Colangelo says Rudy Gay has ‘a legitimate chance’ to make USA Basketball roster

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CHICAGO — Rudy Gay was a late addition to this summer’s USA Basketball roster, joining the team after mini-camp in Las Vegas had ended and only being needed by the squad thanks to the unfortunate injury suffered by Paul George.

But even though he came aboard less than a week ago and went through his first practice with the team Thursday as training camp resumed in Chicago, Jerry Colangelo believes that Gay has a very real shot at making the 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup, which tips off later this month.

“Yes, he does have a legitimate chance,” Colangelo said. “Rudy was on our 2010 World Championship team. He made a great contribution there, he’s in pretty good shape, and he stepped in today like he hadn’t missed a bit, either.”

Gay’s place in the starting lineup of the White team for the day’s final scrimmage — alongside Derrick Rose, James Harden, Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis — essentially confirms Colangelo’s statement. But Gay hasn’t been told whether he’ll be in the same spot in the future.

“We don’t know,” Gay said of the team’s starting lineup. “Coach K keeps that in his back pocket until it’s go time.”

Once Team USA lost George to injury, there was no guarantee that they would bring in anyone else — both due to time constraints, as well as because of the unfamiliarity the majority of candidates have with the USA Basketball program. And, the team can only take 12 players to the World Championships, so some guys who have been there from the beginning won’t make the cut. But Gay reached out and asked to be added, and the prompting to do so came from an unlikely source.

“My ownership with the Kings, he pushed me into it,” Gay said. “And then my agency, they told me I probably should think about it. I had fun last time. I learned a lot, and it was great for me. Also, the guys — a couple of the guys I played with before, and also the World Championship team. They kind of pushed me into playing here again.”

Mark Cuban has famously said he would have his players nowhere near international competition if it was his choice, but Colangelo doesn’t believe that those remarks have much to do with the players.

“His comments were about money, they weren’t about players playing,” Colangelo said.

Gay believes that the owner of the team he plays for, however, is interested more in the basketball side.

“He’s a basketball guy,” Gay said of Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive. “Not to say anything about Mark Cuban, because he’s protecting his investments. Obviously, to an extent, everybody has personal feelings about whether guys should play during the summer or not. But we talked, and he felt the way I felt … that the thing with Paul was kind of a freak accident.”

Gay is no lock to make the team, but it’s more than possible Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski decide that with Kevin Durant gone and the team needing to get its offense now from a wider variety of sources, he’s one of the better options. Krzyzewski was asked what his plans were to redistribute Durant’s “20 shots per game,” and for obvious reasons, he wasn’t exactly worried about who in particular might be willing to step up.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of hands raised,” Krzyzewski said.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.