Gustavo Ayon

Gustavo Ayon spurns minimum offers to play in NBA, reaches deal with Real Madrid

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Gustavo Ayon wanted to stay in the NBA, but in the end this is a business and he made the business decision.

Ayon was trying to find his space on the Hawks last season when shoulder surgery shut him down for the year in February. He showed in the FIBA World Cup he was back, leading Mexico to the knockout round then putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds on Team USA’s front line in a losing effort. He looked solid.

But the offers that were coming in to return to the NBA, with the Spurs and others, were for the league minimum.

Which is why he has signed to play for more money from Real Madrid in Spain, something reported by (via Hoopshype).

Ayon played in Spain for years before coming to the NBA.

Ayon is very skilled which helped make up for the fact most NBA centers he went up against were more athletic than him. But he was fairly efficient (although that stepped back last season with the injury) and was a good passer and finisher. His free throw percentage (40 percent last season) was always an issue helping keep his minutes down.

This is a business for players, they have a limited window to earn money as a professional player and while for the All Stars that populate Team USA that means eight figures a year, for a lot of guys its about making as much as they can right now before that well goes dry. Real Madrid is a top European team that pays well, if Ayon will make significantly more there he had to make this move.

We’ll see if down the line an NBA team ponies up more to bring him back to North America.

FIBA World Cup round of 16 roundup: USA, Spain meeting still on track


We are down to eight teams at the FIBA World Cup after the first two days of the win-or-go-home knockout rounds. We know you were watching football all weekend (so were we), so here is the roundup of what you missed.

Bottom line, it still looks like Team USA vs. Spain will meet for the gold medal Sept. 14. Both look clear and away to be the best teams.


USA 86, Mexico 63: This went pretty much as expected, another easy USA win behind 20 points from Stephen Curry. NBA free agent Gustavo Ayon put up 25 and 8 for Mexico, but this game was never in doubt as the Americans came out with a little fire from the start for a change. Next up for them is Slovenia, who the Americans beat by 30 in a Madison Square Garden exhibition a couple weeks back.

Slovenia 71, Dominican Republic 61: Goran Dragic had 18 points and six assists to get his team the win. Their reward? Team USA next round. This is why Dragic was complaining about Australia throwing a game to get the three seed in their group, so they avoided the Americans longer (in theory). They got blown out by Team USA in an exhibition, but having seen the Americans should help in this meeting. Not enough, but it will be closer.

Turkey 65, Australia 64: Hey Aussies, getting on the other side of the bracket to avoid the Americans only works if you win and advance. Australia led by five with 1:02 left when Cavaliers guard Matt Dellavedova made a lay-up. But Emir Preldzic hit a two threes including one with five seconds left to lift Turkey. Next up Lithuania.

Lithuania 76, New Zealand 71: Give New Zealand credit, they fought hard and made this one close but in the end they had no answer for Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas who had 22 points and 13 boards in the game. They have a tough but winnable game with Turkey next (then the USA looming after that).


Spain 89, Senegal 56: Spain looks dominant. Yes, they could beat the USA. Senegal was no match, with Pau Gasol scoring 17 on 8-of-10 shooting, while Serge Ibaka chipped in 11 and Marc Gasol had 9. Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng had a fantastic tournament for Senegal but he struggled against this huge front line for Spain, shooting just 1-of-9 on the night.

France 69, Croatia 64: Nicolas Batum came alive with 14 points to spark the defending European champions France to the win. France beat Spain to get that Euro title last year, now they have to face Spain again in the next round, and it’s going to turn out differently. Nets incoming rookie Bojan Bogdanovic had 27 in a losing effort.

Serbia 90, Greece 72: Big game from Bogdan Bogdanovic — the guy the Suns drafted in the first round this year, not to be confused with the Croatian Bogdanovic who is the Nets property — with 21 points. Serbia was much the better side in this one and looked like a team that could be in the mix for the bronze medal.

Brazil 85, Argentina 65: Everyone was pumped for this South American skirmish, but Brazil just owned the game as Argentina’s golden generation just looked old and slow. Raul Neto stole the show for Brazil with 21 points, while the combination of Tiago Splitter Anderson Varejao looked good inside combining for 19 points and 17 rebounds. Brazil may be my favorite to get the bronze right now, but they have a tough game with Serbia coming.

Mike Krzyzewski: ‘We believed in DeMarcus Cousins right from training camp’


As Team USA went through its training camp in Las Vegas and then played some exhibition games in New York and Chicago, DeMarcus Cousins seemed to be on the bubble in terms of whether or not he’d make the final 12-man roster.

Cousins hadn’t performed well defensively, and it was believed (and reported) that Mason Plumlee might have gotten the nod over Cousins if it came down to it, precisely for that reason.

