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Team USA announces 34 expected minicampers: DeAndre Jordan and Michael Carter-Williams in, Derrick Rose out


Team USA started with a 28-player pool for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

That was narrowed for the World Cup with two players added, bringing the total to 30.

A few more players were added during World Cup tryouts, increasing the pool to 33.

A report last month listed seven newcomers, giving the Americans 40 known candidates for Rio.

Today, Team USA announced 34 players – including two previously unknowns – were expected to attend next week’s minicamp, which USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called mandatory for Olympic consideration:

  • Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
  • Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
  • Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
  • Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
  • Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)
  • DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
  • Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
  • Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
  • Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
  • Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
  • Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
  • Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
  • Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
  • Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • James Harden (Houston Rockets)
  • Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic)
  • Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
  • Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets)
  • Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
  • Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic)
  • Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks)
  • Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Mason Plumlee (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
  • John Wall (Washington Wizards)
  • Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

At this point, there aren’t many surprise inclusions. The two big ones: Jordan and Carter-Williams, neither of whom had previously been mentioned for the player pool. Jordan has emerged as one of the NBA’s best centers, and he could definitely make the Olympic roster. The road will be much more difficult for Carter-Williams, who has a strong crop of point guards in front of him.

Carter-Williams’ additions probably has something to do with the players previously in the pool who aren’t expected to attend the minicamp:

  • Tyson Chandler (Phoenix Suns)
  • Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors)
  • Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks)
  • David Lee (Boston Celtics)
  • Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
  • Deron Williams (Dallas Mavericks)

Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke was reportedly extended a minicamp invite but he’s not on the list of expected attendees. It’s unclear whether the report was inaccurate or Burke declined.

Lillard and Rose are the big losses. Lillard seems fed up with USA Basketball, so his no-show will be no surprise. Rose’s is a little less expected, though we saw the possibility coming. Rose played in the World Cup, and it seemed his relationship with Team USA assistant coach Tom Thibodeau helped secure him a roster spot. Since the Bulls have fired Thibodeau, maybe that distanced Rose from USA Basketball. More time off could certainly help the point guard after his multiple serious injuries.

Bottom line: This player pool is strong, and Colangelo will have no trouble assembling the best roster in the world before the 2016 Olympics. The key is finding the ideal roster – the one that best blends talent and fit. This minicamp will be mostly ceremonial, but that process will continue there.

Steve Blake trys to carve out role as more than just veteran bench presence in Detroit

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In Detroit, newly minted max player Reggie Jackson is going to be the starting point guard for Stan Van Gundy. Behind him there is Brandon Jennings, who is coming off a torn Achilles. Jennings may be ready to go when the season tips off, but even if he is Van Gundy may want to go easy on his minutes.

Then there’s veteran Steve Blake.

Van Gundy wanted insurance in case Jennings wasn’t ready to go when the season tips off, plus Van Gundy likes shooters and Blake is a career 38.5 percent from three (35.2 percent last season). So the Pistons traded Quincy Miller for Blake (the trade was with the Nets, who had gotten Blake in a draft night deal with Portland).

Van Gundy was looking for a veteran presence on the bench, but he’s got a suspicion Blake will find his way onto the court, he told the official Pistons’ website.

“That’s one of the things my brother (Jeff) said when we talked about the trade,” Van Gundy grinned. “He said, ‘If I had to bet, I’d say he finds a way to get on the floor no matter what.’ That’s sort of what he’s always done. He’s found a way to play.”

If Blake is playing a lot at age 35 it’s not ideal, it means Jennings isn’t right. Blake game has started to slip in recent years, but he can be solid. What Van Gundy saw in Blake was a professional, a guy who puts in the work, a smart veteran player —the kind needed in the locker room of a young team. He and Joel Anthony are the veteran voices.

“The last two people we (signed) were Joel and Steve. It’s a young team,” Van Gundy said. “We really didn’t get any older. Our starting lineup will average under 25 years old. I’m not sure having all young guys is the best way to develop all those guys. I think we saw the benefits of Caron (Butler) and Joel and Anthony Tolliver last year. Besides what Steve can do on the floor, I think Steve, Joel and Anthony as our only guys over 30 give us veteran guys who are really, really solid pros and good people for those guys to watch and grow up around.”

There certainly are real questions about them, but I’m higher on Detroit next season than a lot of people. Jackson and Andre Drummond showed some chemistry last season. Ersan Ilyasova is a better fit stylistically at the four in Van Gundy’s system than Greg Monroe. I think players like Marcus Morris and rookie Stanley Johnson can make an impact. They need shooters (expect Jodi Meeks’ role to grow) but there is some potential here.

I think this is a playoff team in the East. So long as Blake can be that veteran voice that helps keep the young players on the right path.

Report: Knicks finalizing partially guaranteed contract with Thanasis Antetokounmpo

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Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s agent said the Knicks would sign his contract this summer.

Then, an anonymous source said they would.

Now, it seems to be finally happening.

David Pick:

After using the room exception on Kevin Seraphin, the Knicks can give Antetokounmpo just a minimum contract. Two years is the maximum length.

Antetokounmpo will be the Knicks’ 15th player. They’ll also likely sign other players for training camp with the expectation they’ll be waived and assigned to the D-League Westchester Knicks. But if those players make it to camp, there’s always a chance they outperform Antetokounmpo and steal an NBA roster spot from him. The size of Antetokounmpo’s guarantee will both influence the likelihood he makes the Knicks and protect him in case he doesn’t.

The No. 51 pick in the 2014 draft, Antetokounmpo spent last season in the D-League. He’s an energetic, athletic and long forward with loads of defensive potential. His offense is much less developed.

Antetokounmpo – brother of the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo – is the leader in the clubhouse to be New York’s 15th man and a favorite to hold that spot. But until we see how the Knicks round out their training-camp roster, it’s tough to say more than that.