Trans. Sep 15 1:08 ET (Sep 15 1:08 ET ) By Larry Fine NEW YORK (Reuters) - A spate of late withdrawals, a serious injury to Paul George and several marquee names missing appeared to put Team USA under a cloud for the 2014 Basketball World Cup and for future international competition. Instead, a group of sharp-shooting NBA regulars were unbeaten in Spain and produced a 129-92 victory over Serbia in the final to underline the depth the U.S. Stalwarts LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were missing from the initial training camp, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin bowing out late in the process before Indiana forward George broke his leg in training and could now miss the NBA season.
The Scoop:"If he wanted to leave, there's no reason to talk to him about it," Rubio said. "I really liked playing with him, but I'll play with the players who want to be there." The Wolves are going to be hungry for offense this season and Rubio may have to take more shots, which is something he doesn't usually do. The loss of Love may hurt his fantasy value.
The Scoop:"You know what, summertime, I don't pay attention to basketball, honestly," Sullinger said. "With all of those things going on, I think my Mom, Dad and brothers knew more about that situation than I did because it was in one ear and out the other." Sullinger also added that he has slimmed down and is finally healthy heading into training camp this year. Sullinger isn't a high-upside fantasy player, but he is a consistent late-round target who can give his owners a double-double on any given night.
Much has been written about Carmelo Anthony’s potential departure and eventual re-connection with the New York Knicks. How it wasn’t about the money, even though Carmelo Anthony turned down offers from better teams to play for less money. How it’s all about winning, even if it may take a while to succeed in New York under new president Phil Jackson and rookie head coach Derek Fisher. Now, we’ve got yet another reason. The guy doesn’t want to be a free agent again. Ever, ever, ever. (Even if he totally wanted to be a free agent this summer.) Anthony further discussed his reasoning at the same Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that provided Adam Silver’s telling remarks about legalized betting and the idea of early-morning NBA tip-offs to further accommodate Chinese viewership. Here’s Anthony’s take on what must have been a miserable summer, via the New York Post’s Marc Berman’s report : “I plan on ending my career here, so it wasn’t for me to go out there and try to strike a two-year deal and then have to go through this situation in two years. I’m not doing that ever again. I would never do that again. I would advise no one to ever do that,” Anthony said. “I experienced it and it’s behind me.” Remember that “behind me” entails five-star accommodations as Anthony was wined and dined and recruited in third-world outposts like Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston . Also, ‘membah this :? “I want to be a free agent,” Anthony tells a reporter from the New York Observer, as their cigars burn close to the nub. “I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It’s like you have an evaluation period, you know. It’s like if I’m in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience.” Be careful what you wish for, I suppose. September snark aside, this is completely understandable from all angles. Anthony was never a free agent, prior to this summer, despite entering the NBA in 2003. His 2006 contract extension with Denver fell before his eventual free-agent status, and he signed an extension with New York upon forcing a trade to the Knicks in 2011. It’s nice to be wanted, and it’s nice to feel in control of your own destiny. It’s also nice to have potentially great teams, potentially interesting situations, and potential hundreds of millions of dollars offered to you by a variety of franchises. The Lakers aren’t doing anything any time soon, but they will have a future once Kobe Bryant’s contract comes off the books, and helping re-load a franchise while nesting by the waves of Malibu should have been incredibly appealing. Dallas didn’t figure to be an obvious championship contender even with Anthony suiting up alongside Dirk Nowitzki, but the Mavericks didn’t seem like an obvious championship contender heading into 2010-11, and that didn’t stop them from falling behind Rick Carlisle’s wily ways and winning a ring. Lining up alongside Dwight Howard, James Harden and lord knows who else in Kevin McHale and Daryl Morey’s madcap experiment with Houston? That could have been incredible, and possible championship, fun. Nobody knows how Derrick Rose will look while suiting for ( essentially ) his first time in two seasons, but a lineup featuring a brilliant defensive front court and emerging young bench talent under the leadership of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau should have truly intrigued Anthony. Especially when the Bulls were apparently, for better or worse for the franchise, ready to offer Carmelo the same deal that is going to make LeBron James a whole heck of a lot of money: Melo says idea of a two-year deal, like what LeBron just agreed to, wasn't intriguing to him. Didn't want high-stress situation of FA again — Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) September 4, 2014 CHI had reportedly floated the idea of a short-term 2-yr deal for Melo so he could re-sign for max in 2016. He says that wasnt appealing. — Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) September 4, 2014 Melo: "Over five years, the amount of money I left on the table, relative to the contract that I got, it’s not a lot of money." — Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) September 4, 2014 That would, as you know, make Anthony a free agent in 2016 at the age of 32, and possibly as his prime starts to decline. The Chicago Bulls can’t NBA-legally assure Anthony that a maximum contract extension following a two-year deal would be in the cards, and there’s always the possibility the franchise could take advantage of two years of Anthony’s prime at below his free-agent value, then pull the carpet out from underneath him and leave him without that expected extension just as his production starts to decline. Now, Chicago would run the risk of turning off just about every player agent and future NBA free agent in the process, but there’s always the chance. I suppose. Of course, there’s always this telling addendum, via the Post : Anthony noted a move also would have meant restarting his brand from scratch. “I just felt if I was to leave, I would have to … build that foundation up once again, and it took me a while to build that foundation and to get it up and going to where it’s at right now,” Anthony said. /Mr. Burns voice: Ah yes … the brand! Now “his brand” is Marc Berman’s choice of phrase, but he’s not wrong in using it. And Carmelo Anthony isn’t wrong in considering it – his off-court and on-court brand and, heaven forbid, thinking about his family . Anthony is explaining quite a bit away, but he doesn’t need to. All he has to do is align his statements, and we’d understand. The Knicks offered him the most amount of money, and the ability to play in a wonderful city while making an average of $26 million until he is 35. He and his wife enjoy New York, and the roots they’ve put down. Also, while the Knicks were embarrassing last season and won’t be much better in 2014-15, there is the sound possibility that Phil Jackson could at the very least turn the squad into an aesthetically-pleasing winner that Anthony would enjoy playing with. They won’t land Kevin Love or Kevin Durant, but things could eventually turn around, even if a championship isn’t in the offing. That’s just a paragraph’s worth of explanations. There’s no need to lie about how it wasn’t about the money, because money was a huge part of it, and we understand. There’s no need to hold your nose at the thought of free agency, 11 months after drooling over the prospect of no restriction, because anything can happen between now and 2016, and we understand. And don’t talk up building a foundation in New York, because it’s already shot to hell, and foundations in Houston, Chicago and Dallas are already in place. Just say that you love New York, you have faith in Phil Jackson, and that the guaranteed money was too much to pass up. We’d understand. Around the NBA: - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
It's been a strange road for Kenneth Faried. From the moment he arrived in the association, his dichotomous nature as high-energy Manimal on the court and soft-spoken son of two mothers off it made him a media darling. And yet even as his star rises as Team USA's starting power forward, Faried's value as a once traditional player at a position that's evolving further from the basket remains in question. Drafted 22nd overall by the Nuggets, Faried earned a 2011-12 First Team All-Rookie selection and Rising Stars Challenge MVP honors upon collecting 40 points and 10 boards as a sophomore. The 6-foot-8, 228-pound Morehead State product averaged a double-double per 36 minutes each of his first three NBA seasons, and has replicated those numbers in the opening three games of the FIBA World Cup. While Faried has emerged as a perfect frontcourt pairing to Anthony Davis in the absence of Team USA stalwarts Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin — all of whom bring their own set of skills to a position increasingly populated by stretch-4's — the criticism leveled at the Class of 2015 restricted free agent remains. We'll let Zach Lowe explain, as he did both fairly and pointedly for Grantland last month. Faried conceives of himself as a max-level player, but he can’t shoot and he has struggled defensively. He can’t protect the rim in the half-court (his chase-down blocks in transition kick major ass, though), and he’s never been an intuitive pick-and-roll defender. Lowe rightly noted Faried's tireless work ethic around the rim and in transition, skills that earned Kenyon Martin $91.75 million over seven seasons in Denver, but the Nuggets are determined not to hamstring themselves with the same contracts that ultimately left them Western Conference also-rans last decade. So, Denver general manager Tim Connelly has shopped Faried at every turn — for a first-round pick last year and more understandably for Kevin Love this summer — and if all of this seems like a strange way for a 36-win team in need of elite talent to court a 24-year-old All-Star-caliber player, then join the club. Speaking about last season