Julius Randle

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Andre Drummond withdraws from Team USA for FIBA World Cup

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Why did Team USA add Heat center Bam Adebayo to a World Cup training-camp roster that already included Brook Lopez, Myles Turner, Andre Drummond, Julius Randle and P.J. Tucker?

Because the U.S. was losing one of those bigs.

USA Basketball release:

USA Basketball today announced the addition of Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo to the USA Men’s National Team and to the roster of players expected to participate in the USA’s Aug. 5-9 World Cup training camp. USA Basketball also announced that 6-11 forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies) has been added to the USA Select Team roster, and that Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) and Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers) had withdrawn from the World Cup training camp.

Drummond had potential to contribute. He would’ve thrived with international goaltending rules, which allow players to put back rebounds above the cylinder.

At least the Americans are deep at center. If anything goes wrong with the main-roster players, Jaren Jackson Jr. could even get called up.

Still, reasonable depth isn’t star power. That’s where Team USA is really lacking.

Mason Plumlee added to Team USA player pool (Montrezl Harrell, too, but he’s already out)

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The story of Team USA’s 2019 FIBA World Cup roster in a nutshell: USA Basketball announced Montrezl Harrell and Mason Plumlee were added to the player pool. Less than an hour later, Harrell put out word he probably wouldn’t play.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Many stars swiftly turned down Team USA for this year’s FIBA World Cup. More accepted an invitation to try out then withdrew. Now even Harrell is out.

Who’s in?

Here are the players slated to attend training camp, with rough positional designations:

Point guards

Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)

Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)

Combo guards

Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)

Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)

Wings

Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)

Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings)

Big forwards

P.J. Tucker (Houston Rockets)

Thaddeus Young (Chicago Bulls)

Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers)

Centers

Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)

Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)

Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)

Julius Randle (New York Knicks)

Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets)

Plumlee is an odd addition (except considering his connections). That’s so many centers – especially because USA Basketball also invited Harrell, another center. It seems original selections Lopez, Drummond and Turner could hold down the position.

The Americans could use more backcourt depth. J.J. Redick, who just signed with the Pelicans, might provide it.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

As an excellent outside shooter, Redick could fill a valuable role.

USA Basketball also announced the select team, a group of young players that practices against the senior squad:

At this rate, maybe a select-team player or two will make the final World Cup roster.

Kevin Love ‘expected’ to withdraw from Team USA World Cup training camp

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Add another one to the list of players who have dropped out of USA Basketball. So far, that list is

Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)

Now Kevin Love is expected to join the list, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. The good news is Kyle Lowry wants to play.

Love’s floor spacing skills, rebounding, and outlet passes fit well in the international game. Love won gold with Team USA at the London Olympics.

The motivations behind all the defections are, in general, a combination of three things. First, the NBA title chase feels wide open this season with as many as eight teams thinking they have a legit shot at it, and the majority of those dropping out are on those teams. The players are prioritizing club over country. Secondly, FIBA moved the World Cup from 2018 to 2019, meaning if a player is eyeing the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo they would be taking part in two straight summers of USA Basketball — likely after long playoff runs — to do both. Players are choosing to take the World Cup off. Third, this World Cup starts late, running Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, and runs right up against the start of training camps.

Even with all the withdrawals, the USA team is loaded with enough talent to three-peat as gold medalists at the event. Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, Donovan Mitchell, Marcus Smart, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma, Harrison Barnes, Aaron Gordon, Thaddeus Young, P.J. Tucker, Julius Randle, Paul Millsap, Andre Drummond, Brook Lopez, and Myles Turner are among those invited.

Report: Damian Lillard out, Julius Randle and Jaylen Brown in for Team USA consideration

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Team USA is losing its best player.

Again.

After Anthony Davis then James Harden withdrew from consideration for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Damian Lillard is also pulling out.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

This is a major drop in star power for the Americans. Their best player on the World Cup roster could be Kemba Walker? Kyle Lowry? Khris Middleton? This is no Dream Team.

The United States also went from stacked to thin at point guard in a hurry. Walker and Lowry remain – if Lowry is healthy. Donovan Mitchell and Marcus Smart are combo guards. But that’s a big drop from an expected 1-2 punch of Harden and Lillard.

Julius Randle and Jaylen Brown won’t help there.

Brown is a solid addition to the roster pool. He’s a versatile wing who can fit into many lineups and styles. That malleability will be important as Team USA can longer rely on a huge talent disparity.

Randle probably makes less sense. He’s an impressive individual scorer with passing ability. But his ball-stopping tendencies and woeful defense as a big leave major questions about his ability to contribute with other top players. He’s more of a floor-raiser. If the Americans need a floor-raiser, they’re in trouble.

DeMar DeRozan apparently withdrew from the training-camp roster before anyone knew he was even added, which is pretty fitting for this team.

Marcus Morris reportedly agrees one-year, $15 million contract with Knicks after backing out with Spurs

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At Summer League, there was a lot of discussion about what bad form this was by Marcus Morris and his agent Rich Paul — and people I spoke with from some teams were angry. Players have agreed to contracts only to get a better offer back out before, but when Morris agreed to terms with the Spurs for two-years, $20 million, the Spurs traded Davis Bertans to have the cap space to give Morris his money. It’s a move they could not undo.

Morris did back out to agree a one-year contract with the Knicks, something reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

This is a better deal for Morris: He makes more money, he should get a lot of touches (although Julius Randle is clearly the starting four in New York), and he re-enters free agency in a year, when it is a down market and there will be less competition for his services.

The Knicks get a solid veteran who can stretch the floor and shot 37.5 percent from three last season. Morris averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season in Boston. More than buckets, Morris brings grit and toughness that Knicks fans will love. Plus he can solidly defend the four spot. This is a good pickup for the Knicks.

And it leaves the Spurs scrambling (they snapped up Trey Lyles in a separate deal).