Cousins calls USA Select Team experience “political”

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DeMarcus Cousins had a bumpy time as a member of the USA Select Team this summer, playing against the London Olympians during training camp.

He got called out publicly by USA basketball president Jerry Colangelo for being too physical in scrimmages against the stars. I’ll add that I was in Vegas and Colangelo wasn’t the only one saying it. Kobe Bryant said that when Cousins keeps his head down and focuses on his game he is fine but when he lets his emotions get the best of him things go wrong.

Cousins wasn’t keeping his head down in an interview with Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated. Cousins was the full, unfiltered Cousins through the entire interview, including when Amick asked him if he enjoyed his time with Team USA.

“I didn’t enjoy it,” he said of the experience. “I went out there, and … I’m not going to say I didn’t learn anything from it, because I did. But it was just, in my mind, another political battle. I learned more about politics. I saw the work ethic of the so-called elite in the league, and I took some notes from that and took that back with me. But as far as the rest of it? No.

“Honestly, the scrimmages were one-sided the whole time. To even have a chance, you had to play hard as hell. We were out there getting our heads knocked off, and if they’re going to play physical, then I’m going to play physical back. I’m not out there trying to start fights — just trying to stand on my own. But I guess the ignorance of people is they take it as being immature.”

Of course the scrimmages were one-sided, did you see the Team USA lineup? LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul and you bring guys like Carmelo Anthony off the bench? The Select Team isn’t going to win those games, but they are going to put up the best fight the Olympians were going to face until the Spain game. But these are still your teammates, so you play within certain bounds of convention — nobody wants to see anybody hurt.

Anthony Davis ended up being put on the Olympic team, Cousins was not.

Cousins couldn’t adjust. His emotions got the best of him.

We’ll see how much he learned from that as we move ahead into the new season where he will be the heart of the Kings.

Report: Spurs signing Donatas Motiejunas

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In 2016, both the Pistons (who agreed to trade for him) and the Rockets (who agreed to match his offer sheet from the Nets) failed Donatas Motiejunas on physicals. He finally signed a prorated minimum contract with the Pelicans for 2016-17. He has spent the last two seasons in China. It has been rough for him.

Now, Motiejunas is somewhat surprisingly returning to the NBA.

ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a deal with veteran Donatas Motiejunas, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

San Antonio needed another big man after buying out Pau Gasol, who signed with the Bucks. Motiejunas provides depth behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl.

The 7-foot Motiejunas is capable inside and out. But NBA centers have gotten so good at 3-point shooting so quickly. I’m not sure Motiejunas remains ahead of the curve on the perimeter.

Whatever his current ability, he should at least fit well with the Spurs. They maximize skilled bigs.

Physical therapist: LeBron James should have missed six months

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The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.

He missed more than five weeks.

Maybe he should have sat even longer.

Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:

Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.

Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.

Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.

There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.

What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?

The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.

The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.

Kyrie Irving on whether returning to Cleveland means something to him: ‘Not at all’

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Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.

With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.

Jared Weiss of The Athletic:

Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.

He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.

Lakers fan barely moves net while making halfcourt shot (video)

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The Lakers have had a rough season.

Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.

The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.

CJ Fogler:

The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.