2014 World Cup

Western Notes: Marion, Barbosa, Curry

Team USA defeated Brazil 95-78 in an exhibition game at the United Center last night. The game not only featured Derrick Rose returning to action on his home court, but also strong performances from the PelicansAnthony Davis and the RocketsJames Harden. Davis recorded 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, while Harden scored 18, along with five rebounds and five assists.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Clippers are now showing interest in Shawn Marion, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Spears adds that the Cavs, Pacers, and Heat remain interested in the small forward as well.
  • Leandro Barbosa has had discussions with a few NBA teams about a possible free agent deal, and is hoping to use the upcoming FIBA World Cup to further prove his health, writes Shams Charania of RealGM. Barbosa said, “I don’t know what owners think about the World Cup, but hopefully I do a great job over there and a team sees. I feel healthy and my body is feeling healthy. If I have free agency in my mind, I won’t be able to be myself on the court. Hopefully, I sign a contract and I’ll be happy.” Barbosa appeared in 20 games with the Suns last season, averaging 7.5 PPG, 1.9 PPG, and 1.6 APG, while playing 18.4 minutes a night.
  • In an interview with Beckley Mason of the New York Times, Warriors star Stephen Curry was asked about playing for yet another new head coach in Steve Kerr. Curry responded by saying, “This is one that I haven’t gone through before. This is my fourth coach going into my sixth year. Last three coaching changes, we were a bad team trying to become competitive. Now we have a lot of talent. Pretty much the same team back, with some additions, but a new coach. It’s a different experience. The expectations are already high, and we have to deal with that. Thinking about it, it will kind of be similar to last year. People thought we were a 50-win team, and we accomplished that, but it still didn’t feel like we accomplished as much as we should have. That’s basically the theme I have in my head thinking about what’s going to happen next year. Just in training camp, in that locker room, that adjustment with Coach Kerr and setting his system up. I think we’re going to be able to adjust well.”

Charlie Adams contributed to this post.

Paul George To Miss Season

WEDNESDAY, 8:04pm: The Pacers will apply for the disabled player exception, tweets David Aldridge of NBA.com. This confirms that Indiana has ruled George out for the season. The exception requires medical prognosis of a player’s absence for the entire year. If granted the exception, the Pacers will have $5.305MM to spend to replace George through free agency. The exception doesn’t reduce George’s cap hit, meaning Indiana is unlikely to use the full exception and exceed the luxury tax line. Applying for, receiving, or using that exception will not preclude George from returning in 2014/15, should he make an unexpected speedy recovery.

SATURDAY, 8:33am: Sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com that doctors believe Pacers swingman Paul George is likely to miss all of next season after suffering a horrific injury to his right leg early in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Team USA intra-squad scrimmage in Las Vegas. No official prognosis has been given yet.

The injury occurred when George attempted to block a transition layup by James Harden, and George’s leg came down awkwardly and buckled as he knocked into the basket stanchion. George then remained down on the court as trainers, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski and members of George’s family who were present rushed to his side. His leg was placed into an air cast and after approximately 15 minutes, George was taken to an area hospital for evaluation and surgery. The scrimmage was then cancelled in light of the devastating turn of events.

In a statement released after surgery was completed, posted by Windhorst, USA Basketball confirmed that George suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture and is expected to remain hospitalized for about three days. Windhorst’s sources also informed him that there didn’t appear to be additional damage besides the fractures. Dr. Riley Williams, a Team USA orthopedist who also works with the Nets, was with George, notes Windhorst.

The most recent example of a similar injury and possible recovery time is the leg injury that then Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered during the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Ware missed roughly nine months of action, then returned to the court during the 2013/14 season, but after nine games decided to redshirt the remainder of the season to allow the leg to fully heal.

The injury to George has already caused a number of NBA owners and GM’s to rethink their stance on letting their star players participate in international play, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). One GM told Wojnarowski that this would be a “game changer” going forward. Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link) notes that the current NBA deal with FIBA states that teams can’t bar players from international competition unless there’s “reasonable medical concern” going in. This was recently demonstrated when the Spurs denied Manu Ginobili permission to participate in the FIBA World Cup due to the recovery time needed for the stress fracture in his leg.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the injury, or the impact on participation in USA Basketball, writes Windhorst. But Colangelo did say, “This is a tough blow, not only for USA basketball but for the Indiana Pacers. And so as an organization we’re just going to let a little time go by here before we address rosters. … It seems so unimportant in the scheme of things. When you have something like this, it puts things in perspective.”

The team had planned to reduce the 20-player pool to 14 or 15 players today but put off those plans after George’s injury, notes Windhorst. Coach Krzyzewski said in regards to those plans, “Everything’s on hold, and it should be. It would be so inappropriate for us to talk about anything else when there is an injury like this.

