Damian Lillard

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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 not playing for Team USA in World Cup

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James Harden said he wanted to play for Team USA in the 2019 World Cup.

But the Rockets star has apparently changed his mind.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Houston definitely has a big season ahead. A Harden-Russell Westbrook backcourt is unlike any in NBA history. There’s a lot to figure out.

The Americans will still be favored in China. But they’re down to just six five 2019 All-Stars in consideration for the final roster:

And Lowry is injured.

At least the U.S. is loaded at point guard with Lillard, Walker and maybe Lowry. Plenty of wings and even bigs set to attend USA Basketball’s training camp are stars who are also comfortable handling the ball.

NBA 2K20 ratings: LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard earn 97s to lead way

NBA 2K20
Via 2K Sports
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How do NBA players measure respect? There are a few ways, with the size of the paycheck being at the top of the list. Awards and accolades fit in there.

However, few things rile guys up like their NBA 2K rankings. Most play the game, and their ranking (out of 100) is seen as a measure of status among fellow players and fans.

2K Sports unveiled the top rankings for NBA 2K20 in a live-streamed show on Monday night, and LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard got the top honors. Here’s the top 20:

1. LeBron James 97
2. Kawhi Leonard 97
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo 96
4. Kevin Durant 96
5. James Harden 96
6. Stephen Curry 96
7. Anthony Davis 94
8. Paul George 93
9. Damian Lillard 92
10. Joel Embiid 91
11. Kyrie Irving 91
12. Nikola Jokic 90
13. Russell Westbrook 90
14. Klay Thompson 89
15. Karl-Anthony Towns 89
16. Jimmy Butler 88
17. Kemba Walker 88
18. Donovan Mitchell 88
19. Rudy Gobert 88
20. Blake Griffin 88

The highest-rated rookie: Of course it was Zion Williamson (81).

Anthony Davis is on the cover of NBA 2K20, which will be released on Sept. 6. Sorry, you’ve got to wait until then to play it, but here is an early teaser video.

Brandon Clarke named Summer League MVP, leads Grizzlies to Vegas title

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Brandon Clarke made his mark in Las Vegas.

The No. 21 pick in June out of Gonzaga, he averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in leading the Grizzlies to the championship game, and for that he was named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP.

(That award has been won by Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin and John Wall, but also Josh Shelby and Glen Rice Jr. Most winners of the award had good careers as role players — Randy Foye, Jerryd Bayless, whatever Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart become — but it’s a mistake to think it’s a precursor of NBA dominance.)

Clarke wasn’t done, he had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the championship game, leading the Grizzlies past the Timberwolves 95-92. Memphis is your 2019 NBA Summer League Champions.

Memphis raced out to a 15-point lead early in the title game.

In the end, it was a balanced attack that won Memphis the game. Grayson Allen led the way 17 points, but Clarke, Bruno Caboclo, and Dusty Hannah’s all had 15 points, while Tyler Harvey added a dozen.

Minnesota was led by Kelan Martin with 19 points.

Enes Kanter says he didn’t choose Blazers because they gave him six minutes to decide

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It’s one of the oldest sales tactics in the books: “Limited time offer, if you don’t agree in the next five minutes this deal goes away.” Scarcity — real or made up — is an effective way to get some people to sign up.

Not Enes Kanter.

After a strong playoff run in Portland where Kanter played through a separated shoulder and helped the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals, Portland fans and management hoped to see Kanter return. Instead, Kanter signed a two-year, $10 million contract in Boston. Portland traded for Hassan Whiteside instead to fill in minutes until Jusuf Nurkic‘s return.

Then, not long after Kanter signed with the Celtics, he sent this text to Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

Kanter has a reputation for liking to tell stories, and Damian Lillard responded on his Twitter account that it was more like 45 minutes.

The most likely scenario: Portland had the Miami trade for Whiteside on hold, but it was part of the larger four-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade, so the Trail Blazers couldn’t keep everyone waiting forever. So they gave Kanter a deadline.

Lillard also admits the key here for Kanter: 45 minutes is still not that much time to make a major life decision, such as where you’re going to live and work for a couple of years. Kanter wanted to talk to family and think it over, and in his case talking to family is a lot more complicated because of his status in his native Turkey. So Kanter pushed back on the deadline.

Portland went with the Whiteside trade, Kanter landed on his feet just fine with the Celtics.

And we learned limited time offers don’t really work on Kanter.