Friday, 15 August 2014

DeMarcus Cousins injured at USA Basketball practic



CHICAGO -- DeMarcus Cousins is down, not out.
The latest USA Basketball is day to day after injuring his right knee when Anthony Davis fell on him as they dove for a loose ball near the end of a scrimmage Thursday.
Tests showed no structural damage, but USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said even before the results that he didn't expect Cousins to play in Saturday's game against Brazil.

USA Basketball moves forward after Paul George injury



CHICAGO -- When Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay got the call asking him to join USA Basketball, one of the people who pushed hardest for him to go was Vivek Ranadive, the Kings' owner.
"Guys are going to get hurt," Gay said Thursday. "You might as well go out here and play for something."
Paul George's gruesome injury during a scrimmage in Las Vegas was followed a few days later by Kevin Durant's surprise withdrawal.
But one had nothing to do with the other, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo insisted, and players said they never wavered in their commitment for the FIBA World Cup.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Andrew Wiggins told Kansas coach Bill Self he wanted to be traded

Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports
Playing alongside LeBron James seems like it would be any basketball player’s dream, but not for No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins said last week in an awkward SportsCenter interview that he just wants to “play for a team that wants me,” and his wish is being granted now that the Cavaliers and Timberwolves have agreed to a deal that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland and Wiggins to Minnesota. Although Wiggins maintained that he believed the Cavaliers wanted him on the team, his former coach Bill Self revealed that Wiggins told him he wanted to leave Cleveland.
Via the AP:
“When all this trade stuff started, I talked to Andrew and Andrew told me, “I hope I get traded,” Self said. “And I’m like, ‘No you don’t.’ And he said, “Coach, I do. It’s better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I’m forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they’re going to be patient with me and I’m going to be a piece.”
According to Self, Wiggins would rather be the No. 1 guy on a rebuilding team than be an asset on a championship contender, or a sidekick to James. Wiggins is moving to an ideal situation in Minnesota — he doesn’t have to be a shooting guard, has a sensational point guard in Ricky Rubio, and won’t face the overwhelming expectations that he would in Cleveland. NBA rookies may not believe Wiggins will be the Rookie of the Year, but he’s bringing a star mentality to Minnesota.

David Stern says world was 'horribly unfair' to LeBron after 'The Decision'

Ed Szczepanski, USA TODAY Sports

In a recent Q&A with, former NBA Commissioner David Stern said that he “thought the world was being horribly unfair” to LeBron James after “The Decision” in 2010, when James revealed he would be leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.
Now that James is heading back to Cleveland, it’s water under the bridge, but Stern still feels people reacted poorly to the last decision.
From the Q&A with’s David Aldridge:
I told LeBron, I thought that regardless of how poorly executed The Decision was, I thought the world was being horribly unfair to him. He was entitled to make that decision and he was entitled to make the decision he made. If it makes him happy, then I’m happy. I think it’s great. The additional dividend being, apparently, he has been much appreciated by the fans of the world for his decision to return to Cleveland. And I think that’s wonderful. And I think that it demonstrates how embedded the NBA is into the psyche of not just America, but maybe even the world.
Stern’s right that the world was a bit unfair to James after “The Decision,” but just dismissing how “poorly executed” it was sort of misses the entire point. The biggest problem with “The Decision” wasn’t that James decided to go to Miami. The biggest problem with “The Decision” was “The Decision.” It was an entertainment spectacle masquerading as a charity event that yanked out the heart of every Cleveland sports fan.
James had every right to go to Miami, and if he had executed the 2010 decision like he did this one, it wouldn’t have gotten the reaction it did. Or, not quite the reaction it did.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Jason Sudeikis returns as NBC's soccer-savvy football coach Ted Lasso

When we last saw Coach Ted Lasso, he was making the transition from American football to the European version. It was all part of NBC’s promotion of its Premier League coverage. In this newest installment, Coach Lasso has been fired from his coaching job in the Premier League and is relegated to doing television work and coaching the St. Katherine’s Fighting Owls — not that he knows what relegated means. Our favorite moments from the new spot are listed below.

1. “I’m LeVar Burton from Star Trek.”

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2. Beers with Timmy Howard.