As for the impact on the Pacers, if George is indeed out for the season, then Indiana would be able to apply for a disabled player exception. The exception would be equivalent to the amount of the $5.305MM non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception. Disabled player exceptions are for either half the player’s salary or the mid-level, whichever is less–which in this case would be the mid-level seeing as George is scheduled to make $15,937,290 during the 2014/15 season. But the Pacers would be unlikely to use the entire disabled player exception due to them being roughly $2MM shy of the tax line.

And-Ones: Prigioni, Wolves, Adams

Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo believes many may have missed the point of Mark Cuban’s tirade against the International Olympic Committee, writes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Still, Colangelo didn’t weigh in on whether or not he agreed with Cuban’s stance, as Price notes, though he emphasized that NBA owners aren’t allowed to dissuade their players from joining their national teams as long as they’re healthy enough to play at the outset.

I think people need to read between the lines, which is basically he’s not against international competition,” Colangelo said. “He’s against international competition when he believes the beneficiary — being the IOC — is getting the money. So he’s basically saying it’s OK for our players to play internationally if the money goes to the NBA and to the team owners. That’s the difference.”

As Paul George‘s injury shines a spotlight on the relationship between national teams and the NBA, here’s more from around the league:

  • The Knicks are fond of Pablo Prigioni, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, even though they’re thinking of packaging him in a deal that would send Wayne Ellington away. It simply appears as though the Knicks won’t be able to find a taker for Ellington by himself, as Stein explains.
  • The Wolves have 15 fully guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show, but they hope to create a spot for Glenn Robinson III, who remains unsigned after Minnesota drafted him 40th overall this summer, notes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). There’s a chance they’d be able to accomplish that if they offload more players than they receive in a Kevin Love trade.
  • There are bonuses tied to Jordan Adams‘ body fat percentage in his rookie scale contract with the Grizzlies, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports. It’s an odd incentive clause for this year’s No. 22 overall pick, though it’s not unprecedented, since Marcus Williams once had body-fat stipulations in his deal, too, as Deeks points out (Twitter links).

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

And-Ones: McGrady, Barea, George, Bledsoe

Tracy McGrady, 35, is at peace with his decision to retire from professional basketball, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. While he says that he could still play in the NBA or an overseas league, and admits that he sometimes gets the itch, he’s no longer interested in putting in the necessary work. “At times I get…the urge to go back and play.  I still can, I’m young enough to still play.  My body feels good; I haven’t played in a couple of years so my body feels great.  It’s just the mental part of [not] having that drive to get back in that type of shape and to put that type of time and focus into it,” McGrady said. More from around the Association..

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) gets the sense that J.J Barea wouldn’t be involved in a two-team deal involving Kevin Love and maybe not even in a three-team deal.  Because his contract could be difficult to move, Wolfson wonders aloud if the stretch provision could be back in play for the Wolves when it comes to the guard.
  • None of the 19 players remaining on Team USA’s roster are planning to pull out of international competition following Paul George‘s catastrophic injury, report Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
  • Is Suns restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe a true No. 1 player?  David Nurse of HoopsHype looks at both sides of the argument.  On one hand, the guard has been the “other guy” everywhere he’s been from Kentucky (John Wall) to the Clippers (Chris Paul) to the Suns (Goran Dragic).  On the other hand, Bledsoe has looked like a mini-LeBron at times and is a major impact player on both sides of the court.  Ultimately, while a max contract may be tough to swallow, Nurse feels he’s worth it.
  • Mavs guard Monta Ellis could be the next NBA notable looking for a change of scenery, writes Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM.  The 29-year-old has a player option in his contract and could hit free agency next summer.  He’ll be looking for one last long-term deal and the Mavs might not want to lock themselves into a core with a number of defensive issues.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Cousins, Gasol, Nurkic, Blazers

DeMarcus Cousins feels like he’s behind in his career because of Sacramento’s inability over the years to find a team that fits around him, but he’s nonetheless ecstatic about what the Kings have done this offseason, as he tells Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee.

“I love what we’re doing. Love what we’re doing. [GM] Pete [D’Alessandro], he’s real aggressive, going after stuff, trying for players we probably have no chance at getting. One of these times we’re going to get lucky, and in the past we wouldn’t do that. Do you know how good that feels? Since [owner] Vivek [Ranadive], Pete, [coach] Michael [Malone], Mullie [team adviser Chris Mullin], [director of pro personnel] Mitch [Richmond] and those guys walked through the [expletive] door, things have been on the rise. I am totally behind it. Michael is like me; he sees everything in black-and-white. I love the fact Pete keeps trying stuff. I am totally behind all this. Rudy [Gay], the [Darren] Collison move, thinking Omri [Casspi] can stretch the floor. And the rookie, that kid [Nik] Stauskas can really play. He makes the game easy and has an impact even when he’s not scoring. I am so happy to be a part of this, of what we’re doing.”

