The 2013 FIBA Americas Championship tournament begins in beautiful Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday morning. This is actually the fourth FIBA tournament of the year — following Asia (where Hamed Haddadi was MVP), Oceania (which was just Australia vs. New Zealand a couple of times) and Africa (where Nigeria was just upset despite featuring four players with NBA experience) — but also the one most relevant to the interests of the American basketball fan.
The first few days of the tournament will feature round-robin play in the two groups of five with the top four teams from each advancing into a second round-robin tournament to whittle the field down further to four teams. Those four teams will advance to next year’s FIBA World Cup, but they’ll also play a quick tournament to determine the FIBA Americas champion.
Friday’s action will actually feature a game matching the top two teams in the tournament when Puerto Rico and Brazil face off in Group A action. Puerto Rico’s backcourt includes Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea and its frontcourt includes Renaldo Balkman and Ricky Sanchez, among others, so they’re a team worth watching if one’s clamoring to watch NBA-type players play meaningful basketball. Brazil isn’t nearly as loaded as they could be with Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa all out of action this summer, but they’re still a team that is very fun to watch with a lot of solid players currently playing professionally in Europe — and recent Utah Jazz draftee Raul Neto plays for them, too.
The three other games on Friday feature Jamaica and Canada where Samardo Samuels vs. Tristan Thompson will likely be a featured matchup; Luis Scola’s Argentinean team taking on an overmatched squad from Paraguay and Venezuela vs. Mexico. The last one would typically be a good game, but new Venezuelan Donta Smith — formerly of the Atlanta Hawks — isn’t going to make up for the loss of Greivis Vasquez, Gregory Echenique and Oscar Torres. Mexico does feature some fun players in Gustavo Ayon, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Jorge Gutierrez, however.
The games begin at 10:30 Eastern Time and can be streamed on ESPN3 for those so inclined.
“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck, but they’ve gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win, because he’s that kind of player.”
That was the Warriors’ always outspoken Draymond Green on Inside the NBA on TNT Thursday, talking about the play of Devin Booker and the fast start of the Suns in the bubble.
The second he said it, Ernie Johnson asked, “Are you tampering?” Green said, “maybe.”
The NBA said yes and has fined Green $50,000 for “violating the league’s anti-tampering rule.”
In past years the NBA has mostly ignored player-to-player tampering, but after complaints from owners last season the league is cracking down on — at the very least — public tampering by players. Going on a popular national show to say Booker should leave Phoenix qualifies.
Just a reminder for fans of a team desperate for a star and suddenly looking at Phoenix, Booker has four years left (after this one) on his max contract extension. The Suns are building around him and Deandre Ayton — and right now it looks like it’s working (coach Monty Williams should get a lot of credit for that). The Suns aren’t looking to trade, Booker isn’t looking to leave (and has no leverage anyway), and the Suns seem to be building something real down in the Valley of the Sun.
The Bucks’ have one of the best defenses in NBA history, allowing 7.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than league average. The Mavericks have the highest offensive rating (116.5) in league history.
Something had to give.
And it was Luka Doncic – to teammate after teammate after teammate.
Doncic had 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds in Dallas’ 136-132 overtime win over Milwaukee yesterday. He was in complete control as a scorer and passer, showing just how far he has come.
The Bucks already secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they played hard, forcing overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like the MVP with 34 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
Doncic was just better.
Other than waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to subside – a possibility – the NBA faces MAJOR challenges next season.
The bubble is working for finishing this season. But that’s with just 22 teams rather than the full 30. And this is just for a few months, not a full season. Players are already bristling about how long they’re separated from their families.
Yet, what’s the alternative to a bubble? It looks like the only safe way to play professional sports.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated
We’re a ways off from next season, but league sources have told me that the NBA is looking at options that include creating regional bubbles, should the COVID-19 pandemic still prevent normal business in the fall. Teams would report to a bubble for short stints—around a month—which would be followed by 1-2 weeks off.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Orlando is a consideration, and Las Vegas — a finalist for this summer’s restart — would reemerge as a possible site too, sources said.
This is an interesting possibility.
Smaller bubbles would reduce the odds of a coronavirus outbreak that undermines the whole league. But what happens if one bubble has coronavirus issues? Teams’ schedules could get significantly unbalanced quickly.
The shorter bubble lengths would allow players to spend time with family more frequently. But how many players would contract coronavirus while between bubbles? Look how many players got coronavirus during this last layoff.
There are no easy solutions amid this pandemic. This is one of many imperfect ideas that should at least be considered.
The NBA bringing the “Delete Eight” teams to its Disney World bubble to train as other teams depart?
Like other plans for the Knicks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Hornets, Timberwolves and Warriors… it’s not happening.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The NBPA has no interest in that idea, sources said. It’s a non-starter. The inevitable solution for the eight teams left out of Orlando: The NBA and NBPA agreeing upon voluntary workouts in the team facilities, sources said.
The NBPA won’t agree to mandatory reporting for players on the eight teams outside of the restart but will eventually allow it on a voluntary level, sources said.
Bringing those other eight teams to the Disney World bubble was always a ridiculous idea. Why would the NBA jeopardize its highly profitable setup just so some lousy teams could train and maybe hold glorified scrimmages?
Voluntary team workouts are a reasonable allowance. Though it’s difficult to ensure players coming and going from a team facility won’t spread coronavirus, some players are playing basketball in groups, anyway. At their own facilities, teams can at least enforce protocols to increase safety. And players who’d rather be more careful wouldn’t be forced to participate.
There’s no reason to make anything mandatory. These eight teams’ seasons are over.