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3. Rebecca Lowe accurately guesses Ted’s nickname.


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4. The keys to being a good soccer team “1. Play physical; 2. Give 100%; 3. Be sponsored by a Middle Eastern Airline.”

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Tim Hardaway Jr. thinks a second-round draft pick is a key to the Knicks' success

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
When Carmelo Anthony agreed to come back to the Knicks for the 2014-15 season after exploring his options, his message to his teammates was concise and direct.
“He just said it was time to work,” said Tim Hardaway Jr. “And that’s when everyone knew he was on a mission.”
If there is a way best to define the Knicks 2013-14 season, it might just be in what happened after it was all over. A new coach. The introduction of Phil Jackson. The departure of Tyson Chandler. And the long-running questions about exactly what went wrong last season and how much of it was a lack of chemistry, options, leadership or just plain bad luck.
“It was a lot of injuries that happened last year,” Hardaway Jr. said. “We didn’t really click on all cylinders … I would never say we never played hard, I mean we tried our hardest when we were out there, [but] some nights the ball just wasn’t going in. Some nights just weren’t our night.”
The Knicks also always seemed to be missing something in the team’s chemistry, often resulting in a frustrated Anthony and frustrated Chandler. In addition to working on his own game, Hardaway Jr. pointed to the Knicks second-round draft pick, Cleanthony Early, as a guy that could bring a change to the franchise from his first time on the court. It was a heralded draft pick — at 6-8, Early proved to be a dominating presence on the court in college, helping to lead Wichita State to surprising success especially in the regular season. Hardaway Jr. said he’d watched Early during his college years and thought he was one of the best players in the NCAA last season.
Early might also be the perfect anecdote to some of the effort problems that appeared to plague the Knicks at times last year, when photos of Anthony on the bench shaking his head at defensive lapses seemed at times to define everything about the team.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports Images

“Cleanthony is just the type of ballplayer that we need, that the city of New York needs. He’s from here — he’s from the Bronx — and he’s just ready to go. You could see in the summer league,” Hardaway Jr. said. “[...] He’s got a sense of urgency and grittiness [that he'll bring to] our team to come out and do whatever he can to help us win.”
Hardaway Jr, who spoke to For The Win as part of a Citi Kids program at Citi Field, where he talked to a group of kids from local YMCAs about leadership, drive and determination. It’s three qualities that he’s tried to embody this summer while playing in the summer league, with the USA Basketball select team and on his own. Through USA Basketball, he got to know some of the other young NBA standouts including Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Draymond Green. When asked about Paul George’s leg break, he cringed and shook his head.
“That’s really — I wouldn’t say a close friend — but a guy I always talk to when I see him,” he said. “Hopefully he gets a speedy recovery because it’s not going to be the same without him on the court.”

Agent: Ray Allen hasn't decided if he'll play next season



Ray Allen still might return for a 19th season in the NBA. He also might retire. But he has not officially made a decision yet, according to agent Jim Tanner.
Allen has said publicly that he plans to wait until at least September to decide if he'll return for the 2014-15 season, and Tanner reiterated that stance Saturday evening.
"As Ray has previously stated, he is taking this time to make a decision whether or not he will play next season," Tanner said in a statement obtained by NBA SPORT UPDATES. "Any reports otherwise are false."
Earlier Saturday, reported that Allen has privately told those close to him that he will put off retirement and play this coming season.
Allen turned 39 on July 20, but the NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers could be a coveted free-agent addition to any title contender.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Paul Walker (1973-2013): ‘Fast & Furious’ Star Dies in Car Crash


