Kawhi Leonard to skip USA Basketball mini-camp; George Hill, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added to the roster

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USA Basketball will hold a four-day mini-camp in Las Vegas following the conclusion of Summer League beginning on July 22, and while the roster was originally set to include Kawhi Leonard, that will no longer be the case.

Leonard will miss the mini-camp “while rehabbing from a long season,” USA Basketball announced on Tuesday via official release. He started all 21 playoff games for the Spurs and played 36.9 minutes per contest in the postseason, so considering that the Finals wrapped up less than a month ago, sitting this event out to get some rest makes perfect sense.

The organization also announced that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and George Hill would be added to the roster, along with Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State University.

Hill was an important part of the Pacers’ playoff run this past season, while MKG and Smart come in with prior USA Basketball experience. Kidd-Gilchrist was a member of the 2011 USA Junior Select Team that won the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit, and was a part of the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team that finished 8-0 and captured the gold medal.

The mini-camp roster now stands at 29 players, and is reprinted below in its entirety.

2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp Roster

NAME                                    POS       HGT       WGT      DOB       NBA TEAM / COLLEGE

Ryan Anderson                        F            6-10        240      05/06/88    New Orleans Pelicans / California

Harrison Barnes                       F            6-8          210      05/30/92    Golden State Warriors / North Carolina

Bradley Beal                             G           6-5          207      06/28/93    Washington Wizards / Florida

Mike Conley                            G            6-1          185      10/11/87    Memphis Grizzlies / Ohio State

DeMarcus Cousins                    C          6-11        270      08/13/90    Sacramento Kings / Kentucky

Anthony Davis                        F/C          6-10        220      03/11/93    New Orleans Pelicans / Kentucky

DeMar DeRozan                      G            6-7          216      08/07/89    Toronto Raptors / USC

Andre Drummond                    C            6-10        270      09/10/93    Detroit Pistons / Connecticut

Kenneth Faried                        F             6-8          228      11/19/89    Denver Nuggets / Morehead State

Derrick Favors                       F/C          6-10        248      07/15/91    Utah Jazz / Georgia Tech

Paul George                            F/G         6-8          221      05/02/90    Indiana Pacers / Fresno State

Taj Gibson                               F            6-9          225      06/24/85    Chicago Bulls / USC

Gordon Hayward                      F           6-8          210      03/23/90    Utah Jazz / Butler

George Hill                               G           6-2          190      05/04/86    Indiana Pacers / IUPUI

Jrue Holiday                             G           6-4          205      06/12/90    New Orleans Pelicans / UCLA

Kyrie Irving                             G           6-3          191      03/23/92    Cleveland Cavaliers / Duke

DeAndre Jordan                       C           6-11        265      07/21/88    Los Angeles Clippers / Texas A&M

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist             F           6-7          232      09/26/93    Charlotte Bobcats / Kentucky

Ty Lawson                               G           5-11        195      11/03/87    Denver Nuggets / North Carolina

Damian Lillard                         G           6-3          195      07/15/90    Portland Trail Blazers / Weber State

Greg Monroe                            C          6-11        250      06/04/90    Detroit Pistons / Georgetown

Chandler Parsons                     F           6-9          227      10/25/88    Houston Rockets / Florida

Larry Sanders                           C           6-11        235      11/21/88    Milwaukee Bucks / VCU

Marcus Smart                           G           6-4          200      03/06/94    Oklahoma State University (2016)

Klay Thompson                       G           6-7          205      02/08/90    Golden State Warriors / Washington State

Dion Waiters                           G            6-4          215      12/10/91    Cleveland Cavaliers / Syracuse

Kemba Walker                          G          6-1          184      05/08/90    Charlotte Bobcats / Connecticut

John Wall                                G            6-4          195      09/06/90    Washington Wizards / Kentucky

Tyler Zeller                             F/C          7-0          250      01/17/90    Cleveland Cavaliers / North Carolina

 

Managing Director:  Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball

Head Coach:  Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University

Assistant Coach:  Jim Boeheim, Syracuse University

Assistant Coach:  Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

Assistant Coach:  Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans

Athletic Trainer:  Gregg Farnam, Minnesota Timberwolves

Athletic Trainer:  Joe Sharpe, Oklahoma City Thunder

Athletic Trainer:  Jon Ishop, New Orleans Pelicans

Report: Gregg Popovich met with Kawhi Leonard in San Diego

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Don’t count the San Antonio Spurs out of the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes just yet.

We have been waiting on pins and needles to see whether or not Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would meet with the apparently disgruntled Leonard this week before San Antonio approaches Thursday night’s NBA draft.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Leonard and Popovich met on Tuesday night in San Diego where Leonard has been working out.

Via Twitter:

For what it is worth, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reporterd that Popovich has not yet met with Leonard, but is traveling to Southern California to meet with the Spurs forward. Even further, Leonard has reportedly requested a trade to Los Angeles from the Spurs, specifically to the Lakers.

Via ESPN:

Leonard wants a trade to Los Angeles, preferably the Lakers over the Clippers, league sources said. He has privately maintained that he no longer wants to play in San Antonio, and will eventually alert rival teams considering trades for him that his intentions are to sign in Los Angeles — preferably with the Lakers — when he can become a free agent in 2019, league sources said.

Leonard had told confidants that he did not want to sit down with Popovich and has been purposely difficult for the Spurs to reach recently. Among the issues, Leonard is angry over what he believes was the Spurs’ mishandling of a quad injury, and remains irate with public comments out of teammate Tony Parker and Popovich that he felt were not supportive of him, league sources said.