in Denver last night, Team USAer Kenneth Faried said trade rumors "affect you when you want to stay somewhere" — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 3, 2014 Faried clearly wants to stay with Nuggets and is mounting quite a contract drive as negotiations continue on extension to keep him in Denver — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 3, 2014 Nuggets and Faried have until Halloween to finalize extension or Team USA's emerging energizer will become restricted free agent next summer — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 3, 2014 Restricted free agents experienced mixed results this summer. The Jazz matched Charlotte's four-year, $63 million offer to Gordon Hayward. The Mavericks snatched Chandler Parsons from Houston for three years and $46 million. Greg Monroe seems willing to sign Detroit's $5.5 million qualifying offer in hopes of cashing in as an unrestricted free agent next summer. And who the hell knows what's happening with Eric Bledsoe . All these options are on the table, as is a five-year extension worth eight figures annually. Given the history of stars using USA Basketball as a springboard to NBA success, the Nuggets may be wise to meet Faried's demands sooner rather than later. Granted, he's played three blowout wins against Finland, Turkey and New Zealand, but Faried's World Cup averages of 14.3 points on 80.8 percent shooting and 8.3 rebounds are impressive, and count Mike Krzyzewski among his growing list of fans. "Overall, from the start of training camp, he's been the biggest and best surprise and has turned out to be a very, very important player for us," USA Basketball's coach told ESPN.com . "He’s made that happen." That endorsement alone should have suitors lining up for Faried's services next summer. Then again, if rumors are to be believed, Denver couldn't find a team willing to part with a first-round pick for him last summer. The NBA sure is a strange road, even for a kid forever plowing full-speed ahead.
The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't made the playoffs in 10 years and just traded the face of their franchise so he can go chase a championship with LeBron James in Cleveland. Kevin Love is gone now, and yet somehow the Timberwolves have parlayed that into a record-setting week at the box office. After completing the long-rumored trade that sent Love to the Cavaliers and brought Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young to Minnesota, the Timberwolves have sold more than 300 full season-ticket packages in the last week. ''The organization, from president-level on down has just been re-energized,'' Timberwolves senior vice president and chief revenue officer Ryan Tanke said.
This week, the best basketball nations in the world are heading to Spain for the FIBA World Cup of Basketball. The tournament — known until recently as the world championships — lacks the overwhelming attention of the Olympics in the United States, but for many other countries it is considered to be nearly as prestigious. As usual, Team USA enters the competition as the favorite, although that position is as precarious as it has been for some time, with Spain serving as the strongest competition. Even if the general hierarchy of teams hasn't changed, there is no question that they appear less dominant than we're accustomed to. The tournament tips off on Saturday, with Team USA set to take on Finland at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Here are five pressing stories to help you get acquainted with the World Cup before play begins. 1. Team USA looks vulnerable. When it comes to the best basketball country in the world, such issues as vulnerability are always relative, because their chances of losing remain much lower than those for any other team. Nevertheless, this is not the same Team USA that won the 2008 Olympics, 2010 world championships, and 2012 Olympics with very few hiccups. The team's world championships/Cup roster never features the overwhelming star power of the Olympics, but it's still reasonable to think the group will include one or two perennial All-NBA players. Team USA is used to the best. The 2014 roster does not immediately look like such an established and dominant group. While USA Basketball expected the absences of proven international commodities like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the powers that be weren't necessarily looking to be without Kevin Love (who bowed out due to his potential and eventual trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves), Paul George (who was lost to his now-infamous leg injury during an exhibition game), and Kevin Durant (who withdrew from consideration due to mental and physical exhaustion ). As such, Team USA lacks a game-changing wing player who can move over to the "four" position — the role that has defined head coach Mike Krzyzewski's tenure. The team's ostensible leaders are Derrick Rose, who has barely even played competitive basketball in the past two years and might have trouble with the tournament's demanding schedule; James Harden, who sees himself as the team's defensive stopper and on-court leader even though he's not known for those qualities; and Anthony Davis, a truly incandescent talent who nevertheless has never been asked to do so much in international play.
