Posted on: August 24, 2010 1:58 pm
Celtics guard asks to be cut for personal reasons, final roster set.
Posted by Matt Moore
A shocking development came down the pipeline of Team USA today, as Rajon Rondo has been cut from the team, after asking to withdraw for personal reasons . Head of USA basketball Jerry Colangelo thanked Rondo for his effort and commitment and issued a statement of support for the Celtics guard. Rondo had been the starter for Team USA, but had also looked lackadaiscal and dispassionate for long stretches.
The final cut was widely talked about being between Stephen Curry, whose game fits well on the international stage but who has been battling injury, and Russell Westbrook, the lowest name guard on roster. With Rondo out, they both make the team. Losing Rondo hurts in several key areas however. While a lot of talk has been about the lack of shooting on Team USA, an area Rondo was not equipped to help in, his pressure perimeter defense and distribution skills were unmatched among the plethora of guards Coach K and Colangelo decided to take overseas. Losing him means Derrick Rose will need to step up considerably on both sides of the ball to be the distributor, with Chauncey Billups primarily playing shooting guard for the club.
The final Team USA roster, finalized today with Rondo's withdrawal:
Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies)
Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers)
Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers)
Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers)
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The 2010 FIBA World Championships begin Saturday.
Posted on: August 3, 2010 8:27 am
Edited on: August 5, 2010 8:49 am
Posted by Matt Moore
The new NBA superpower in Miami will definitely have its hands full to start the season as the New Big 3 takes on the Old Big 3. Welcome to being the hunted, ring or no ring. The Boston Globe reports that the NBA season will kick off October 26th with the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics hosting the Miami Heat. If this report and the Orlando Sentinel report regarding the game against Orlando on the 28th are correct, it means two things.
One, Miami will immediately be under fire to produce wins. Starting the season off 0-2 would mean almost nothing in terms of their capacity as a team, but would result in a cataclysmic fire of negative press that would follow them until the notched several significant wins. Knocking off the Pacers on a Tuesday will not help things if they start off winless against the two best teams in the East outside of Miami, both of which have been to the Finals the past two seasons.
Two, the Heat will not open their own arena until at least Friday or Saturday, meaning it doesn't look like the NBA trusts the Miami market to create a particularly rowdy atmosphere, compared to what greets the Big 3 on opening night. Two road games against the two other top East teams? Baptism by fire, super-friends. Baptism by fire.
Meanwhile, the revelation that the season kicks off with Miami and Boston leads us to wonder what team the defending champion Lakers will face. Rampant speculation has suggested Oklahoma City, which would certainly bring the most high profile game for the Western second game of the expected doubleheader. Other possible options include the Suns, Nuggets, Spurs, and Mavericks.
We'll have more on the opening night matchups when the NBA officially releases its opening night, Christmas Day, and MLK day schedule tonight on NBATV.
Posted on: July 28, 2010 5:37 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 12:12 am
Posted by Matt Moore
Not everyone gets to go to Istanbul (not Constantinople ). Today Team USA officials revealed the roster finalists that will head to New York for the last round of cuts before starting international play for this summer's FIBA World Championships. Royce has told you all about who made it. But who got cut?
Just as we told you earlier that FanHouse had reported , Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, O.J. Mayo and JaVale McGee were cut from the roster before the team heads to New York. Evans was known for a while, as he tweaked his ankle at the start of camp and was going to be unavailable for the team regardless. The others, though, represent a set of confusing decisions that aren't extremely perplexing, but are enough to make you scratch your head, especially when you examining who they were replaced with. Some of these could be due to conflicts, personality clashes, or injury, but based on basketball, there are some question marks.
These players who made the cut were locks, and should have been:
1. Kevin Durant: Best player available.
2. Chauncey Billups: Veteran leadership.
3. Lamar Odom: Who doesn't want a space cadet small forward with great length who occasionally is dominant?
4. Danny Granger: Good at basketball.
5. Andre Iguodala: His reputation preceds his game. By miles.
6. Tyson Chandler: Big, which USA has none of right now.
7. Brook Lopez: Ditto, despite his game not being well suited for FIBA play.
8. Stephen Curry: A prolific shooter with passing skills and range. Perfect for Coach K, perfect for FIBA.
9. Kevin Love: Seriously. No bigs. Need bigs.
10. Rudy Gay: Has looked like he actually is worth the money he earned this summer, and they need a true SF with multiple combo-forwards on roster.
