We brought you the news of Roy Hibbert working behind the scenes to cut through a tremendous amount of red tape in an effort that, if successful, would give him the opportunity to play for Team USA in international basketball competition.
The problem is that Hibbert once played for Jamaica, and although he was born in the U.S. and has dual citizenship with both countries, FIBA has strict rules in place that make it difficult, though not impossible, for a player to switch teams.
There is a rule in place that would appear to give Hibbert a glimmer of hope in this process, though chances are viewed as slim that he would meet the criteria necessary to allow him to be a part of USA Basketball.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
The little-known rule states that a player who has represented one country after the age of 17 may “exceptionally request” that FIBA allow him to play for another country’s national team if that national team is “of the player’s country of origin” and if the request is deemed to be “in the interest of the development of basketball in that country.”
While Hibbert satisfies half of those requirements, having been born a New Yorker, I’m told USAB’s pessimism stems from the fact that it would be a gargantuan stretch to convince FIBA that adding the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star center to Mike Krzyzewski’s roster would have even a sliver of impact on the state of the game in this country.
And that’s the issue.
Hibbert’s addition would be big, both literally and figuratively, for Team USA moving forward, as a dominant inside presence is really all that’s missing from a team stacked at every other position.
But there’s no impact at all to the game of basketball in the U.S. whether Hibbert does or does not play, and that sticking point is what will likely keep him from ever joining the roster.
Back on their home court, the Orlando Magic are hanging right with the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the 1-1 series.
It looked like the Magic would go into halftime down by at least six, and then Terrence Ross did this.
Ross’ name came up a lot just before the trade deadline when other teams thought the Magic would decide to tank and move on from their players who could bring back assets to help the rebuild. The Magic were 10 games below .500 and four games out of the eight seed. Orlando decided instead to push for the postseason, and they made their first playoffs since the Dwight Howard era, climbing all the way to the seven seed. That would not have happened without Ross.
Now they are making the most of their opportunity.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are listing Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 4 of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.
Embiid has been bothered by a sore left knee, but was able to play in the first two games of the series. He warmed up before Game 3 on Thursday night before it was decided that he couldn’t play.
Embiid worked out Friday at the 76ers’ practice in New York but coach Brett Brown said he didn’t know and didn’t have a gut feeling about whether his All-Star center would be able to go Saturday afternoon.
The 76ers rolled to a 131-115 victory without Embiid and lead the series 2-1. Greg Monroe started at center and had nine points and 13 rebounds, although is role was limited as the game wore on.
Rob Pelinka seems to have all the front office power in Los Angeles — whether that is wise is another conversation entirely — and he is continuing full speed ahead with the search for the next Lakers’ coach.
Pelinka reportedly has already been in Philadelphia and met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams, who is still busy coaching a playoff team. Miami assistant coach Juwan Howard also reportedly in the mix and is supposed to meet with Pelinka next week.
Friday came the report Pelinka was about to meet with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This has been expected.
Lue and Williams are considered the frontrunners, and both have a relationship with LeBron James that would net a thumbs up from the Lakers’ star. Lue coached LeBron to a championship in Cleveland, and while a lot of casual fans like to rip his coaching by the end of his time with the Cavaliers he was running some pretty creative stuff and getting players into good matchups and positions.
Williams is a former Pelicans’ head coach who also has a strong relationship with Anthony Davis (not that the hiring of a coach would have any impact on where Davis is traded, however, if he leaves where he is traded as a free agent in 2020 the coach could be a factor). Williams has spent time in the Spurs front office and on the coaching bench for the Sixers and Thunder. Williams’ strength is the perception he is not LeBron’s guy, unlike Lue.
Wojnarowski also said that Lue is pushing back on the idea he is LeBron’s coach, saying he would be coaching the Lakers not just one player. In Cleveland, Lue had the trust of LeBron and that allowed the coach to challenge his star at points.
Minnesota may have settled on its coach for next season — Ryan Saunders seems to have a lock on the position — and are now working backward to hire his boss, the new president of basketball operations.
That could be former Pistons legend and current ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups, or Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon, both of whom have interviews coming up with Minnesota’s leadership, according to reports.
Billups has the most recognizable name of the group and a high basketball IQ, but he also has zero front office experience. While Billups has shown interest in other GM/basketball ops jobs before, there are some around the league questioning if Minnesota owner Glen Taylor is going to pay what it would take to get Billups out of ESPN. That said, there will at least be a conversation.
Minnesota also has met with Clippers GM Michael Winger, Rockets’ No. 2 Gersson Rosas, and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth. This is a strong lineup of people from the “guys who have paid their dues and deserve a shot” file.”
Whoever takes over the job will fill the shoes of Tom Thibodeau, who was let go mid-season and who hamstrung the roster with his win-now decisions. In the positives column, Minnesota has All-NBA level player in Karl-Anthony Towns at the heart of the roster. After KAT there is work to do. Andrew Wiggins will make $27.5 million next season and has four more seasons after that at max money (right now that contract is as close to untradable as any in the NBA). Gorgui Dieng will make $16.2 million, and Jeff Teague opted into his $19 million. Lowering the cost of this roster while turning the Timberwolves back into a playoff team will require a lot of creativity.