Actor Paul Walker, known worldwide for the Fast & Furious franchise, died Saturday after a fiery car crash in Santa Clarita, CA., near Los Angeles. He was 40.
The crash occurred at 3:30 pm, when a Porsche Carrera GT hit a light post and was engulfed by flames. A statement in the actor’s Facebook page said Walker was a passenger in a friend’s car. At the time of the accident, Walker and his friend had left a fundraising event for Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide, which he founded in 2010 to help those affected by natural disasters. In that same year, Walker flew to Chile and Haiti to take part of humanitarian relief efforts after those countries were hit by devastating earthquakes.
On early Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported the police was looking into whether speed had been a factor in the crash.
This was a busy year for Walker, who released Fast & Furious 6 (the franchise’s top-grossing of them all, with almost $800 million at the box office), Pawn Shop Chronicles, and the straight-to-DVD/Blu-ray Vehicle 9, which only opened in Bahrein. His next movie, Hours (opening December 13), deals with a man trapped in a New Orleans hospital when Hurricane Katrina hits, leaving him to care for his newborn after the baby’s mother passed during birth, and in 2014 he’ll be seen on Fast & Furious 7 (still in production) and Brick Mansions, a remake of the 2004 French film District B13. He was reportedly going to appear as Agent 47 in the reboot of 2007′s Hitman.
Social media was inundated by messages from fans and co-workers, but perhaps none more moving than that of Fast & Furious co-star Tyrese Gibson.
“My heart is hurting so bad no one can make me believe this is real,” Gibson wrote on his Instagram page on Saturday. “Father God I pray that you send clarity over this cause I just don’t understand. My heart hurts it’s broken no one can convince me that this is real…. Prayer warriors please pray real hard for his only child, his daughter and family…#HeartOfAnAngel13YrsFamilyForeverWeJustCelebreatedYour40thBirthday….. My God… My God… I can’t believe I’m writing this”
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter Meadow.

Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett may be better off with Timberwolves

LeBron James is the ideal teammate, but ...
... Andrew Wiggins has a team that wants him ... Anthony Bennett might start. ... Wiggins won't be forced to play shooting guard. ... Bennett can test himself in different roles at either forward spot. ... Wiggins and Bennett won't face immediate title expectations. ... Wiggins and Bennett can draw their own hype and step out of the shadows.
The Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to trade Wiggins and Bennett along with a future first-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star power Kevin Love, NBASPORTUPDATES reportedThursday. In doing so, they freed the No. 1 picks of the past two NBA drafts (Wiggins in June, Bennett in 2013) to start anew.

USA basketball point guard competition a tight one

LAS VEGAS – Damian Lillard sized up Bradley Beal on the left wing on Wednesday, the shot clock winding down as his jab step rose up.
It came in a flash, the right foot of the Portland Trailblazers point guard lashing out at the Washington Wizards shooting guard and forcing him onto his heels. With Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo just a few feet away – his legs crossed at center court as he sat in his folding chair – Lillard rose up through that space he had created for a 3-pointer that left the many onlookers inside UNLV's Mendenhall Center amazed and entertained. And this, mind you, is the guy who may not even make this star-studded team.
The Team USA roster that currently stands at 18 players will eventually be trimmed down to 12 for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that begins on Aug. 30 in Bilbao, Spain, and no spot is more loaded than the point guard position. From Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) to Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), John Wall (Washington Wizards) and Lillard, this elite competition for limited spots is a necessary evil that comes with having so much talent.

Kevin Durant pulls out of Team USA for FIBA World Cup

Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant will not play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup later this summer in Spain, citing mental and physical exhaustion.
"This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country," Durant said in a statement. "I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint."I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them."

Friday, 1 August 2014

Pistons' Drummond thinks Greg Monroe is coming home

LAS VEGAS — Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe had dates in Sin City this week.
Drummond is one of a group of players on the UNLV campus fighting for a roster spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the FIBA Basketball World Cup this month in Spain.
Monroe, the Detroit Pistons' union representative, was in attendance when the players' union elected a new executive director this week.
Drummond was there as well, so it really wasn't the time for a sales job. But it wasn't needed — at least not from Drummond.
The second-year center has been vocal about wanting Monroe, a restricted free agent, to return to the Pistons.
And Drummond said Thursday that he is pretty certain that Monroe's contract impasse will be resolved and Monroe will be wearing a Pistons uniform next season.