But then there are these five.
11. Jeff Green: Tweener that's not a great rebounder, provides range and versatility on a roster stacked with perimeter players.
12. Rajon Rondo: Not a great mid-range shooter, seemed to dog it in the Team USA scrimmage. Coach K did say on a conference call that he and Rondo have a good relationship.
13. Russell Westbrook: Fiery, great penetration guard, but it's a roster chock full of them. Seems superfluous next to Curry, Rondo, and Billups.
14. Derrick Rose: Same deal.
15. Eric Gordon: Wait, what?
Wallace is able to play the 3 or the 4, unlike Gay, is a better rebounder than Iggy, and is a better defender than Granger. If you're shopping for a versatile player that doesn't have to score (due to the roster being stuffed with scorers), Wallace is a great combination of all of the above. Sure, he doesn't have Iguodala's inability to create his own shot or Gay's penchant for electing for 20 foot jumpers, but it's hard to see how they could have thought his effort wasn't enough.
McGee makes sense, from the perspective of needing a more well-rounded offensive attack at center. Except why then is Tyson Chandler likely to start? Terrific defender, no doubt, but his injury issues have to be a concern (even more so for the Mavs), and unless Chris Paul is lobbing him alley-oops from the other side of the planet, his offensive weaponry is largely a bust. Green was put on roster, despite being a perimeter stretch four among a sea of great three point shooters. Wouldn't McGee's energy and size been a better fit for the roster?
Mayo, however, makes up the most egregious exclusion. Apparently the plan is to throw out multiple point guard lineups and have the other spread the floor. Except that Rondo's not a tremendous three point shooter. But they did throw in Eric Gordon. Who Mayo has shown to be better at in nearly every relevant shooting and scoring category. Considering Gordon's size, defense can't be the reason. In the end, you have to wonder if this was simply a case of Mayo not being a "Coach K kind of guy" and with no real advocate on roster, fell to the side. Either that or he suffered an injury. It just seems odd to have a plan of versatile fast shooters, then leave one at home.
But then, the man did win Gold two years ago, so obviously he knows a thing or two about what he's doing. We'll see if he can pull it off without the monster-roster he had then.
The next round of cuts should come next month before the team leaves for Europe in a series of warm-up matches to the World Championships.
Posted on: July 28, 2010 11:59 am
Edited on: July 28, 2010 12:00 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Cuts are coming for Team USA today and while some are beginning to think Jerry Colangelo may now take 16 players to training camp, it looks like it's about to wrap up for at least three players.
O.J. Mayo, Tyreke Evans and Gerald Wallace are expected to be among the players cut today when Team USA reveals its training camp roster, Chris Tomasson of FanHouse reports . As mentioned, a fourth is likely to be cut, but that's a question being debated by the coaching staff right now.
Eric Gordon was thought to be on the chopping block, but the Indianapolis Star reported Gordon will make the cut. The Star also confirmed Danny Granger will make the team. Warriors World reported guard Golden State guard Stephen Curry has gotten his confirmation call to go to New York.
Depending on what Colangelo wants to do inside, JaVale McGee is the likely candidate to be the fourth cut. But another unlikely player makes more sense, according to Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm :
If there is a fourth cut — and it’s entirely possible that there won’t be, yet — it’s likely to be Rajon Rondo.
The lights of the FIBA World Championships were never going to be all that kind to Rondo, as the imperfections of his game would be in full view in international basketball’s unique hue. Defensively, he falls in line with everything Team USA wants to do, but on offense, it’s unlikely the Americans would be able to overcome having two quasi-liabilities (Rondo and say, Tyson Chandler) on the floor at the same time. Rajon may have forced his way into the top tier of point guards in the NBA, but properly executed zone defenses will smother him. Rondo could find ways to be effective, but if I’m betting on one of the team’s unimpressive shooters (Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook) to succeed in FIBA-style ball, it’s not Rondo.
