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.
USA Basketball announced its expected minicamp attendees, prompting one major Utah Jazz question:
Where’s Trey Burke?
Turns out, Team USA had a late change of heart and invited Michael Carter-Williams instead. Simple enough.
But Jazz center Rudy Gobert wondered about a different Utah teammate:
That Derrick Favors didn’t make the 34-player camp speaks to the Americans’ depth. None of these players are headed to Las Vegas:
- Kyle Lowry
- Paul Millsap
- Jeff Teague
- Danny Green
- Zach Randolph
- Eric Bledsoe
- Greg Monroe
- Khris Middleton
- Hassan Whiteside
- DeMarre Carroll
That list doesn’t even include players like Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose, who chose not to attend. The U.S. is just loaded with talent.
It’s not hard to argue Favors should have been invited over some players who were. But try making the case he belongs on the final 12-man Olympic roster. That’s practically impossible, making this snub mostly academic.
But if Gobert wants to cape for his teammate, that’s just great.
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.
Most teams carry three point guards, and the Raptors are pretty set:
1. Kyle Lowry
2. Cory Joseph
3. Delon Wright
They’ll also have a fourth point guard in training camp.
Shams Charania of RealGM:
The Raptors have 14 players with fully guaranteed salaries. Scott becomes Toronto’s fourth with a partial guarantee, joining Ronald Roberts, Michale Kyser and Axel Toupane.
Roberts remains the favorite to win the 15th and final regular-season roster spot for a few reasons.
One, his guarantee ($75,000) is higher than Kyser’s ($25,000) and Toupane’s ($25,000). If it turns out Scott’s guarantee is higher than Roberts’, that could change the equation. But I’d be surprised if that’s the case. Even then, waiving Roberts would accomplish less than waiving Scott.
The Raptors can waive Scott, Kyser and Toupane and assign their D-League rights to Toronto’s affiliate. Roberts’ D-League rights are already held by the Santa Cruz Warriors, meaning he can’t be assigned.
Plus, it’s difficult to see Scott finding a role on this Raptors team. His scoring is suspect, and he never showed range to even the college 3-point arc. He defended well in college, but his pedestrian size for his position will limit that asset at the next level. He also passed well in college, but again, maybe not well enough to project him as a plus NBA passer – at least not immediately.
Most importantly, Toronto doesn’t need another point guard. Unless that somehow changes, Scott is most likely headed to the Raptors’ D-League affiliate.
The Raptors essentially have four locks in their starting lineup:
- Point guard: Kyle Lowry
- Shooting guard: DeMar DeRozan
- Small forward: DeMarre Carroll
- Center: Jonas Valanciunas
What about power forward, where Amir Johnson started before signing with the Celtics?
Patrick Patterson, via Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star:
“I see it as it’s mine to lose . . . But it’s all about what coach (Dwane) Casey wants, what (general manager) Masai (Ujiri) sees, and who works hard and who earns it.”
Patterson will have competition, primarily from Luis Scola. Terrence Ross and James Johnson could also push their way into the starting lineup if Toronto goes small.
But I agree with Patterson: He’s the favorite for the position.
Patterson has developed into a solid stretch four, and he’ll space the floor for Jonas Valanciunas’ post-ups. The key will be Patterson defending well enough, especially with the Raptors recommitting to that end. But he has shown an ability to handle Casey’s defensive system, and it’s not as if Scola can use defense to steal the starting job.