Here’s more from around the West:

  • Marc Gasol can hit free agency next summer, but Grizzlies owner Robert Pera said Friday that the team is determined to keep him around for the rest of his career, observes Zach McMillin of The Commercial Appeal. Pera added that convincing Gasol that he can win a title in Memphis will be key, notes fellow Commercial Appeal scribe Michael Cohen.
  • No. 16 overall pick Jusuf Nurkic didn’t receive the standard 120% of the rookie scale when he signed with the Nuggets last month, and it’s believed that he’s the most highly drafted player ever to take such a discount, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports. That’s especially surprising given that Nurkic has to pick up a portion of his buyout from Croatian team KK Cedevita. He’ll receive 108% of the scale amount this year and 107% in the second season, while the pair of team option years on his rookie scale contract are at the usual 120%, according to Deeks.
  • The Blazers don’t mind Damian Lillard‘s participation in Team USA activities this summer as much as they would take issue with players who compete for other nations, as The Oregonian’s Mike Tokito explains. That’s because Team USA doesn’t expect heavy minutes and practice time out of its players the way some countries do.

NBA Will Discuss International Competition

In the wake of Paul George‘s gruesome injury in Friday’s Team USA scrimmage, many are questioning the wisdom of allowing NBA players to compete in international events.  At the very least, the NBA will discuss the merits of international competition this fall, commissioner Adam Silver tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter links).

I don’t anticipate a major shift in the NBA’s participation in international competition,” Silver said.  “We will continue to evaluate the pros and cons of participating in international tournaments [and] this will be a topic at our next NBA Competition Committee meeting in September and Board of Governors meeting in October.”

Of course, one could argue that the real blame for George’s injury lies with the unusual location of the basket stanchion at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.  Still, that won’t stop others in the league from pushing for NBA players to be kept out of international competition altogether.  Over the weekend, Mavs owner Mark Cuban said that he hoped George’s injury would lead the NBA to change its policy.

I think it’s a bigger issue than star players. We are being taken advantage of by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and to a lesser extent FIBA (International Federal Basketball Association),” Cuban said. “We take on an inordinate amount of financial risk for little, if any, quantifiable gain. It’s like our guiding principle is to lose money on every game and make it up in volume. There is no logic to our position. [We] just hope we get value somewhere in the future.”

Western Notes: Cuban, Pleiss, Sterling

In the wake of Paul George‘s terrible injury Friday night, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blasted the IOC, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Cuban hopes the injury will spur the NBA into creating its own international tournament where the league has more control as well as receives the benefits of holding such competitions. Cuban also said, “I think it’s a bigger issue than star players. We are being taken advantage of by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and to a lesser extent FIBA (International Federal Basketball Association). We take on an inordinate amount of financial risk for little, if any, quantifiable gain. It’s like our guiding principle is to lose money on every game and make it up in volume. There is no logic to our position. (We) just hope we get value somewhere in the future.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Thunder 2010 draft-and-stash pick Tibor Pleiss is expected to sign a two-year deal with Barcelona, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Oklahoma City had made an attempt to bring the German big man to the NBA this season but his buyout amount became an issue, but the team was still hoping to work out a deal for the 2015/16 campaign. Details of Pleiss’ potential deal with Barcelona and buyout amount haven’t yet been announced.
  • Sam Cassell is leaving the Wizards to join Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff with the Clippers, reports Michael Lee of The Washington Post. Los Angeles’ bench had recently lost Tyronn Lue to the Cavs and Alvin Gentry to the Warriors.
  • Donald Sterling built an empire but words were his undoing, write Nathan Fenno, Kim Christensen, and James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times. The trio profile the seemingly soon-to-be former Clippers owner’s rise and fall.

Central Notes: George, Butler, Rose

Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird issued a statement via press release regarding the injury to Paul George last night. Bird said, “Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family. It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery. There is no question about the impact this will have on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the ability to recover.”

