Pistons owner Tom Gores will address Joe Dumars’ fate swiftly after season

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Before the season, Pistons owner Tom Gores said the playoffs were minimum goal and Joe Dumars’ job was safe.

Well, barring a miracle, Detroit will miss the postseason for the fifth straight season.

Is Dumars’ job still safe?

David Mayo of MLive:

Whether there is a front-office overhaul or not, Gores said it not a decision that will be allowed to fester.

“Yeah, after the season, we’re going to address it right away,” he said.  “We have to.  We have to let the season play out, then we’ve got to get it done.”

The last time Gores said he’d make a decision quickly after the season, he fired Lawrence Frank.

At this point, it would be shocking to see Dumars return. His contract expires after season, and he’s really stumbled these last several years. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were disastrous signings in 2009, and Dumars sent what could be a prime lottery pick to the Bobcats to escape Gordon’s deal one year early. He used the resulting cap space on Josh Smith, who might require a lottery sweetener of his own attached to any trade that sends him out.

Gores also addressed Maurice Cheeks’ firing, making this the first time he or Dumars has spoken publicly about it.

“I feel it was the right thing to do and I feel good about it,” Gores said in his first public comments on the firing, save for a press release.  “This is a very young team, a very young team.  So we have to put them in a position grow as much as possible, and I felt like they were not in a position to grow as much as possible.  So I feel good about it.”

Gores said interim coach John Loyer is “doing a great job,” even if that hasn’t been reflected in the standings.

“The team is better than their record,” Gores said.  “They just are.  They’re better than their record.  So I wouldn’t say they didn’t respond.  I would say that they’re just doing their best right now.  I believe in these guys.  I believe in this team.”

Gores seemingly went over Dumars to fire Cheeks, further indicating Dumars is on his way out. That Gores still stands by the firing so resolutely shows he’s not exactly re-thinking his plan in order to give Dumars more control.

In so many ways, the writing is on the wall.

To give Gores credit, it was good for the franchise he addressed the Cheeks firing – even if the circumstances were eye-roll-inducing. Gores never should have gone this long without speaking to the media about Cheeks, and it shouldn’t have take a game a month-and-a-half later in Los Angeles, where Gores lives and the Pistons played the Clippers Saturday, for it to happen.

But the Pistons are honoring the 25th anniversary of their first championship when they play the Heat on Friday. It would have been poor taste to distract from those festivities to address Cheeks (and even poorer taste to keep ignoring it). By getting it out of the way, Gores can put the attention back on members of that 1988-89 team and those celebrating them Friday.

Though that might backfire.

I suspect Dumars – and, if he’s introduced to the crowd, Gores – will be be booed heartily by Detroit fans.

C.J.McCollum, Eric Gordon both withdraw from USA Basketball for World Cup

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First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.

Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.

The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.

USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:

Damian Lillard
Bradley Beal
Khris Middleton
Tobias Harris
Andre Drummond

Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.

That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.

USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.

James Harden reiterates it was ‘false talk’ he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

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NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.