Posted Aug 19 2010 7:13PM
• This just became about Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski. Depending on the circumstances of the failure if the United States does not win the gold at the world championships, a potential outcome that cannot be dismissed, they'll take the heat for picking a roster with Tyson Chandler as the only true center. Similarly, they should get inordinate credit, a lot more than crafting the sparkly Redeem Team for the 2008 Olympics, if the risky personnel decisions pay off. Colangelo and Coach K obviously know the international style is a lot less of a muscle game than the NBA -- Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James got a lot of time at power forward in Beijing -- and stuck to the best-player-available theory rather than jamming Brook Lopez or JaVale McGee on the roster just because they're big. Lamar Odom and Kevin Love will play center in Turkey and pass as well as most any European big man.
• The other reason Team USA can survive with small ball: Pau Gasol isn't playing for Spain, Andrew Bogut isn't playing for Australia, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman aren't playing for Germany, Mehmet Okur isn't playing for host Turkey. The Americans will face a steady pick-and-roll diet, not bruising tactics with the ball being pounded inside against non-centers.
• Even the final cut -- due Aug. 26, two days before the tournament opens -- will be an interesting call. Conventional wisdom still has Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook as the three players going for two spots. Curry and Gordon are shooters and Westbrook definitely is not, and the international game is more about hitting from the perimeter than the NBA, which puts the Thunder point guard at risk. But Westbrook is the mega-athlete defender who can force turnovers, and creating quick change of possessions will obviously be important for a small team that will want to play fast. Staying with the earlier prediction that Curry, the least-experienced pro on the roster, sticks because he has advanced passing skills to go with the range to combat the inevitable zones.
• Still liking Houston for a big move at some point, whether related to the new Carmelo Anthony rumors or a deal that materializes during the season. The Rockets have the best combination of veterans, prospects, big-money expiring contracts and draft picks in the league. Plus, they never shy from the aggressive move. Can't imagine anything happening soon with Anthony, if at all, though. No GM in Denver, no pressing need with camp still about five weeks away.
• Donald T. Sterling rides again. Turning the ordinary event of the Clippers unveiling new uniforms into another reminder of why the team prefers to keep its owner away from any open microphone, not to mention away from LeBron James when L.A. had its audience for a free-agent pitch, Sterling was asked by the Los Angeles Times about going into the offseason with enough cap space for a max deal and leaving with Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes as the headliner veteran acquisitions. "If I really called the shots," DTS replied, "we wouldn't have signed Gomes and what's the other guy's name?" He added: "I swear to you, I never heard of these guys, but what if the coach says he wants them?" Good times, good times.
• Look for Adonal Foyle to go directly from retiring to the Magic front office in a player-development role, probably before the start of camp. In the meantime, Foyle, one of the most-respected player voices in the league, plans to step down as first vice president of the union at an important time in talks on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Billy Hunter, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Assn., and Derek Fisher, the group's president, could ask him to stay on a little longer, but Foyle is leaning toward a clean break that allows everyone to move on to the future. Besides, the new role in Orlando within a month or so will make him -- gasp! -- management.
• Try finding a greater statement on level of respect within the game than Ann Meyers Drysdale being asked by four former players and coaches to present them for Hall of Fame induction. It's a non-speaking role and entirely ceremonial -- the presenter, always a member of the Hall, stands a few feet away on stage as the honoree gives a speech -- but sometimes the choices are telling and interesting, such as Michael Jordan surprisingly picking David Thompson in 2009 and Karl Malone shocking even Willis Reed by choosing Reed this year. But Cynthia Cooper (2010), C. Vivian Stringer (2009), Anne Donovan (1995) and Carol Blazejowski (1994) all asked Meyers Drysdale, currently a vice president of the Suns and general manager of the WNBA Mercury, to stand up with them.
• And one, from the mailbag: I know that there is someone that can give Allen Iverson a chance. He still has it in him to play. Let's start pushing for someone team to take him on one more time! Go Allen! Where is the heart???????????? --Paula, Alexandria, Va.
A lot of fans have been pushing for more than a year now. There's some tired arms around the world who refuse to believe mounting evidence that teams don't find the benefits worth the potential trouble anymore. But the chant will begin to increase again as camp approaches.
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