Tag: Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder v Chicago Bulls

Report: Thunder to host Bulls on Christmas Day


Slowly but surely, details of the NBA’s 2015-16 regular-season schedule are emerging. The whole thing is expected to be released officially this week, but four of the five Christmas Day matchups have come out. The Pelicans will play the Heat at noon, and there will be a Finals rematch between the Cavaliers and Warriors as well as a Lakers-Clippers matchup.

Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman adds a fourth game to that list: Bulls vs. Thunder, in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder will be home for Christmas.

For the sixth consecutive season, Oklahoma City will be featured in the league’s biggest holiday showcase when it hosts Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day, The Oklahoman has learned.

It will be the first time the Thunder has hosted a Christmas game since 2011, when it defeated Orlando inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder is 4-1 in Christmas games, with wins against Denver in 2010, the Magic in 2011, New York in 2013 and San Antonio in 2014. OKC’s lone Christmas Day loss came at Miami in 2012.

The league has not yet determined the time of the Thunder-Bulls game. An afternoon tip is likely.

If everyone involved is healthy, this should be a good one. We haven’t had a Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook point-guard matchup since December 6, 2010. Jimmy Butler, who made a name for himself this postseason defending LeBron James in the playoffs, will likely be matched up with Kevin Durant. The coaching battle between Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan, two highly successful college coaches with no NBA experience, will be fun to watch as well.

This leaves one Christmas Day matchup yet to be determined. Spurs-Rockets would make the most sense out of the realistic possibilities: plenty of star power (James Harden, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan) and two legitimate title contenders. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Report: Team USA changed mind on Trey Burke minicamp invitation, asks Michael Carter-Williams instead

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Practice

Trey Burke was reportedly set to be invited to Team USA’s minicamp.

But he didn’t appear on the list of 34 players  expected to attend the camp.

What gives?

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

Marc Stein of ESPN, who originally reported Burke’s invitation:

Attending the minicamp is the first step in making the 2016 Olympic roster, but this late swap probably won’t matter. It seems unlikely Burke or Michael Carter-Williams would pass enough of these point guards to reach Rio:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Chris Paul
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Kyrie Irving
  • John Wall
  • Mike Conley

For what it’s worth, Carter-Williams deserved the invitation over Burke. Carter-Williams’ length and defensive versatility provides a dimension those other point guards don’t possess. Burke is just a (far) lesser version of Paul and Irving. When it comes to long shots, the more variance, the better. Carter-Williams’ style provides more variance.

Because neither player had much of an Olympic chance, Burke misses only the experience of playing with these other great players. That could have been useful, especially with him in line to start for the Dante Exum-less Jazz this season.

At least Burke won’t risk injury in Las Vegas next week – though that matters only if you believe Burke won’t be playing basketball elsewhere instead.

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.