FIBA Americas Tournament schedule continues with Canada vs. Puerto Rico

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Friday’s action was fine at the FIBA Americas tournament down in Venezuala, but Saturday’s games should offer a bit more intrigue. Four of the top five teams will be in action in the second day of round-robin play, featuring an interesting matchup of Canada against Puerto Rico.

Both teams take 1-0 records into the first weekend of the FIBA World Cup qualifier and should likely finish as one of the top four teams by the time the championship rolls around on September 11, thereby ensuring themselves a spot at next year’s 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada’s a bit heavier on current NBA players, but Puerto Rico’s roster features enough recognizable names to make this a fun game for NBA fans to watch (and they can live and for free, too, as long as ESPN3 is an option).

Canada was dominant in their victory over Jamaica on Friday, but San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph was the only Canadian NBA player to really assert himself on the offensive end. Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson had a solidly unspectacular game with 11 points and 12 rebounds, but Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson (seven points, four boards) and Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (six points, one board) weren’t even really solid when it came to playing on offense. Canada already lacks quite a bit of firepower — Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk aren’t participating in the tournament — so it’ll be key that the ancillary NBAers step up against a more talented Puerto Rican squad.

Puerto Rico faced a tougher test on Friday when they matched up with a talented Brazil team, but former Knicks forward Renaldo Balkman carried his team to victory with 24 points and eight rebounds. The other names NBA fans are likely familiar with weren’t as impressive, however, as it took 11 shots for Minnesota Timberwolves gaurd J.J. Barea to get his 12 points and NBA journeyman Carlos Arroyo made just two of his nine attempts to finish with seven points. Ricky Sanchez, currently property of the Miami Heat, picked up four points, rebounds and fouls apiece after getting the starting nod.

Saturday’s other game to keep an eye on will happen right after Canada-Puerto Rico when the Dominican Republic’s squad takes the court against Argentina. Luis Scola’s Argentinean team essentially was gifted a bye with Paraguay on Friday (the 95-60 outcome was not as close as it appears), but the Dominican squad should pose a bit more of a challenge. Al Horford opted out of playing this year, but have no fear because Jack Michael Martinez is still here. Martinez has never played in the NBA, but his official mug shot looks like this and he’s averaging a solid 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in international competition since 2001.

Saturday’s other games feature Uruguay vs. Jamaica and the hosting Venezuela taking on Paraguay in the nightcap.

The day’s full schedule, converted to Eastern time, is included below for your convenience.

11:30 a.m. – Uruguay (0-0) vs. Jamaica (0-1)

2 p.m. – Canada (1-0) vs. Puerto Rico (1-0)

5:30 p.m. – Dominican Republic (0-0) vs. Argentina (1-0)

8 p.m. – Paraguay (0-1) vs. Venezuela (0-1)

Report: Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. not with Nuggets at Disney World

Nuggets players Gary Harris and Torrey Craig
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Nikola Jokic was delayed in joining the Nuggets after testing positive for coronavirus in Serbia.

Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. apparently aren’t with Denver, either.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

The Nuggets closed their facility two weeks ago after positive coronavirus tests. At least a week prior to that, a Western Conference playoff team reportedly had four positive coronavirus tests.

Are either of those events related to these absences?

The NBA has shown a disturbing lack of transparency around its restart.

When the season got suspended, Denver looked like a good regular-season team that’d face issues adapting to a playoff style. Now, who knows how the Nuggets will be when the season resumes? There’s so much roster uncertainty.

Harris is Denver’s starting shooting guard, and Craig and Porter have been rotation-level backup forwards. Both Harris (on smaller players) and Craig (on bigger players) have been defensive standouts with lackluster offense. Harris’ shooting struggles have been a major disappointment. For Craig, they’re an accepted limitation. Porter has shown flashes as a superb scorer, but he’s still raw.

Who knows if and when these three will join the Nuggets? Again, the lack of transparency has been frustrating. But Harris, Porter and Craig missing time would be a major setback for Denver.

Rockets star Russell Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus

Rockets star Russell Westbrook
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Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t travel with the Rockets to Orlando for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus:

It’s good that Westbrook is feeling well. And, once he had coronavirus, it’s good he tested positive before the team departed. He can quarantine in the comfort of his own home rather than a hotel room. He didn’t risk spreading coronavirus during the flight.

When will he join the Rockets? That’s tough to say. He must clear coronavirus first, and it’s unclear how long he has had it. Then, upon arrival at Disney World, he faces an in-room quarantine. The length of that can vary.

With Harden as the centerpiece, Houston has built its secondary attack around Westbrook’s aggressive style. The Rockets’ unique center-less approach is a direct response to Westbrook’s minus outside shooting. Empowered by spacing later in the season, Westbrook has really thrived.

He’d be a huge loss. Houston could go from a championship-contending wildcard to one-man show – or less.

This revelation also raises questions about Harden and Mbah a Moute, whose late arrivals haven’t been publicly explained.

Report: Rockets’ Bruno Caboclo violates quarantine, must remain in room 10 days

Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo
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Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and 76ers star Joel Embiid expressed doubt about players following the NBA’s protocols in the bubble.

See Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Players first arriving at Disney World is one of the most perilous times in the NBA’s plan. A player leaving his initial quarantine with coronavirus could undermine the whole operation.

The league has no practical choice but to be strict.

James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t arrive with the rest of the Rockets in Orlando. This makes four players who are behind in their ability to build chemistry and train with their teammates. At least Caboclo is just four days away from being four days away – major progress for him.

Houston has already clinched a playoff spot. But there’s some danger of slipping to the No. 7 seed and facing the powerful Clippers in the first round. So while they don’t have the most urgency for the seeding games, the Rockets are playing for something in the seeding games.

Lakers star LeBron James: #FreeWOJ!!

Adrian Wojnarowski
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Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley sent out a press release complaining about the NBA’s list of approved social-justice messages for jerseys.

ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski replied to the email, “F— you.” (Wojnarowski did not censor the first word.)

Wojnarowski apologized. ESPN condemned his behavior and, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, suspended him two weeks.

Several NBA players have publicly supported Wojnarowski:

Lakers star LeBron James:

Clippers guard Lou Williams:

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray:

Heat big Bam Adebayo:

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie:

Kings forward Harrison Barnes:

Pacers center Myles Turner:

Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver:

Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr.:

Trail Blazers guard Jaylen Adams:

LeBron’s message is particularly notable.

Obviously, he’s the NBA’s biggest star. His words carry weight.

Wojnarowski also has a long history of harshly criticizing LeBron. Here are just a few examples.

But if he can get over The Letter from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron can probably get past anything written about him.