We had to know this was coming. San Antonio wasn’t going to let Leonard dictate the terms of his departure from Texas all by himself. Although Leonard has put the Spurs in a tough situation given his reported open request to play in Los Angeles, no doubt both parties would be better off from a basketball perspective if they were together. San Antonio apparently doesn’t want to make a deal with a Western Conference team, either.

Since the Spurs were trying to get in touch with Leonard before Thursday’s big selection night, it could be a signal that Leonard is on the move. Several teams, including the Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be interested in Leonard’s services.

Rumor: Cavaliers could have trade interest in Kemba Walker

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to do everything in their power to retain LeBron James. They are also doing everything they can do to prepare themselves for if James decides to leave Cleveland once and for all.

Last week we heard rumors about how the Cavaliers were trying to prepare an offer to snag Kawhi Leonard away from the San Antonio Spurs. That move could be seen either as an intent to entice James to stay, or as a replacement for The King.

Now, we have rumor that the Cavaliers could be interested in acquiring an Eastern Conference point guard, presumably to help LeBron next season.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers have inquired to the Charlotte Hornets about the availability of point guard Kemba Walker.

Walker, 28, just became the Hornets all-time leading scorer this last season. The University of Connecticut product has just one year left on his current deal at $12 million, and could be both a good rental for a season as a means to bolster another James Finals run, or as a focal piece moving forward.

As is the issue with any package for Leonard, a trade to the Cavaliers from Charlotte for Walker really depends on what a third trade partner can bring into the mix. Not many of Cleveland’s young players have performed well enough to be used as trade bait for marquee guys. That necessarily means that Kevin Love will be the main trade bait, and it is tough for many teams to have interest in the sharp-shooting forward given many already have that position filled.

We are just 48 hours away from the 2018 NBA Draft and no doubt rumors like this will continue to heat up as we get closer to 4 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night.

Michael Porter Jr. compares himself to Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo

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It has been rumored that Michael Porter Jr could be the player the Sacramento Kings draft at No. 2 overall on Thursday night in the 2018 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, according to Porter himself, there is good reason for his sudden leap up the draft boards.

Speaking on CBS Sports Radio on Monday, Porter said that he thought the players he most compared to right now were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Tracy McGrady.

Of course, the context here is that Porter was prompted to give a current NBA comparison, and as a shooter and physical player, he was unlikely to compare himself to a role player. Still, it’s a bold statement from Porter to say that he is akin to the second best player in the league at this moment. Durant has a skill set that hasn’t been replicated or really seen in the NBA, so it’s tough for anyone to really compare themselves to him.

Here is the quote, transcribed thanks to Deadspin:

Right now, I’m a little, I’m a mix of Giannis and KD. You know, I like going to the hole a little more than KD does, I like bumping into people a little more physical than KD. But I also, you know I like to shoot the ball more than Giannis. So that’s what I like to compare myself to. Then also Tracy McGrady. I get compared to him a lot and I like that one a lot too. You know, those are three amazing players. So it doesn’t feel bad to be in the same conversation as them.

In a recent interview with Dime Magazine, Porter said that he thinks Durant is the best player in the league, particularly when he plays against LeBron James. So really, Porder compared himself to the best player in the league.

The Missouri product has a litany of both character and injury questions. Rumors are abound about how well he will fit into an NBA locker room, and he famously decamped to Missouri Lorenzo Romar was fired in Washington.

Porder sat out most of the year with a nagging back injury, and had to call off some of his draft workouts because of a hip issue. Porter has tried to downplay his injury concerns, and has said that former Portland Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy told him to remain patient through injury.

The draft is less than 48 hours away, and most believe that taking Porter at No. 2 is a huge risk for the Kings. We will see just how confident Sacramento is about Porter’s ability to become an NBA teammate and stay healthy here soon enough.

Michael Jordan will still have input on Hornets draft day decisions

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan hired proven general manager Mitch Kupchak this offseason to help turn around a franchise mired in mediocrity since he became the Charlotte Hornets’ majority owner eight years ago.

But that doesn’t mean the highly competitive Jordan won’t have input on personnel decisions, beginning with the NBA draft on Thursday night.

Kupchak said in a pre-draft news conference Tuesday that he’ll have final say in who the Hornets select before quickly adding, “well, with the exception of one person – and obviously that’s ownership.”

Kupchak has won 10 NBA championships, including seven as an executive with the Los Angeles Lakers – so he knows a thing or two about building a winning roster. But he’s quickly learning that Jordan, who many consider the best NBA player ever, is still very much a hands-on owner when it comes to the players he employs.

And Kupchak understands that.

“There is a huge business component to our relationship,” Kupchak said.

Kupchak said he has communicated with Jordan on the phone and via text throughout the draft evaluation process. The 55-year-old Jordan arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday and the two have been studying tape on potential draft picks since.

The Hornets, who have failed to make the playoffs three of the past four seasons, have the 11th overall pick in the draft.

Kupchak has known Jordan since he was a freshman at the University of North Carolina.

However, Kupchak said that while they both are former Tar Heels, he never had considered Jordan a friend prior to being hired this past offseason to replace Rich Cho as Hornets general manager.

Since then they have had dinner together and gotten to know each other a little more.

He said the relationship has changed for the better.

“Hopefully when all is said and done, our other relationship, which is our friend relationship continues to grow and is not altered in any way,” Kupchak said. “There are no favors being done here. We’re friends and I think we’ll remain friends, but the bottom line in this business is success and winning games.”

Kupchak was rather forthcoming in the team’s pre-draft press conference Tuesday, saying the does not expect to trade the 11th overall pick.

He also said he expects that the handful of top-notch big men will be off the board by the time the Hornets make their selection.

“Right now I think the best player on the board is the player we are going to go after – and I’d expect that player to be a guard or a wing,” Kupchak said. “… I think we expect that we will be looking at guards and wings, but we will see.”