Could ‘Melo’s role with D’Antoni cost him a spot on Team USA?

20 Comments

Mike Krzyzewski and the coaches of Team USA have some very tough decisions ahead of them as they trim the list of 20 candidates down to 12 who get to suit up in London this summer for the Olympics.

Look at the power forward spot. You only really need three and the guys on that finals list include Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony. (Yes in the NBA ‘Melo is a three, but in international ball where you need a stretch four he plays mostly in that spot.)

One of the guys getting input on those cuts — Mike D’Antoni. The deposed Knicks coach. Anthony didn’t go to Knicks management and say “fire this guy” but his clashes and effort made it clear one of them had to go. And the elite players always beat the coach in the power struggle. Always. Then Anthony has admitted he is trying harder for D’Antoni’s replacement Mike Woodson.

But with Team USA D’Antoni has more power and putting together a team that fits well matters. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com spoke with an international basketball source about this very issue.

Among the greatest honors and marketing opportunities NBA stars have is to play with Team USA in the Olympics, and a person with ties to international basketball told CBSSports.com that Anthony’s role in D’Antoni’s demise — however unintended — did not sit well with USA Basketball authorities. D’Antoni, of course, is an assistant coach with Team USA. Anthony is by no means a coach killer, but his hold on a prominent role with the team in the London Olympics could be jeopardized by how his body of work with the Knicks is viewed by Team USA officials….

“I don’t even think Carmelo is thinking about this, but I think it’s going to hurt him,” the international basketball source said. “I don’t think he’s playing as well as the other power forwards are right now. He’s not a bad guy, but he needs to start playing better because the USA team is looking at that, and Mike is an assistant. It should not be given to him.”

I think in the end Anthony is there in London, and not just because Nike wants it. Although that helps. But ‘Melo’s game fits very well in international ball — he may have been Team USA’s third best player in Beijing four years ago. He can play inside and out and — with team USA — has been great about molding his game into the team concept.

If Team USA really is about winning, they need to bring Anthony. (Of that group listed above I’d leave Griffin home because his jumper is not nearly as steady as the other three.) But if they don’t the drop-off is not that steep.

Grizzlies: C.J. Miles likely out rest of season

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward C.J. Miles is expected to miss the remainder of the season after injuring his left foot over the weekend.

Miles left a 135-128 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday due to left foot soreness. The Grizzlies announced Tuesday that an MRI revealed a stress reaction.

The 6-foot-6 Miles appeared in 53 games this season for the Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. The Grizzlies acquired him from Toronto in the Marc Gasol trade Feb. 7.

Miles came off the bench in 13 games with the Grizzlies and averaged 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 22.6 minutes.

Report: Timberwolves fan called Blake Griffin ‘boy’

3 Comments

With his recent outburst at hecklers in Utah, Russell Westbrook ignited a long-overdue discussion of how fans interact with players during games. The Jazz even recently banned a fan who repeatedly called Westbrook “boy” last year.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated case of that racist language being used toward a player.

Pistons Blake Griffin confronted a fan in Minnesota in December.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The fan was seemingly ejected. The Timberwolves didn’t respond to questions whether he faced additional punishment.

I’m all for good-natured heckling. Racist taunts are completely unacceptable – and maybe still more common than we realized. Because Griffin didn’t get as enraged as Westbrook on video, this got swept under the rug.

It shouldn’t be Griffin’s responsibility to fix this. Teams must do a better job holding accountable fans who cross the line.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen left awkwardly waving to nobody after apparently offending Suns coach Igor Kokoskov (video)

2 Comments

Jim Boylen is making friends within the Bulls.

Outside the organization? Not so much.

Boylen and Doc Rivers got ejected for yelling at each other during the Clippers’ win over Chicago on Friday. Rivers blamed Boylen for instigating.

Then, Boylen called timeout with the Bulls up 14 and 40 seconds left against the Suns last night. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov appeared to take exception.

The Suns intentionally fouled, stopping Chicago from running its after-timeout play. As the game ended, Boylen gave the customary wave to the opposing coach – and was clearly rebuffed.

Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports:

Was Boylen trying to rub in the victory? He pulled his starters during the timeout, giving him plausible deniability. It’d also be reasonable to use the timeout as a teaching opportunity for running an after-timeout play.

But the Suns don’t have to like being used for practice. They’re in the midst of a trying season, especially Kokoskov. His bitterness is understandable.

I don’t think either coach was wrong here. Both were doing what was best for their teams. The Bulls should get experience running situational plays. The Suns should find motivation to no longer get treated like a pushover.

Boylen strayed further from the accepted norms, but I rarely support unwritten rules. If the Suns didn’t like it, they should have done something about it – which they did by fouling to stop Chicago’s play. It was petty, but it was well within their rights. Just like the Bulls were calling timeout.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Lakers-Bucks

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
2 Comments

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the NBA’s most popular players. They led the league in All-Star fan voting the last two years. Antetokounmpo is favored to win MVP this season, and LeBron is generally recognized as the best player in the world.

So, tonight’s Lakers-Bucks game is losing a lot of luster.

Lakers:

Bucks:

This is what happens when you get a game-winner blocked by Mario Hezonja. You must take a seat for at least one game.

The Lakers are apparently going through with a plan to rest LeBron James in one game of back-to-backs. This isn’t that. The Lakers were off yesterday then have tomorrow and Thursday off.

LeBron missed 18 games earlier this season with a groin injury. That’s the type of injury he could play through – while at risk of aggravating it. Maybe he came back before fully recovered in order to make a playoff push.

LeBron’s activated playoff mode went nowhere. The Lakers are almost certain to miss the postseason. At this point, it makes sense to be cautious with the 34-year-old LeBron.

The Bucks should also be cautious with their superstar – but for the opposite reason. Milwaukee is 2.5 games up on everyone else in the league.

Antetokounmpo injured his ankle against the 76ers on Sunday. He stayed in that game, scoring 52 points in a loss. Hopefully, this is minor. The Bucks also play the Cavaliers tomorrow, so maybe Antetokounmpo will play the other half of the back-to-back.