Tag: Sacramento Kings

File photo of U.S. basketball Chairman Colangelo and the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team posing in Las Vegas

Predicting Team USA’s 12-man roster for 2016 Rio Olympics


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.

Report: Spurs signing undrafted Keifer Sykes

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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The Spurs had to sacrifice some depth – Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli, Aron Baynes – to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and build one of the NBA’s strongest teams.

That has left San Antonio needing the preseason to round out its roster. The Spurs have:

  • 13 players whose salaries are fully guaranteed
  • 2 players whose salaries are mostly guaranteed (Matt Bonner and Jimmer Fredette)
  • 1 player whose salary is unguaranteed (Reggie Williams)
  • 1 player whose guarantee is unknown but probably low (Youssou Ndoye)

San Antonio is adding another player to the mix.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Sykes is quick and explosive, and he uses those skills well to get the basket and pester opponents defensively. But he also has to maximize his athleticism, because he’s just 6-foot and not a good outside shooter.

He’ll have a tough time making the team, because the Spurs are loaded at point guard with Tony Parker, Patty Mills and Ray McCallum. All three already have fully guaranteed salaries. Most likely, Sykes gets waived and has his D-League rights assigned to San Antonio’s affiliate, the Austin Spurs.

Still, San Antonio’s roster instability gives Sykes at least a chance to make a strong impression and land a spot on the parent club.

DeMarcus Cousins dropped 91 points at charity game (Eric Bledsoe had 85)

DeMarcus Cousins

The Suns’ Eric Bledsoe was back in his hometown of Birmingham, Al., where he put on charity event helping disadvantaged youth in the area things like backpacks and schools supplies for the start of the school year. There also was music and food at an event in the park that was a nice story of an NBA star going back to help his hometown.

It was followed by a charity basketball game where Bledsoe got his buddy DeMarcus Cousins to show up and play.

And that’s when the show really started.

That Bledsoe went off on for 85 is impressive, but guards tend to thrive in free-flowing, up-tempo, no-defense pickup games because the ball is in their hands.

Big men, on the other hand, tend to have a rough time because those guards don’t feed them the rock. Which makes what Cousins did insane.

Ricky Rubio on Timberwolves: ‘I have to go pull this team in the playoffs’

Minnesota Timberwolves v Toronto Raptors

Kevin Garnett is the Timberwolves’ most-accomplished player.

Andre Miller is their oldest player.

Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are their most-important players.

But on any team, leadership naturally falls to the starting point guard and highest-paid player. Ricky Rubio, who fills both titles in Minnesota, is embracing that role.

Rubio, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

“We know we’re young and we’re building,” Rubio told SI.com in a phone interview. “At the same time, I think we’re ready to win games. Last season we only won 16 games but it didn’t feel like we were a losing team at all. We were just lacking some things. Me personally, I have to go pull this team in the playoffs. I know it’s a big challenge, but I think we have the right assets, the right weapons to get it. I know we’re in the West side, it’s really tough, but I think we can make it happen. I have big expectations for next season.”

I don’t think it’s completely outlandish to suggest the Timberwolves could make the playoffs. They’re loaded with talent at every position:

  • Point guard: Rubio, Miller, Tyus Jones
  • Shooting guard: Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine
  • Small forward: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica
  • Power forward: Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett
  • Center: Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic

That is one heck of the depth chart.

But there are three major reasons Minnesota won’t make the playoffs:

1. Youth. As talented as those players are, many of them are still very young. They’ll probably need more time to develop and learn how to do the little things necessary to win.

2. Fit. Too many Timberwolves prefer to operate in the same areas of the court. They just don’t have enough floor spacers.

3.  Western Conference. It’s darn good.

Rubio could help, though. He’s reaching the age where he should take the next step. And a nifty passer, he could mitigate Minnesota’s spacing issues. He’ll have no shortage of talented players to throw passes. He’s the crux.

The Timberwolves probably won’t reach the postseason, but if they do, it very well could be because Rubio pulled them there.

Jason Thompson happy with stability of Warriors after seven years in Sacramento

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings

Stability and continuity matter in the NBA.

No team is ever static, but there can be continuity of vision and a player core, and that matters. That’s what wins. It has mattered for the San Antonio Spurs for pushing two decades, and that stability has turned them into the model franchise in the league. More recently, Atlanta finally has some stability of system under Mike Budenholzer and they jumped to the top of the East with 60 wins (even while we debate if they can sustain that).

Then there are the Golden State Warriors. Since new ownership came in they have stuck with their vision and it paid off with a ring and a parade.

After seven seasons in Sacramento, Jason Thompson was traded to the Warriors (via Philadelphia) this summer and is excited by the idea of stability, he told the Associated Press.

“I haven’t been around much winning this past seven years,” said Thompson, sitting in the Warriors downtown practice facility Thursday. “A lot of instability with seven coaches in seven years, 180 teammates and things like that. That doesn’t ever lead to winning. To come to an organization that has and coming off a championship, that’s great for myself.”

The other thing stable organizations do is create competition for playing time — Thompson is going to have to earn minutes that could go to Festus Ezeli or Marreese Speights.

The obvious take away from what Thompson said is another insult piled on the Sacramento Kings. And it is that. But he’s also not wrong or alone. DeMarcus Cousins’ frustrations with the Kings have been over this same issue of instability of system (and players).

I don’t know that the Vlade Divac/George Karl combination is the answer in Sacramento — and I’ve got plenty of questions about their lineup, too — but Vivek Ranadive, stick with one combo and style for a while. Give this plan a chance to take root and work before you decide to rip it out and start over. This isn’t fantasy basketball, stability and continuity matter. A lot.