USA Basketball to stick with selecting 12 man roster for Rio, no tryouts

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There will be no formal tryouts for Team USA heading into the Rio Olympics this summer.

This isn’t new news, USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo said this before. But he reiterated it to Marc Stein of ESPN Wednesday. Rather than bring 15-20 players to a training camp in Las Vegas then have to make cuts to get to 12, this time around USA Basketball is just going to select the 12 and announce it. Then that dozen will come to Las Vegas in July for a training camp before a series of exhibitions in cities around the USA; then everyone heads to Brazil and the games that start Aug. 5 (basketball tips off Aug. 6).

It would be more accurate to say that the tryouts for Team USA are going on right now as the NBA season winds down. Colangelo said he thinks a lot about what the roster makeup should be.

“I play that game in my own mind almost every day. And it changes every other day in my mind. We’ve got so many great players and they all want to participate. We may be in for a surprise or two at the end of the day, where someone is not going to make themselves available, but because of the depth on this roster, we could take a few hits and still be in great shape.

“So I’m just keeping all my options open. And I’m interested always to hear other people’s opinions, but you can trust me: I’ll make the final decision based on what I think is right for us in conjunction with Coach K and our staff … what’s the best 12 to put us in the best position to be successful? And I’ll go right back to something we said many years ago. It’s not an All-Star team. It’s: ‘Let’s put a group together that puts us in this best position to win.’ “

Of course, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will have a heavy hand in the roster decision. Some of that roster makeup comes down to who is available. For example, LeBron James has said he doesn’t know if he will play this summer. If the Cavaliers make the NBA Finals that will be six consecutive seasons James will have played into June, he may want to rest his body in July and August. Other players also will have similar decisions to make. We do know that Carmelo Anthony wants in, and that Kobe Bryant will sit this one out.

One other interesting note from Colangelo: After looking at their options, USA Basketball will house its men’s and women’s team on a cruise ship docked in Rio rather than at a hotel in the city.

“We have sent our people [to Rio] on four or five occasions,” Colangelo said. “We have researched everything we could on accommodations. And we made our decision as to what we’re going to do. Bear in mind that, since ’92, [USAB’s] basketball teams haven’t stayed in the Olympic Village. Also bear in mind that basketball is one of only two sports that runs the entire length of the Olympic [Games].

“Because of the high visibility of our athletes, we’re better served by [going] above and beyond what the Olympic people provide for us in the way of security and so forth. We do our own things to make sure we’ve protected our people. There’s a big investment here that we’ll have in Rio. … We will not be in the Village, but our players will be in there a lot, like they have been in the last two Olympics.”

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.