Tag: Russell Westbrook

Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers

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.

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.

Kobe Bryant, can this Laker team make the playoffs? “Of course it can. Absolutely.”

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

Kobe Bryant’s confidence is legendary.

So when Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears asked this question, he had to know the answer.

With Kobe back, a few solid veterans such as Brandon Bass and Lou Williams, plus young stars like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, can this Lakers team make the playoffs in a brutal Western Conference?

“Of course it can. Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know. We are going to [training] camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are. And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths.”

What did you expect him to say?

He’s wrong, but what did you expect him to say? It’s what GM Mitch Kupchak said as well.

I can hear the comments from the blind faith in Kobe/Lakers fans now, “everyone has doubted Kobe his entire career, he has proved everybody wrong. He will do it again.” That nobody believed in Kobe is a myth in the first place, but even he can’t overcome these hurdles.

Lakers won 21 games last season, and last season it took 45 wins to make the playoffs in the West — and that number likely goes up next season. The Lakers will be improved, but 24 games improved? Have you seen the West?

There are a lot of questions to answer and a lot of development that has to happen for these Lakers. Russell may develop into a quality point guard one day, but he’s a rookie with a steep learning curve (and he showed how steep at Summer League). Randle needs to diversify his offensive game. Clarkson is still growing and will have to work more off the ball. There are new players to fit in the mix with Bass, Williams and Roy Hibbert.

The real question is defense, the Lakers were terrible last season and likely not much improved this year. Hibbert was a rock-solid defensive anchor a couple of years ago in Indiana, but on a team with quality perimeter defenders (Paul George, Goerge Hill) who funneled drives right to him and allowed him to use his size. The Lakers lack those kinds of perimeter defenders, plus Hibbert has to show he can recognize plays and move in the same way he used to.

The bottom line is you look at the playoffs in the West and see the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder (with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back), Grizzlies and Pelicans are locks. That’s seven of the eight seeds. Which leaves the Lakers trying to beat out an improved Jazz team, the Mavericks, Suns, Trail Blazers, and potentially the Kings for that one final playoff spot.

Sorry Kobe, but the 36 wins the Lakers will rack up next season will not be enough.

An excellent Kobe Bryant impersonation (video)

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

This is really great, but I have one question: Why does he show Kobe Bryant making such a high percentage of his shots?

If you liked this and haven’t seen the prequels (or even if you already have):

Report: Serge Ibaka not yet cleared to play after March surgery

"Son Of The Congo" - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival

Serge Ibaka had knee surgery in mid-March and was expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.

Nineteen weeks later, the Thunder power forward – who was named to Team Africa for the NBA’s first exhibition game on the continent – reportedly still isn’t ready to play.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

That’s a little concerning, though it shouldn’t cause panic for a couple reasons:

1. There’s still plenty of time before training camp opens.

2. Ibaka’s originally scheduled return was right around playoff time. There should be a higher standard of clearance for an exhibition game than a postseason game. It’s unclear whether Ibaka could play if this contest had higher stakes.

Still, it’s obviously not great news that Ibaka isn’t cleared.

The Thunder have been sidetracked in recent years by injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Ibaka isn’t at their level, but his defense and floor spacing means a lot to Oklahoma City. Ibaka is just a tick below All-Star level.

If everyone is healthy, the Thunder should contend for a championship. Once again, though, the status of at least one of their top players is in doubt.

At least, this time, it’s in the summer rather than spring.