Which makes sense for all the internal debating going on. Rondo would be a tough cut to make, but as Mahoney points out, a necessary one. This isn't about bringing the best players to Turkey. It's about bringing the best team . And with a stacked backcourt, Rondo's game doesn't figure to translate internationally as well as some others.
Posted on: July 26, 2010 12:28 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2010 9:33 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Cuts are expected today for Team USA and Jerry Colangelo says right now he plans on taking 15 players to training camp. Currently though, there are 19 guys on the roster, so four appear to be getting the rest of the summer off.
So, the obvious question i s: Who's likely to be in and out? And not only that, who's looking good for the final roster as well?
Kevin Durant - I'm going to write something here just because everybody else is. But we know this is KD's team and he did nothing Saturday night to make you think otherwise. Not only did he score at his typical high-efficiency clip (28 points on 10-17 shooting) but he also showed off some excellent passing skills. He's the only guy that's a confirmed lock at this point.
The Almost Locks
Derrick Rose - The competition is pretty fierce between Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Chauncey Billups. Deciding not only who makes the final cut will be tough, but who plays? Right now Rose has the upper hand because of reputation and also he's played well thus far in Vegas. But a poor week and he could easily slip down into the maybe section.
Chauncey Billups - Billups will likely make the final roster by default. He's the elder statesman of the team and with so many guys around 21 or 22, having an "OG" (Old Guy) as they're calling him, isn't a bad thing.
Rudy Gay - Other than Durant, Gay was the most impressive player Saturday. He netted 23 on 7-11 from the floor and really showcased his athleticism. Gay has an extremely good chance to not just make the final roster, but to have a big impact in Turkey as well.
Tyson Chandler - Coming in, Chandler was a total bubble guy. Now he's not only almost a guarantee, but probably the US's starting center. He's been more aggressive in the paint than anyone else and with Team USA lacking size, Chandler is a perfect piece to set up in the middle to defend the rim. Plus, with FIBA rules allowing players to knock the ball off the rim, Chandler could be an absolute force.
Rajon Rondo - The problem with Rondo is that he's one dimensional. Westbrook, Rose and Billups can conceivably slide over to the 2, but Rondo is locked into the point guard position. If David Lee doesn't get hurt and Amar'e Stoudemire were available, Rondo might be on the block. But as of today, it's looking good for Rondo.
The Looking Goods
Kevin Love - Love has a lot of value to this team because he can rebound, set screens and pass. Plus with the shortened 3-point line, he could be an absolute deadly pick-and-pop candidate. He's not a lock yet because he's hasn't performed especially well so far, but he's likely to make the at least the first cut.
Brook Lopez - Lopez is currently suffering from mono, so not only does that explain his lackluster performances, but it puts him in jeopardy of missing the games. The US needs his size badly and that's why he still has a great shot at the team.
Russell Westbrook - In the scrimmage, Westbrook was a menace. He's like a ball-hawking safety that's always looking to jump a route. He's the Ed Reed of the NBA. And because of that, he has a nice shot at the roster as a stopper to come in and frustrate someone like Ricky Rubio. Westbrook is a physical guard that beats up a lot of opponents. With the hand-checking rules, Westbrook could get downright nasty.
Stephen Curry - Team USA needs a shooter and nobody's stroke has been better. Well, other than Durant's. But Curry can play both the point and shooting guard, but his job will be to step on the floor and knock down treys.
Lamar Odom - Odom is a versatile power forward that can do it all for Team USA. Which is something it needs with the injuries and issues the team has had up front. However, Odom isn't a guarantee at this point because he admittedly came in to Vegas in poor shape and hasn't looked wonderful. But everyone knows what he's capable of so he'll likely be there.
Andre Iguodala - Iguodala may not make the final cut because of a logjam at the 2 and 3, but he's played well enough to at least get to camp. He's an above average wing defender and fits in well with Team USA's up-tempo approach.
Danny Granger - Granger has the unfavorable position of being behind Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay. However, Durant and Gay might be spending a healthy amount of time at the 4, meaning Granger could slip in and play small forward. He's shot the ball well and scored at a high clip thus far. He's competing basically against Andre Iguodala and right now, Iguodala's defense gives him a slight edge.