NBA considering a change in draft lottery

PHILADELPHIA – The NBA Competition Committee has yet to determine whether it will recommend altering the draft lottery as early as next season in an attempt to dissuade teams like the Philadelphia 76ers from deliberately fielding a non-competitive roster in order to acquire a high draft pick, a change reportedly being pursued by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, according to a league source.
But any ultimate decision will be made by the NBA Board of Governors, which could vote to redistribute the odds of landing the top draft pick at their next meeting in October.
The 76ers, entering the second year of a rebuilding program under general manager Sam Hinkie after being mired in mediocrity for most of the last decade, voiced strong opposition to such a change during league meetings in Las Vegas earlier this month, according to an ESPN report.
The 76ers did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but a team source said it's "a stretch" to say the club "strongly" opposes changing the lottery odds. "But no team ... that is unlikely to compete for the playoffs would want this. Right?"
The proposal "gives more incentive for mid-level teams ... to not stretch for the playoffs," the source said. That's a "tough message on parity."
Philadelphia blatantly sacrificed last season in an effort to acquire a top draft pick, stripping the roster of veteran talent and keeping rookie center Nerlens Noel, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament in February 2012, sidelined for the duration of the team's 19-63 slog, which included an NBA-record 26-game losing streak and resulted in the second-worst record in the league.
"I think the season has been a huge success for us," 76ers owner Josh Harris said in April. "All these pieces are in place to make this an elite team that will compete consistently for the NBA championship. There are no shortcuts to it. Unfortunately, it takes a long time. I'm really happy with the progress."
Hinkie appeared to double down on the tanking tactic for the upcoming season by using two lottery picks on players unable to immediately compete for the team. The 76ers selected center Joel Embiid, who is likely to miss the season with a stress fracture in his right foot, with the third overall pick and traded the 10th pick to Orlando to acquire a future first-round selection and Croatian forward Dario Saric, who is contractually obligated to play the next two seasons overseas. The 76ers also have nearly $30 million in unused salary cap space.
In March, Silver praised the 76ers' rebuilding strategy.
"It's an insult to the entire league to suggest that these guys are going out on the floor and aren't doing their very best to win games…" Silver said. "You look at any business, you look at short-term results and long-term results. And if you told a business, if somebody told you a business was going to operate on a quarter-by-quarter [basis], you'd say, 'That's not the way to operate a business.' You'd say, 'You need a strategy. You need to look at the long-term.' And I think what this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What they're doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up.
"And so, if you look at what's happened here over the last several years, it's badly needed," he said. "Somebody needs a plan. Somebody needs a vision to win here. And I think that's what's happening."
The lottery system was originally adopted in 1985 in response to tanking accusations and altered to encompass only the top three picks in 1987. A weighted system was instituted in 1990, and the odds have since been modified on a number of occasions.
In its current incarnation, each season the 14 non-playoff teams are given diminishing odds of acquiring one of the top three overall draft picks, with the team with the NBA's worst record receiving a 25 percent chance at landing the No. 1 overall selection.
A number of alterations have been discussed, with one proposed change reportedly providing the six worst teams equal odds of acquiring the top pick.
In May, the Cleveland Cavaliers received the top draft pick for the third time in four seasons, despite finishing with the ninth-worst record in the league and owning just a 1.7 percent chance of winning the lottery. The team with the worst record last won the lottery in 2004.
The competition committee will meet again in late September, followed by the board's meeting in October.
"As the NBA always does, it is taking a look at certain practices and attempting to see if they are still relevant. The Draft Lottery is one of those," a source said. "No decision has been made at this time to alter it or to leave it as is."

Dwyane Wade knew LeBron was leaving before he told him

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
When LeBron James was making his decision about the Cavaliers, he spent some time in Las Vegas with Dwyane Wade, his teammate who brought him to the Miami Heat and seems to be a close friend.
According to Wade, they made it through the whole trip without James actually telling him he what he had decided.
But in his first interview about James’ departure, Wade told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he knew from James’ body language he was leaving.
“He called me the next day. But I knew then. Obviously he still had to say the final yay or nay, but I knew. I could tell.”
In the end though, Wade seems to have come to terms with James’ choice — even if it means the end of the Big Three.
Again, from the Sun Sentinel
“As his friend, I’m just supportive,” said Wade, who made no recruiting pitches to James. “As crazy as that might sound, I’m supportive of my friends doing what makes them happy. Obviously, same thing with him in this situation. You’ve gotta do what makes you happy — selfishly do what makes you happy. The decision to go back home was that.”