There is little doubt that Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden is an extremely talented basketball player — guys don't make the All-NBA First Team by accident, no matter how controversial there selections prove to be. But Harden gets the sort of criticism that most elite stars don't receive. Harden's lackadaisical and often just horrible defense has been extensively documented, and it doesn't help that he also occasionally makes ill-considered comments about his teammates and mocked at least one very respected member of the media . There's a not uncommon belief that Harden doesn't really get what it takes to be the top dog on a title contender, which makes it a bigger deal than usual when he, like many athletes before him, overestimates his standing in the sport . Although Harden turned 25 years old just this Tuesday, he is one of the most experienced players on Team USA as it heads into Saturday's opening game of the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain. As such, Harden sees himself as a leader. If that appears a bit presumptuous of him, then please consider that USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo believes Harden is taking well to the role. From Michael Lee for The Washington Post (via EOB ): “Right now, I think I would look to Harden as that leader,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said as his team continues to prepare for the tournament in which the winner earns an automatic berth in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “Harden is kind of a natural leader and he seems to be willing to accept that role. And you can just kind of feel it and sense. He’s the one.” [...] Colangelo said Harden has been one of the team’s most vocal players and has helped elevate practices with his effort and tenacity. “I don’t know if he’s been waiting [to lead]. It’s evolved,” Colangelo said. “He came in as a pretty high draft pick. Got off to a great start in Oklahoma City. Whether he was disappointed or surprised by what transpired, he found himself in another uniform and that’s part of life in pro sports and the NBA, and I think he’s adjusted to that and his numbers get bigger and he’s being recognized more and more as the player he is. And this is a great platform for him to come out as a leader.” [...] “This is a different platform,” Harden said. “A platform that I haven’t really been on before, but I think most of us haven’t been on it, either. I think we’re all kind of figuring it out together. That’s what’s going to be so special about this team. We figure it out together and we come out with a gold medal, it makes it that much more special.” Lee notes elsewhere that Harden is one of just two players on the 2014 roster to have also played on the 2012 Olympic team — Anthony Davis is the other — so it makes sense that he would be seen as something of an elder statesman. It's possible to argue that Harden earned the role by default after the withdrawal of Kevin Durant and in the absence of players like Kevin Love, but there seems to be little doubt that the Rockets star is occupying the role for Team USA right now. That's notable in itself, if only because NBA fans haven't been conditioned to think of Harden as the sort of guy who is capable of leading a roster of stars (diminished or not) in a major international tournament. We're not sure he's ready to represent Houston on a major stage, let alone the most powerful basketball country in the world. Colangelo's praise is important, but it's also true that it's his job to talk up the positive qualities of the national-team experience in order to convince fans and prospective players that the squad represents the best of America. If an increasingly vulnerable Team USA fails to win gold in the World Cup, it's easy to see public opinion on Harden turning increasingly sour, if only because leadership and championship-readiness are often defined in terms of what someone did most recently. Anything less than convincing victory will suggest that Harden lacks what it takes to lead the national team. In other words, it would be prudent not to declare any certainty about Harden's leadership ability, because it's at least partially dependent on the result of the World Cup. Plus, even if Team USA does develop into a dominant squad that wins every game convincingly, Harden will face a whole new challenge with the Rockets this fall. To paraphrase a cliche, the true test of a leader — or maybe just the true test of a leader's reputation — comes when the going gets tough. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric
The Scoop: None.
Aug 27 7:12 ET
News (various sources)
James unveils new shoe before restart with Cavs (The Associated Press) (1 Day Ago | courtesy: The Associated Press) LeBron James had some business to take care before rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers for training camp. He was at Nike's corporate headquarters Tuesday for the unveiling of his new shoe, the LeBron 12. It is his first new shoe with Nike since he returned this summer to the Cavs. ''But I love it because it has my name and logo on it.'' The rollout comes less than two weeks before the four-time league MVP reports to training camp. More...