Larry Drew II

USA Basketball Announces Roster For First World Cup Qualifiers

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers, bringing back four members of the squad that won gold earlier this year in FIBA’s AmeriCup tournament.

Here’s Team USA’s full 12-man roster:

The squad, which will be coached once again by Jeff Van Gundy, is comprised almost entirely of G League players, since most of the qualifying tournaments take place during the NBA season, preventing NBA players from participating. Team USA’s goal is for Van Gundy’s squad of G Leaguers to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in August and September, when NBA players will be free to participate.

The new-look USA Basketball program is off to a good start, having gone 5-0 this summer to win a gold medal at the AmeriCup tournament. Drew, Hearn, Munford, and Warney were all part of that team.

This time around, Team USA will face Puerto Rico on November 23 and then Mexico on November 26. After those contests, the first round of World Cup qualifiers will resume in February before concluding in July. The top three teams in each first-round group will advance to the second round, which begins in September 2018 and concludes in February 2019, so the qualifying process will take some time to play out.

Meanwhile, the G League teams temporarily losing players to Team USA will be permitted one free move per lost player from the available player pool, tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days.

Heat Waive Larry Drew II, Sign Tony Mitchell

The Heat have made a change to their roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve waived guard Larry Drew II. Using the newly-opened roster spot, the club signed free agent forward Tony Mitchell.

Drew, who signed with the Heat last month, has been a regular contributor for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate, for the last several years, appearing in 96 games for the squad since 2013. He figures to return to Sioux Falls to open the 2017/18 campaign.

As for Mitchell, the Alabama alum had a brief NBA stint back in 2013/14, playing sparingly in three games for the Bucks. Since then, he has spent most of his time playing for teams overseas. Mitchell – not to be confused with the North Texas product who shares the same name and played for the Pistons in 2013/14 – also looks like a good bet to land with the Sioux Falls Skyforce at some point.

With the pair of roster moves, the Heat’s roster count remains at 20 players. Miami, which is carrying one player on a two-way contract, will need to eventually remove four players from its NBA roster to reach the 15-man maximum.

Heat Notes: G League, Winslow, Whiteside, Williams

The Heat have passed the midway point of the preseason, which means a roster shakeup could be on the way, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. NBA rules state that players are eligible for an “affiliate” tag after spending half the preseason with a team. Winderman uses Erik McCree as an example, saying if he were to be waived now, then sign with another team and get waived again before the season opens, he would be assigned to Miami’s G League affiliate.

Waiving players once they pass the midway point and then signing replacements allows teams to create four affiliate spots for their G League franchises. The Heat pursued that strategy last year when they waived Stefan Jankovic and Keith Benson in the preseason, then signed Vashil Fernandez and Luis Montero, and all four wound up in Sioux Falls. In addition to McCree, Derrick Walton Jr., Matt Williams and Larry Drew II are eligible to join the Skyforce. Drew would be a returning player rather than an affiliate player, while Walton already has a two-way contract and will not count against the 15-man roster limit.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Justise Winslow will find out soon if the extra time he has been spending with shooting  consultant Rob Fodor is paying off, Winderman adds in a separate piece. The third-year forward has excelled in other areas, but shooting has been a persistent problem since he entered the league. He is a 40% career shooter from the field and 26% from 3-point range and is trying to bounce back from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that limited him to 18 games last season. “The way I see it in the basketball world, or just in general, God doesn’t give everyone everything,” Winslow said. “… And in the sense of basketball, once that thing gets figured out, there’s not much you could say I can’t do. I can bring the ball up. I can guard your best player. I can rebound. I can find my open shooters. I can push it on the break. So once that minor detail gets settled out, I think we’re going to have a very fun ride.”
  • Hassan Whiteside is a traditional low-post center, but the Heat would like to see him expand his shooting range, Winderman adds in another story.
  • Williams’ summer league performance gave him a shot to make the Heat roster, writes Mike Gramajo of The Miami Herald. The 23-year-old signed with Miami in late July after impressing the coaching staff with his performance during the summer. “It feels good just to know that my hard work is starting to pay off,” Williams said. “I’m with a great organization, and it couldn’t be better.”

Heat Sign Larry Drew II

The Heat announced the signing of guard Larry Drew II on Tuesday. This marks the third time in five seasons that Miami will bring the UCLA product to training camp.

Drew, 27, won a gold medal earlier this month as a member of the United States squad at 2017 FIBA AmeriCup. The 6’2″ guard averaged 4.6 PPG, 5.0 APG, and 2.0 RPG in almost 19.5 minutes per contest. In recent years, Drew has played internationally for teams in both Lithuania and Puerto Rico.

Two seasons ago, Drew made 12 appearances for the 2014/15 Sixers team, averaging 3.8 PPG and 3.8 APG in 18.3 minutes per game.

Entering 2017/18, Drew has significant experience in the G League, where he has played in 96 games (all with the Sioux Falls Skyforce) while averaging 10.8 PPG, 7.8 APG, and 3.4 RPG while shooting nearly 48% from the field.

