Posted Jul 29 2010 5:41PM
• Great debate time. Should the Cavaliers retire LeBron James' No. 23 one day far, far into the future? The instant emotional response is easy to predict, especially in wounded Cleveland, but there's something to be said in practical moments about how the most-talented player in franchise history should have his jersey in the rafters. Nate Thurmond is there with just two seasons with the Cavs, a nod to his Akron roots. James will have played seven, possibly the majority of a career that could rank with the greats of the sport, with two MVPs and a conference title. It's just the exit that was really wrong.
• Don't be surprised if the United States goes to the world championships in August with one true center, and that one true center is Tyson Chandler, the same Tyson Chandler traded twice in the last year. Brook Lopez, the only other possibility, is on the bubble for one of the final three cuts and probably would have been gone by now except Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo allowed a second chance after learning Lopez was recovering from mononucleosis during the Las Vegas mini-camp. Jeff Green played some center in those workouts. With Amar'e Stoudemire forced out by insurance issues and David Lee by an injury, NBA forwards Lamar Odom or Kevin Love may become Chandler's backup in Turkey.
• Like the chances of the least-experienced player, Stephen Curry, sticking on the Team USA roster, even with all the point guards. Curry is a shooter and a passer, a better passer than most realized as he came out of Davidson with a reputation as a scorer who would have to transition to the point. Both are invaluable in the international game. Plus, the second-year Warrior has a great attitude and won't become a problem if he spends a lot of time in Turkey on the bench, which is invaluable to Coach K's blood pressure.
• A prediction on the final three cuts: Lopez (Love's passing, shooting and pick-and-roll defense make him a great fit for international play), Eric Gordon and Danny Granger. The final roster isn't due until Aug. 26, two days before the tournament begins. The U.S. basketball team still has exhibitions in Spain and Greece after facing France at Madison Square Garden, so all 15 current players may go to Europe before the decisions by Krzyzewski and USA Basketball managing director Colangelo are announced.
• Perfect perspective from Howard Beck in the New York Times. It's not just that Shaquille O'Neal remains unsigned. It's that Shaquille O'Neal remains unsigned while 13 other free-agent centers got new deals in July, including Darko Milicic at $20 million and Johan Petro at $10 million. Meanwhile, dot colleague Sekou Smith, as plugged into the Hawks as anyone, quotes one team official as saying, "The Shaq situation is not a dead subject for us. We are still exploring the possibilities."
• The update from the Bucks is that Andrew Bogut will be ready for the start of camp in the wake of the gruesome elbow injury late in the regular season that ruined the chances of turning an impressive second half into a playoff run.... Morris Almond, the former first-round pick of the Jazz, signed with Scavolini Pesaro in Italy.... Krzyzewski on Andre Igoudala at the Team USA mini-camp: "I thought he had as good a week as any player in Las Vegas." Didn't see that one coming.
• In the last 13 months, the Timberwolves have drafted two point guards in the lottery (Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn), signed two as prominent free agents (Ramon Sessions, Luke Ridnour) and, in the ultimate statement of turnover, if it's OK to use that word in connection to point guards, traded away and traded for Sebastian Telfair. And they're still short-handed. Flynn could miss at least the opening month of the regular season after hip surgery, Sessions has been traded and Telfair may be bought out, leaving Ridnour and a potential search for a backup.
• It's not the Rubio selection that will come back to haunt personnel boss David Kahn, by the way. It's Flynn, and not because of the medical news. Flynn, drafted with the sixth overall pick over Curry, who went seventh to the Warriors, is the one that's going to hurt even though it would have meant the same mocking at the time for drafting point guards back-to-back. Rubio is an even better prospect now than at the time of the hypefest leading to the 2009 draft, so he's either a trade chip with increasing value or going to someday arrive in Minnesota as a superior player. Kahn will be vindicated on that one.
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