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

Kobe Bryant in Big3 next year? One league co-founder says yes.

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Ice Cube — the hip-hop legend, actor, and co-founder of the Big3 — knows Kobe Bryant, because he’s Ice Cube and everyone wants to know him. Cube has said every time he sees Kobe he tries to get the former Laker to join the Big3, and every time Kobe shoots him down.

But Friday, Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz said he expects Kobe will play in the league next year.

It was during a conference call to promote the Big3 title game (this Friday night in Brooklyn, and broadcast on Fox at 8p.m.). Myself and other media on that call did a double take (if you can do that on a phone call). Everyone else on the call from the Big3 let it die.

This came after last weekend when a reporter asked Stephen Jackson if Kobe could handle the Big3, to which Jackson offered to slap the reporter then basically begged Bryant to join the league

.Don’t bet on it happening.

First, Kwatinetz says a lot of things and has grand ambitions for the league, as he should, but what he says also should be taken with plenty of salt. This year more name stars did jump in — Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Metta World Peace — but Kobe would be another level (or three). The league would love to land him (or Kevin Garnett, or Paul Pierce) but so far that level of recent star has eluded the Big3. Someday that likely will change.

But not with Kobe.

Kobe was as well prepared for life after basketball as any NBA player ever can be. He’s got other interests and threw himself into those — he won an Oscar — plus has kept his toes in the NBA waters talking to and working out with young players such as Jaylen Brown. Also, he’s done a film breakdown series for ESPN. He’s spent more time with his family. All of which is to say, he may miss basketball but he’s got a full plate.

Ice Cube will keep asking Kobe, and one should never say never. But until Kobe comes out and says he’s in, don’t bet on seeing this happen.

 

Marcus Morris smoked marijuana to deal with anxiety while with Pistons

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When the Suns traded Marcus Morris to the Pistons, he called it “betrayal.”

It wasn’t that, but it’s also worth understanding why he felt that way – and what it means in a greater context.

Marcus signed a below-market contract extension to stay with his twin brother Markieff Morris in Phoenix. That was foolish, because it made Marcus more tradable – and the Suns dealt him. Marcus just didn’t understand enough about how the NBA operated.

Why did he make that error? At least in part because he was blinded by a very understandable loyalty to Markieff.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

When the twins were in high school, their house burned down with their family cat trapped inside. Their mother, Angel, moved them and their brother Blake into a small home in Hunting Park with their maternal grandparents, a tight squeeze for teenage boys who would grow to be nearly 6-foot-10. They lived in the basement and slept on a mattress, with no heat and a ceiling that was only 6½ feet high, which made it impossible for them to fully stand up. Yet they were grateful, because at least they had family who cared. Only one in 20 of their friends had a father around — the twins’ dad was nowhere to be seen, either — and their mother worked long hours so she could pay for their basketball shoes and something to eat at supper. The twins leaned on each other for companionship, solace and courage.

“We were just trying to survive every day,” Marcus says. “As a kid, it’s fun for a minute. You don’t see yourself in any danger. Once you become a teenager, you’re unprotected. Now you’re a target. If you’re wearing some Jordans, they’re coming for you. There were plenty of times I had to protect myself. You walk out the door every day looking around, watching your back, just trying to stay out of the line of fire.

“You see shootings, pistol whippings. One wrong decision, one wrong word, and it escalates so quickly into a full-blown war. It’s like that in Philly. You’re trapped in a box. Your opportunity is so small, so once a person gets ahold of something, they protect it with their life. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t lived it.

“We just walked out stressed all the time. I said to my brother once, ‘You know, this is no way to live.'”

The Morris’ situation is unique, but it’s not totally atypical. The black experience in America has always been subject to large amounts of violence. Redlining continues to keep black people in more violent neighborhoods with more poverty, worse schools and harsher policing – elements that continue the cycle.

Those stressors contribute to mental-health issues, and if the NBA – whose players are predominantly black – is concerned about mental health, it can’t ignore this greater context.

The Suns didn’t sound like they empathized. Marcus began his pro career in Houston, and it didn’t sound like Rockets general manager Daryl Morey – who doesn’t have the best track record of discussing mental health – knew how to relate to Marcus, either. MacMullan:

That summer, he refused to go to Houston for offseason workouts and wouldn’t answer calls from the Rockets’ staff. “[Rockets general manager] Daryl Morey is telling me, ‘You’re hurting your career,’ but I was thinking, ‘Well, you guys are hurting my career,'” Morris recalls. “I didn’t trust them. I didn’t trust anybody.”

The results weren’t better in Detroit, either. MacMullan:

Morris couldn’t sleep because his mind was racing all the time. The Pistons tried to make him feel welcome, but he wasn’t very responsive. He was often up all night replaying a missed shot or a mistake on the floor, and his play was suffering. He seriously considered quitting, but what would he do? Go back to Philly? That notion led to more anxiety, more stress. He tried sleeping pills. He smoked marijuana. Nothing granted him peace.

I’m very curious how this will be received. White coaches Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson admitted to smoking marijuana to help with pain after back surgeries, and people were generally understanding. Black player Larry Sanders – trying to cope with anxiety, depression and mood disorders – essentially got run out of the league for using marijuana and espousing its benefits.

White people get more benefit of the doubt on drug use. Physical pain is taken more seriously than mental pain.

Marijuana isn’t the answer for everyone dealing with anxiety and stress, because there is no single answer for everyone. But criminalizing marijuana – banned legally in many places and by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement – isn’t the answer. The appropriateness of marijuana for NBA players should be explored.

Perhaps it will be as we remove the stigma around mental health. Players like Marcus Morris opening up about their issues is a huge step forward – and especially important one considering the NBA’s majority-black demographics.

It sounds as if Morris is getting far better help from the Celtics. I highly recommend reading MacMullan’s full article for more on that and how mental health and race intersect as it pertains to the NBA.

NBA rookies agree on little, but Trae Young’s shooting and playmaking supremacy comes closest

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You might see stories today about Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr.‘s peers picking him to have the best career among this rookie class. After all, he was the top vote-getter in that category in the NBA’s annual rookie survey.

But 87% of polled rookies chose someone else. That Carter’s 13% of votes led means only so much.

That was the story throughout the survey.

The leaders for predicted Rookie of the Year (tie between Suns’ Deandre Ayton and Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton), biggest steal based on where he was drafted (Timberwolves’ Keita Bates-Diop), most athletic (76ers’ Zhaire Smith) and best defender (Grizzlies’ Jevon Carter) each received less than 30% of the vote in their category. In other words, more than two-thirds of polled players picked a rookie other than the leader in each category.

The exceptions: best shooter (Hawks’ Trae Young at 47%) and best playmaker (Young at 35%). But even he didn’t get a majority of votes. Still, I appreciate many of his peers recognizing his passing ability. That’s his best skill, not the deep shooting that draws so much attention.

Report: Mavericks awaiting potential NBA punishment due to predatory work environment

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The Mavericks’ investigation into their predatory work environment is progressing more slowly than some expected.

The latest holdup?

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

The investigation into the Mavericks’ front-office scandal remains in idle, awaiting input and possible sanctions from the NBA as well as ensuring that details in the investigators’ report are double-checked, sources said Monday.

The hope is that the results can be made public next week. But there is no firm timetable.

Hopefully, the Mavericks identify and fix problems in their organization. No employees should be subject to sexual harassment. That’s most important.

But there will also be a close eye on how the league responds, specifically whether penalties affect the team on the court. NBA fans won’t see the most significant changes in Dallas. Most Mavericks employees are out of sight, out of mind. But fans will watch the players perform, and forfeited draft picks or anything like that will draw more attention.