Gerald Wallace - Thus far, Wallace hasn't impressed much offensively. But really, he rarely does. He makes his mark by playing harder than everyone else, playing defense and just scoring tough buckets. There's a plethora of small forwards on the roster, but having an extra ace defender is never bad. Wallace may make this cut, but he'll be in a battle with Granger and Iguodala for the final 12.
Jeff Green - Green has been pretty meh so far. His 3-point shot has been inconsistent, he hasn't hit many jumpers and he hasn't rebounded exceptionally well. Yet because of the team's situation, he fits in well. He's versatile, can play multiple positions and can be a very solid offensive player. He might not see quality time, but he's worth having.
The Four on the Block
Eric Gordon - The US was looking for a shooter to stretch the zone defense international teams love to play a la Michael Redd in 2008 and basically, it was a competition between Gordon and Curry. And so far, it looks like Curry has the upper hand. Gordon has shot the ball well, but Curry's stroke is so pure that it's hard to picture it going flat under the pressure in Turkey. Gordon's is a beautiful thing, but a little more inconsistent.
Tyreke Evans - A tweaked ankle is all that's keeping Evans out. He was likely a lock for this roster, but because of a sore ankle he's missed most the practices plus the scrimmage. For shame.
JaVale McGee - McGee is a darkhorse just because he's seven feet tall and is a center. Team USA needs that sort of thing badly. But right now, he's just too unpolished to go in front of someone like Kevin Love or Brook Lopez. McGee has shown some encouraging flashes of brilliance, but he's just not ready.
O.J. Mayo - A player like Mayo is going to undeservedly get left off this roster and it's just because of the supply of backcourt players. Team USA is ultra thin up front, so Coach K and company are more likely to take someone like Gerald Wallace or Jeff Green who can play on the front line than stack another guard onto the already full backcourt.
Posted on: July 23, 2010 9:34 am
Edited on: July 23, 2010 10:07 am
Posted by Matt Moore
Posted on: June 30, 2010 1:10 pm
You realize it was just three years ago that the Big 3 in Boston were formed? At the time, we knew that their window was short. All three were older, with only a few years left. After the first championship, it looked like they were destined for more. Then when the collapse in 2009 happened due to injury, we thought the window had slammed shut, and that carried through last season when they limped into the playoffs. Then they tore the East's head off and ate the remains, and going into the Finals it looked like everything was hunky-dorey. But even losing in the final minutes of a Game 7 aren't enough when the league moves as fast as the NBA does now.
And with the events of the past 48 hours, one thing is clear. The Celtics are at a crossroads.
Paul Pierce is opting out . Ray Allen is a free agent. And Doc Rivers is still trying to decide whether to come back or not. And all three of those decisions impact each other.
If Rivers comes back, he'll want to make sure he's contending for a title, not rebuilding. And Pierce and Allen will likely want to play for the coach that took them to the Finals, not Vinny Del Negro (no offense, Vinny).
So all sides have to come together to make another run at it, and then Danny Ainge has to decide exactly how much that run is worth. This is not an easy situation. You might say this is trickier than Amar'e Stoudemire in Phoenix or Dwyane Wade in Miami. The future in Boston is highly uncertain. They were unable to get to the summit with the squad as currently assembled. Do they believe they could get there with the same group a year older? Do they need home court advantage (read: should they actually try in the regular season?)? Do they have to upgrade? Are they willing to take a paycut to upgrade?
Rivers, to his credit, and unlike some other headline making coaches, is staying quiet . He's going to not say anything, make his decision, and live with it. Pierce is opting out, but there's no indication if he's doing so to make room for the team or to get the most he can or to explore his options elsewhere. After being dangled on the trade line, you can bet Ray Allen will be taking a good look around.
This team could be dramatically different next season, and that has impacts on Rajon Rondo, who would need to become the unquestioned leader of the team. For Kendrick Perkins, who will have surgery and won't be ready by the start of the season .
And where does that leave Kevin Garnett? All the Celtics have succeeded by one motto of staying together, playing together, fighting together. But the winds of change are at the door, and as a team, they have to decide what happens next.
Like I said, things move pretty quickly in the NBA. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss... wait. That's not right .