Here’s more on George and the Central Division:

  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on George’s injury via NBA.com, Silver said, “It was difficult to watch the injury that Paul George sustained tonight while representing his country.  The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the NBA are with Paul and his family.”
  • With the horrific injury suffered by George there will be many who think that star players should cease their participation with Team USA, but Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News disagrees. Sefko is against legislation banning players to take part, and believes it should still be left up to each individual player to decide if they wish to play in FIBA events.
  • Out of all the moves the Pistons made this off season, the one that might pay off the most is bringing in Caron Butler, writes Kirkland Crawford of the Detroit Free Press. Crawford believes that in addition to his outside shooting, Butler will bring a toughness and strong work ethic to the team.
  • Derrick Rose has changed his stance on the reports regarding a potential rift between he and Bulls management, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Rose acknowledged speaking to Chicago’s chairman Jerry Reinsdorf by phone after the story broke and also said, “He [Reinsdorf] told me don’t worry about it, just stay focused and, like I said, it’s the past. It’s funny just hearing so many stories about what’s going on, and they’re coming out of, like, kind of nowhere, so it’s funny to hear about them, but it’s nothing that’s going on.’’

Odds & Ends: Durant, ‘Melo, Rockets

There are plenty of things to look forward to tonight in the NBA, including the announcement of the All-Star game reserves as well as the follow-up showdown between the Warriors and Clippers, whose Christmas Day match-up gave us a taste of how intriguing the playoff atmosphere in the Western Conference could be come April. Shortly after the 105-103 loss, Clippers forward Blake Griffin spoke about being ejected and didn’t seem too happy with Golden State:

“If you look at it, I didn’t do anything and I got thrown out of the game. It all boils down to they (referees) fell for it…To me, it’s cowardly basketball. I don’t know their intentions, but it worked…If I knew the answer I’d probably be in a different position. Tonight I got two technicals for nothing.”

Although Warriors coach Mark Jackson continues to insist that LAC-GSW isn’t a rivalry, Matt Moore of CBS Sports provides the evidence which suggests otherwise. In the meantime, here are some links to pass along from around the Association this afternoon:

  • Kevin Durant‘s decision this summer to sign with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency came from a desire to enhance his off-court marketing, and it had nothing to do with his feelings about Oklahoma City, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • An agent with ties to the Knicks tells Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling that he thinks Carmelo Anthony is “too Hollywood” to choose the Bulls in free agency and prefers New York or Los Angeles instead.
  • Some executives around the league were put off by the public negotiating the Rockets did when Omer Asik was on the block, and other front-office types were annoyed with Houston’s boasts after the Dwight Howard signing, as Zwerling reports in the same piece.
  • The Bulls would be “ecstatic” if Nikola Mirotic signed this summer for the mid-level exception, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. He’s almost certainly referring to the non-taxpayer’s mid-level, which would allow for a starting salary of $5.305MM.
  • Marco Belinelli says the Bulls didn’t make an offer to re-sign him this past summer, and he finds that surprising, as Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com observes. The Bulls chose to sign Mike Dunleavy instead, reportedly because they felt he was a better fit with Derrick Rose.
  • Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays a report from El Mundo Deportivo that China and Russia have decided to withdraw their bids from the FIFA World Cup Wild Card. Ryan Wosltat of the Toronto Sun (via Twitter) says that with those two teams out of the picture and Brazil, Greece, and Turkey locks for the tournament, then Canada should have a shot to make it as well.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post. 

Eastern Notes: Rondo, Granger, Rose, Deng

There’s been plenty of trade speculation regarding Rajon Rondo of the Celtics, despite GM Danny Ainge saying he’s not being shopped. The team has even begun discussing a contract extension with their newly named Captain. Rondo seems to be willing to be a part of the Celtics rebuilding efforts, and is open to signing an extension, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston.com. Rondo told Forsberg, “I don’t like change much. I wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of my career. Things don’t always seem to go that way, but like I said before, it’s just a business. I wouldn’t mind extending another 10 years in Boston.” Forsberg also writes that Ainge acknowledged that it would take “star” money to retain their point guard. In a separate article, Forsberg examines the merits for both player and team to work out an extension this offseason.

Here’s some other notes from around the Eastern Conference:

  •  With Danny Granger relegated to a bench role in the wake of his injuries, as well as the rise to stardom of Paul George, Sam Amick of USA Today examines how Granger’s acceptance of his new role can help the Pacers thrive.
  • Despite being out for the season with another knee injury, Derrick Rose was named to USA Basketball’s 28-player pool for this summer’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would be happy to see Rose play for Team USA this summer, writes Sean Highkin of USA Today. Rose is expected to be medically cleared by the summer, and Thibodeau said “If he’s healthy enough, I think it would be great for him. I know how strongly USA Basketball feels about him. If his health is there, I think it makes a lot of sense.”
  • Luol Deng was traded from the Bulls to the Cavaliers on January 7th. Since that time, the Bulls have gone 7-2, and might be playing the best basketball of their season. The Bulls seem to be thriving without their former player, but Deng isn’t doing quite as well in Cleveland, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. He’s having to play “baby-sitter” on a young, but talented roster. How the team jells the rest of the season will have a direct impact on the Cavaliers chances at re-signing Deng this summer.