USA Basketball Announces AmeriCup Roster

After taking 17 players to training camp, USA Basketball has narrowed that group down to 12 players for its official AmeriCup roster, the program announced in a press release. The players representing Team USA in next week’s AmeriCup tournament will be as follows:

The five players who missed the cut for the final roster were Rod Benson, Will Davis II, Ra’Shad James, Darius Morris, and Derek Willis.

“All 17 guys that came to camp in Houston had a strong case that they could have made that they should have been selected, but unfortunately, we could only take 12,” said U.S. coach Jeff Van Gundy. “It was very, very difficult getting down to that number, but we feel very happy with the guys that we have selected. We feel we have positional versatility, we have a good balance between size and quickness, so it will be interesting for us to go to Uruguay and see what we can do.”

As we detailed in an earlier story, FIBA has changed its format for qualifying for marquee events like the World Cup and the Olympics, and many of the qualifier tournaments will now take place during the NBA season. For those events, Team USA intends to primarily use players who have been spending time overseas and in the G League, with the bigger-name players taking over for the main events in 2019 and 2020.

Team USA doesn’t need to win the AmeriCup to qualify for the next World Cup and Olympics, but it’s a tournament the U.S. must participate in to eventually play in more crucial events. Van Gundy’s squad will participate in preliminary round games in Uruguay starting next Monday. If Team USA wins its group – which also includes Panama, the Dominican Republic, and host Uruguay – it would advance to the semifinals in Argentina in early September.

The program won’t face real pressure to win until November, when Team USA need a top-three finish in a pool that includes Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba in order to start advancing to later qualifiers. For more in-depth details on how those qualifiers work, be sure to check out FIBA’s breakdowns for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

17 Players Vying For Spots On USA’s AmeriCup Roster

USA Basketball has begun the process of selecting its roster for the AmeriCup 2017, the first of a series of qualifying tournaments under FIBA’s new format. As Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press details, Team USA doesn’t need to win the AmeriCup to qualify for the next World Cup and Olympics, but it’s a tournament the U.S. must participate in to eventually play in more crucial events.

Because upcoming qualifiers will take place during the NBA season, Team USA is putting together a roster primarily made up of G League players and veterans who have been playing overseas, as we previously learned. With training camp set to begin on Thursday, 17 hopefuls are suiting up for Team USA, with the program poised to eventually pare that group down to a 12-man roster.

Here are Team USA’s training camp participants, via USA Basketball:

Although there are no high-profile names in this group, several players have some NBA experience. Hilliard is currently a free agent, but appeared in 77 games over the last two seasons for the Pistons. Drew, Munford, and Plumlee have all played in at least a dozen NBA games.

Marshall, Morris, and Reggie Williams are perhaps the most notable names on the list, having played regular rotation roles for various NBA teams in recent years. Marshall was a lottery pick in the 2012 draft, while Williams has appeared in more than 200 NBA games since 2010.

None of the players on Team USA’s training camp roster are currently under contract with an NBA club, but Willis – the only player of the group who has yet to play professional ball – has reportedly agreed to a training camp deal with the Pistons.

The club will be coached by Jeff Van Gundy, an international rookie himself, and will eventually participate in preliminary round games in Uruguay later this month. If Team USA wins its group – which also includes Panama, the Dominican Republic, and host Uruguay – it would advance to the semifinals in Argentina in early September.

As Mahoney outlines in his report, Team USA won’t face real pressure to win until November, when the club need a top-three finish in a pool that includes Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba in order to start advancing to later qualifiers. For more in-depth details on how those qualifiers work, be sure to check out FIBA’s breakdowns for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

Larry Drew II To Play In France

Larry Drew II has signed a deal with AS Monaco Basket in France, according to David Pick of (Twitter link). The point guard played for the Pelicans in this year’s summer league.

Drew II signed two 10-day contracts with the Sixers in January of last season, but was not re-signed for the remainder of the year. Philadelphia was pleased with the production it received from the University of California product, but the team didn’t want to tie up an additional roster spot before the trade deadline.

Flexibility,” coach Brett Brown said last season when asked why the team didn’t sign Drew for the rest of the 2014/15 campaign. “The trade deadline is coming up, and we need flexibility. We may see [Larry] again. Who knows? What I do know is he was an ‘A’. He did everything and some, and it doesn’t prohibit us from revisiting him [in the future] at all.”

The 25-year-old has shown play-making ability, but his inconsistent jumper needs improvement if he is going to have a career in the NBA. He averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 15.4% from behind the arc during his 12 games as a Sixer last year.

Eastern Notes: Sixers, Early, Magic

Scott Skiles has been mentioned as a candidate to take over as coach of the Magic, but he has a reputation as being difficult for players to get along with, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype writes. Keyon Dooling, who played for Skiles when both were with the Bucks, thinks that Skiles will do better in his next coaching job, Sierra notes. “Skiles is a high-pedigree coach,” Dooling said. “A lot of times when coaches get fired, they get better at wherever they were weak. [If he gets the Orlando job] I think he’ll be better in how he deals with players this time. During my time in Milwaukee, he had an average relationship with the players. I don’t think it was great, I don’t think it was bad. His work ethic, X’s and O’s and game-planning were his strengths. Where he fell short is maybe with people.”

