’s talk it out,’ as opposed to just going back and forth every day.”

Kobe has gotten more patient with his teammates, but that doesn’t make him patient with his teammates.

Will Kobe take a different approach with Hibbert? Maybe. If Kobe wants to make the playoffs, the Lakers need major contributions from Hibbert. His rim protection alone could transform what had been a lousy defense.

But I have plenty of doubt this relationship will work.

I’m reminded of the scorpion-and-frog fable. A scorpion wants to cross a river, but he can’t swim. So, he asks a frog to carry him across the water. The frog says no, fearing the scorpion will sting him. The scorpion assures the frog that he wont, because if he did, they’d both drown during passage. The frog relents, and the scorpion hops on his back. As they reach the middle of the river, the scorpion stings the frog, who begins to sink. The frog asks the scorpion why he did that, knowing it will kill them both.

“I couldn’t help it,” the scorpion says. “It’s in my nature.”

For Hibbert and Kobe to mesh, at least one will have to change his nature. That’s far from impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Report: Pacers to sign Toney Douglas

Toney Douglas

The Pelicans waived Toney Douglas before having to guarantee the rest of his contract.

The Pacers didn’t submit a claim, but now that he has cleared waivers, they’ll take him.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

The Pacers probably got a couple advantages by signing Douglas rather than claiming him. If it’s a one-year minimum contract, the NBA will pay a portion of it. That wouldn’t have happened by claiming him, because he was on a two-year deal, even though that was for the minimum. Indiana can also negotiate a new guarantee date rather than Aug. 1 – and that’s particularly important.

The Pacers have 15 players with guaranteed salaries, and their four lowest-paid players – Shayne Whittington, Joseph Young, Rakeem Christmas and Glenn Robinson III – signed this offseason. It’s hard to see Indiana making room for Douglas on its regular-season roster.

George Hill, Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Joseph Young can all play point guard or some proximity to the position. If Indiana makes a trade, Douglas could provide depth – especially because some of those other players will see most of their minutes on the wing. Otherwise, Douglas probably gets squeezed out in late October.

But at minimum, the six-year veteran will have training camp to make his case. Maybe a point guard-needy team with a roster vacancy will be watching.