Tag: Russell Westbrook

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard says he likely will not take part in USA Minicamp, “I don’t know why I would go”


The list of players expected to be at Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas in August is impressive and could reach near 40 players trying to gain favor for a potential Rio Olympics spot. Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and many others are expected to take to the court. Meanwhile big names like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will be there, but with limited if any participation.

Just don’t expect to see Damian Lillard.

The Trail Blazers’ guard was the final cuts from Team USA last year before the FIBA World Cup, Kyrie Irving that spot, and he seems a little bitter about this. He was on the Jody Mac show on CBSSports Radio Saturday and had this exchange:

Jody Mac: Are you headed to Vegas next month?
Lillard: Probably not.
Jody Mac: Why Not?
Lillard: I did it the last few summers and last summer I didn’t make it. I don’t know why I would go. After I got cut last summer, I don’t think I’m a part of it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Lillard was expected to be there, although it doesn’t sound like it from this interview.

Lillard’s problem is the NBA, and USA Basketball, is deep with elite point guards right now (Curry, Irving and Derrick Rose made the roster that won gold last year). While Lillard was on the bubble last summer remember that Durant, Anthony, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, not to mention point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul didn’t show up for that event. Every one of them knocks Lillard another peg down the ladder (even though some play different positions, LeBron and Durant certainly are ball handlers).

Lillard can do what he wants, he’s under no obligation or commitment. But is this the kind of attitude that’s going to make free agents the next few years say “I want to go to Portland to play with this guy?” It probably doesn’t sway guys much, but it might make a few think about it.

Draft, trades, free agency: How teams constructed their roster (via Bobby Marks)

150726 gs warriors

If you haven’t been following Bobby Marks this summer on Twitter… you call yourself an NBA fan? The former Brooklyn Nets front office executive has been bringing first-hand, insightful front office thoughts and knowledge to the Twitter table all through free agency. He’s now an NBA must follow.

Sunday morning he put up a series of tweets showing how every team has built its roster using three categories: Draft, trades, and free agency. (For clarification, he counts draft-day trades of rookies as part of the draft.) I thought this was too good not to pass along.

One big takeaway — the draft matters. A lot.

Sure, much of the Spurs contending roster came via free agency, but look who is in the draft column — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili. The Clippers are not where they are without drafting Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Thunder drafted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Yes, the Cavaliers got LeBron James via free agency but does he come if they don’t draft Kyrie Irving? Maybe the most extreme example is the Pelicans, they have only one drafted player on the roster — Anthony Davis.

Fans love trades, and you can get cornerstone pieces that way (James Harden, Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, etc.). Free agency is exciting and sometimes big names like LeBron, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, or LaMarcus Aldridge move teams. But the draft is where most teams that have a cornerstone player got them. Winning the draft and holding on to those guys is what matters more than anything else.

Ten Thunder players worked out together for a week in Los Angeles

Oklahoma City Thunder v Orlando Magic

The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be the forgotten contender out West. They’ve got Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka healthy, a strong set of role players, they should be in the mix. There are questions — can Billy Donovan elevate this team as the coach? — but they should not be left off the list.

In a good sign, Durant and Westbrook got 10 of the guys together in Los Angeles for a week of workouts. From Barry Trammel of the Oklahoman (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“It was really cool,” said the president of the fraternity, fellow by the name of Kevin Durant. “It was fun, good to see everybody. Haven’t seen all the guys since the end of the season.”

Durant chatted on the phone for a few minutes Thursday about the off-season workouts he and his pals put together this week. Ten Thunder players are working out together in an old gym on the UCLA campus. Working on their games. Connecting and reconnecting with teammates and coaches, new and old….

“Feels like we’re coming in at the same time,” Durant said. “We always want that tight-knit family atmosphere. We’ve had that (in the past). It can always get better. This week was a step in the right direction for us. We all enjoy being around each other. That was the best part of it.”


NBA players, sometimes teammates, getting together in a small group (maybe three) is not uncommon. Especially at UCLA, which has one of the best off-season runs going. However getting 10 teammates together, working out and bonding in July, is very rare.

It’s a good sign in you’re a Thunder fan.

The Thunder need to stay healthy after a season where they got more than their fair share of injuries. They need Donovan to bring a modern offense to the table. They need their defense to be elite. They need the Enes Kanter/Steven Adams center rotation to work. They need some breaks to go their way in a West stacked with contenders (the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, and Rockets are in the mix, too).

But 10 guys getting together in July? That’s a very good place to start.


More NBA player imitations: Tim Duncan is up


Social media comedian @BdotAdot5 has already lampooned the over-the-top antics of Russell Westbrook and the cooking of James Harden.

Now it’s Tim Duncan’s turn.

The Spurs’ big man’s celebrations are a little more understated, but this made me laugh. Especially the way he runs back up court.

Hilarious James Harden impersonation (video)

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

From the man who brought you this brilliant Russell Westbrook impersonation, here’s the James Harden version.

The arm hook and Wizard of Oz sing-along was spot-on. Harden does it just like that.