Here’s the latest from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks have assigned Cleanthony Early to their D-League affiliate in Westchester, the team announced. This will be Early’s second trip of the season to the D-League.
  • Tobias Harris says that the Magic need to rally around interim coach James Borrego, John Denton of writes (Twitter link). “We have to have his back. We have to want to win and play hard and do all that we can do to help [JB].
  • The Sixers were pleased with the production that they received from Larry Drew II, but the rookie was caught in an unfortunate numbers game that prevented Philadelphia from signing Drew for the remainder of the season, Max Rappaport of writes. “Flexibility,” coach Brett Brown said when asked why the team didn’t sign Drew for the rest of the 2014/15 campaign. “The trade deadline is coming up, and we need flexibility. We may see [Larry] again. Who knows? What I do know is he was an ‘A’. He did everything and some, and it doesn’t prohibit us from revisiting him [in the future] at all.”
  • Jacque Vaughn became the fall guy for the Magic, who are in the third season of their rebuilding project and appear to be heading in the wrong direction as a franchise, Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel writes.
  • One of the issues that the Magic‘s front office had with Vaughn was his inconsistent use of Harris and Maurice Harkless, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Both players received sporadic playing time under Vaughn, which didn’t sit well with Orlando’s GM Rob Hennigan and CEO Alex Martins, Schmitz notes.

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Nets, Stoudemire, Drew

Phil Jackson‘s hints to Harvey Araton of The New York Times that his stay as Knicks president might not be a lengthy one lead Baxter Holmes of to wonder if the door is ajar for a return of the Zen Master to the Lakers, where Jim Buss is on a three-year timetable to succeed. Still, Jackson told Brian Lewis of the New York Post within the past week that “I’ve kind of just divorced myself from them,” in reference to the Lakers, so it seems a purple-and-gold reunion is almost certainly not in the cards. Here’s more from Jackson’s current division:

  • Trade rumors have swirled around Brook Lopez, and a recent report cast some doubt about the long-term job security of coach Lionel Hollins, but Lopez and Hollins have begun to forge a better working relationship, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News details. Hollins’ public criticism of Lopez and others had bothered Nets ownership, as sources recently told Mike Mazzeo of
  • Amar’e Stoudemire said today that he doesn’t anticipate he’ll be traded this year, and that while he hasn’t had a conversation with the Knicks front office about a future with the team beyond this season, he expects one to take place soon, observes Adam Zagoria of
  • Larry Drew II‘s 10-day contract with the Sixers expires tonight, but coach Brett Brown made it plain Tuesday that he’s a fan of the point guard, notes Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link). Drew is on his second 10-day arrangement with Philadelphia, so any subsequent deal between the sides would have to cover the rest of the season.
  • Sources tell Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia that former Knicks guard Chris Smith is headed to play for KB Peja in Kosovo. The Knicks signed Smith, the brother of J.R. Smith, to a minimum-salary contract with a fully guaranteed salary for last season, but they waived him a little more than two months into 2013/14.

Eastern Notes: Kobe, Wizards, Durant, Lopez

Kobe Bryant wanted to join the Wizards more than a decade ago when Michael Jordan was with the team, Bryant acknowledged to Michael Lee of The Washington Post. While Jordan was playing with the Wizards, Bryant told him several times that he wanted to come to Washington, assuming that Jordan would again head basketball operations for the Wizards as he did before his comeback, sources tell Lee. Jordan was confident he would sign Bryant when he became a free agent in 2004, Lee hears, but the current Hornets owner never got that chance, since then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin decided against letting Jordan run the front office upon his final retirement from playing in 2003. The Wizards missed out on a star then, but they have their sights set on acquiring one a dozen years later, as we detail:

  • It’s a long shot but more than a pipe dream that the Wizards would land Kevin Durant when he hits free agency in 2016, as TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for A D.C. income tax loophole would allow Durant to save more than $700K per year in tax payments if he played for the Wizards instead of the Thunder, as Aldridge explains. However, the Thunder, who hold Durant’s Bird rights, can offer better annual salary raises than the Wizards or any other team can.
  • J.R. Smith got over some initial mixed feelings about the trade that sent him from the Knicks to the Cavs and calls playing for Cleveland “the best situation for me as a person,” as he told Aldridge for the same piece. Smith has a player option worth nearly $6.4MM for next season.
  • Trade candidate Brook Lopez would prefer to stay with the Nets, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports writes amid his weekly power rankings.
  • Scouts, coaches and GMs at the D-League showcase were puzzled when the Sixers signed Larry Drew II, who had been playing for the Heat’s affiliate, to a 10-day contract earlier this month, as Gino Pilato of D-League Digest hears (Twitter links). Drew put up strong numbers, with 10.1 assists per game and 40.4% three-point shooting in 21 D-League appearances this year, but there were other, more intriguing prospects, Pilato believes. Drew signed his second 10-day deal with Philly earlier today.
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