Tag: Orlando Magic

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.

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.

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

Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers

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.

Report: Magic sign Melvin Ejim to partially guaranteed contract

Melvin Ejim, Rafael Hettsheimeir, Vitor Benite
1 Comment

Just two players from power-five teams averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game in the 2013-14 season.

One, Duke’s Jabari Parker, was the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft.

The other, Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, went undrafted and spent last season overseas.

Now, Ejim is getting his NBA chance.

David Pick:

Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors:

Pick confirmed to Hoops Rumors that Ejim has accepted the invitation.

The 6-foot-7 Ejim played a lot of power forward in college, where he was much more dynamic than his peers. He might not be big enough to play that position in the pros, though the rise of small ball could help him. He might not have the athleticism or skill to transition to small forward, either.

But Ejim plays hard and smart, and that’s why he deserves this opportunity. His physical concerns are just that – concerns, not deal-breakers.

Ejim gives the Magic 16 players. He figures to compete with Keith Appling (partially guaranteed) and Roy Devyn Marble (unguaranteed) for the final two roster spots, though Orlando still has a little cap room and the room exception to sign others.

If the Magic waive Ejim, they could assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. Perhaps, that’s Orlando’s intention. But as it stands, the Magic’s roster gives him a chance to make the NBA team.

Magic guarantee Dewayne Dedmon’s contract

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets

The Magic have shuffled backup centers this summer – signing Jason Smith and signing-and-trading Kyle O’Quinn to the Knicks.

They’ll keep a  little stability behind Nikola Vucevic in Dewayne Dedmon.

Dedmon’s 2015-16 minimum salary was fully unguaranteed if not waived by Saturday. Orlando let that deadline pass, fully guaranteeing Dedmon’s salary, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Dedmon is big (7-foot, 245 pounds), and he plays like it. He blocks shots, pulls in rebounds and fouls a ton. He’s underdeveloped offensively, but his size allows him to contribute.

He spent most of last season in the Magic’s rotation, even starting 15 games. Orlando should aim for Dedmon to improve or for him to see a smaller role this year.

The window for Dedmon to hit the next level is slowly closing, though it’s more open than it would be for the typical player who turns 26 next week. Dedmon didn’t begin playing basketball until late in high school, indicating he could blossom a little later, too.

He has already proven himself worth a minimum contract to provide center depth. The chance he improves made this an easy call for the Magic.