Rajon Rondo has never seemed all that interested in playing for Team USA. He kind of brushed off the initial invite to participate in this summer’s tryout (He apparently couldn’t be bothered to get back to Team USA czar Jerry Colangelo), and though he was officially added to the national team’s roster last week, he doesn’t seem particularly psyched about the opportunity to rep his country alongside Kevin Durant and Amar’e Stoudemire.
From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:
[Rondo] was downright indecisive Sunday when it came to his possible participation with the USA Basketball National Team that begins practicing Monday in Las Vegas. “I might not know until later tonight,” Rondo told FanHouse late Sunday afternoon. “I don’t have a plane ticket yet, but I might still get one.”
…”I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” he said, then ended the interview by answering his cell phone. He left the locker room before returning to the topic of USA Basketball. Clearly, he was having doubts about going to Las Vegas for the start of practice, which would put his participation for the rest of the summer in jeopardy.
Rondo was a bit of an odd fit to begin with (point guards without a consistent shooting stroke tend to fair poorly in international competition), but his callous disregard for the Team USA program represents exactly what Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski have been actively trying to avoid. Consistency and professionalism were declared paramount for the new-school national team, and with Rondo not only disinterested but a bit disrespectful to Colangelo, the program, and his potential teammates, Team USA would be wise to invest more in Rajon’s talented and more interested contemporaries.
For the record: There’s nothing wrong with Rondo’s disregard for the program. If he doesn’t want to play, he shouldn’t. But there are better ways to relay that message to the Team USA brass than his current course of action.
Even if Rondo would have been the best PG available with Chris Paul and Deron Williams sitting out this summer, there are still some pretty decent alternatives. Chauncey Billups is the favorite to grab the starting job for the FIBA World Championships, but Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tyreke Evans, and Steph Curry will all receive consideration at the Vegas mini-camp.
It’s all about LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
At least for the gambling public. With the return of the NBA set for July in a 22-team format, the NBA futures odds to win the title have gone up at sportsbooks. Not surprisingly, LeBron and the Lakers, and Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, are the betting favorites. Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are close behind, with a considerable drop off after that.
Here are the current odds (with money won on a $100 bet):
|Los Angeles Lakers
|Los Angeles Clippers
|Oklahoma City Thunder
|New Orleans Pelicans
|Portland Trail Blazers
|San Antonio Spurs
A few quick thoughts:
• Brooklyn is only at 60/1 odds because of Kevin Durant‘s possible return to the court — except that’s not happening. Even if he could, Kyrie Irving is not recovered from his March surgery yet, and no way KD is coming back without Irving.
• Along those same lines, John Wall is not returning for the Wizards this season.
• The best bet on the board? I would say the Clippers.
• If I had to bet who will end up with the eighth seed in the West, I would take Portland. New Orleans and Memphis both have a legitimate shot, but Portland gets Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins both back, and that was a 50+ win team with those two the season before.
• I’m basing my thoughts on what happened before March 11, and all of that feels somewhat irrelevant heading into this unprecedented situation.
The NBA is back!
Or will be in July, at least, when 22 teams report to Orlando to play in a format that will see eight “seeding” games followed by potential play-in games for the eighth seed. After that, it’s a regular playoffs — no 1-16 seed but still East and West — with seven-game series each round.
Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman from NBC Sports, along with our friend Keith Smith — who lives in Orlando near the Disney property and has been all over this story from the start — break down the format and whether this is a format that provides enough safety to the players and staffs in Orlando.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.
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Gregg Popovich is 71. Mike D’Antoni is 68. Alvin Gentry just turned 65.
People 65 and older have proven particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control says 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States are people 65 and older.
As the NBA heads to the Walt Disney World resort complex in Orlando to resume the season, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed concern for some of the league’s older coaches during an interview on TNT.
“There are people involved in this league, particularly coaches, who are obviously older people…” Silver said. “We’re going to have to work through protocols, for example, and it may be certain coaches may not able to be the bench coach. They may have to maintain social distancing protocols, and maybe they can be in the front of a room, a locker room… with a whiteboard, but when it comes to actual play we’re not going to want that that close to players in order to protect them.”
You can guess how that went over with D’Antoni and Gentry (and, likely, Popovich).
Pretty quickly, Silver was walking his statement back. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, president of the NBA Coach’s Association, was quickly on the phone with Silver.
The league may want to take coaches who are members of vulnerable populations and find a way to add layers of protection for them, but keeping them from coaching their teams would be an incredibly tough sell to everyone around the league.
ASSOCIATED PRESS — The NCAA has set a new schedule for early entrants to the NBA draft to withdraw and return to school.
The NCAA announced Thursday that it would give players until 10 days after the NBA scouting combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes earlier. This comes three weeks after the NCAA postponed its deadline, which was originally scheduled to fall on Wednesday.
That June 3 deadline was set to come 10 days after the completion of the combine, but the NBA postponed the combine amid the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to announce a new date.
The NBA has announced the date of the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery, now set for August 25. Traditionally the NBA Draft Combine would follow a few days after that, although there has been no official announcement.
The NCAA’s date will force players to decide whether or not to stay in the draft before the combine takes place, or even before many have found out if they are invited. Some players who might otherwise have returned to school now likely will keep their name in the draft, only to not get a combine invite.
In a statement, the NCAA said the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee worked with the National Association of Basketball Coaches on the new timeline and “believes this is the most equitable alternative available in these unprecedented circumstances.”
“This provides the utmost flexibility to student-athletes testing the waters to make the most informed decision about their future during this uncertain time,” NCAA Senior Vice President for Basketball Dan Gavitt said in the statement.