But Kevin Durant’s unexpected withdrawal and the injury to Paul George opened up some roster spots, and with Spain’s front line of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka likely looming in the tournament’s championship game, head coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to bring as many bigs as possible.

Following Team USA’s win over Mexico, Krzyzewski talked up just how happy he’s been with the way Cousins has performed, and said that he’s believed in him all along.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

“We have believed in DeMarcus right from training camp,” Krzyzewski said after Cousins’ 11-point, seven-rebound performance in the 86-63 win vs. Mexico Saturday that included a solid defensive job against Mexico big man Gustavo Ayon. “All the reports about him not making the team and all that were all not right. We felt that he would be the perfect guy with or in place of (New Orleans Pelicans big man and starting center) Anthony (Davis) at times, but more in the place of Anthony.

“I think it’s just a matter of him continuing to get in better shape. Our guys are getting accustomed to where (and) when he does come in the game, he’s different than Anthony. And so (they need) to look for him (offensively). And I think they see him more now. I think his defense has really improved. He tried to take three charges today, (and) played Ayon pretty well without getting help so (Mexico) couldn’t get a three off of him.”

Cousins was 5-of-5 shooting on Saturday, and also grabbed seven rebounds in under 14 minutes of action.

Team USA will need Cousins to make Spain’s bigs work on the defensive end of the floor, and while Krzyzewski’s words aren’t exactly insincere, the excessive praise may be geared to motivate Cousins to continue to improve, while preparing him for a potentially heavy workload in the championship game when things matter the most.

Report: Gustavo Ayon prefers to play in NBA over Europe next season


Gustavo Ayon was the one bright spot in Mexico’s 86-63 loss to Team USA on Saturday, finishing with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds.

That performance may draw some attention from NBA teams in terms of considering adding Ayon for next season. But as of now, the offers are far more lucrative to play overseas.

From Marc Stein of

ESPN sources say Gustavo Ayon certainly prefers to play in NBA next season but at this point his offers from Europe have simply been richer

Ayon has been handful for USA bigs even though they’re obviously zeroing in on him. Yet I suspect he’ll pass on NBA unless offers improve

The Spurs recently registered interest, but it’s unclear if things ever got to the offer stage, and if so, whether San Antonio would commit enough to match the ones that are more concrete at this time.

Ayon appeared confident as Mexico’s best player against Team USA, and put in a strong showing, even with Anthony Davis patrolling the paint defensively. That will need to translate in his workouts for NBA teams if he wants to improve his stateside reputation, and entice someone to give him an offer that will rival those he’ll receive to play in Europe next season.

Stephen Curry leads Team USA to 86-63 win over Mexico at FIBA World Cup


Team USA entered the single-elimination phase of FIBA World Cup play with plenty of questions, but pulled away for an easy 86-63 victory over Mexico because of the one thing that has remained constant.

From top to bottom, there isn’t a team in this tournament with more individual talent, or one with more guys that can simply explode offensively at any given time.

On Saturday, it was Stephen Curry who took control, putting on a show in the third quarter that helped put the game even more out of reach than it already was. He scored 11 of his team-high 20 points in the period, getting loose for threes in transition on multiple, consecutive possessions.

Curry’s backcourt mate with the Warriors, Klay Thompson, finished with 15 points of his own, though missed some easy open looks on the way to a 6-of-14 shooting performance. DeMarcus Cousins took advantage of mismatches inside to hit all five of his shots while grabbing seven rebounds in under 14 minutes of action, and Kenneth Faried continued to be active, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds.

Anthony Davis turned in a stellar game defensively, blocking four shots while grabbing six rebounds and coming away with a couple of steals. He was just 2-of-9 shooting, but his offense wasn’t needed with so many others scoring at will against a mismatched opponent.

Derrick Rose struggled again in this one, going scoreless in 16 minutes of play on 0-of-5 shooting. He seemed to be pressing a bit more than we’ve seen, perhaps beginning to lose patience with his game taking (what he believes to be) much longer than expected to return to otherworldly levels.

A bright spot for Mexico and a potential cause for concern for Team USA was the play of Gustavo Ayon. The big man had to have been the focal point of the USA defensive plan, but he still finished with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds. Ayon looked strong, and showcased good footwork and excellent agility against the likes of Davis inside. With the rest of his teammates only able to hit a combined 17 of their 54 shot attempts, however, the game’s final result was never in question.

You’d like to see Team USA put together some cohesive stretches of team play before facing the inevitable matchup with Spain in the tournament’s championship game. But with so many different guys that can singlehandedly take over games offensively the way Curry did in this one, they’re still going to be extremely difficult to beat.