NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Griffin has back fracture — When Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin withdrew from Team USA last week, he said he was doing so to focus on getting ready for next season in L.A. While that is likely true, another reason he left the team, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne, is because of a small fracture he suffered to his back:
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin withdrew last week from Team USA training camp for the FIBA World Cup because he was advised by doctors to give a small fracture in his back more time to heal before the start of the next NBA season, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.
Griffin is expected to make a full recovery from the injury, which sources say was suffered during the playoffs. However, doctors advised him to sit out international competition this summer for precautionary reasons.
Griffin has continued to work out this summer in Los Angeles with teammate DeAndre Jordan and former Laker and Clipper Sasha Vujacic.
Both Griffin and Minnesota forward Kevin Love withdrew from the training camp last week, which left Team USA thin in the front court and prompted the late addition of Atlanta’s Paul Millsap to the camp.
No. 2: Rose happy with Bulls’ offseason additions — Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is one of 31 players at USA Basketball training camp, but he was easily the biggest target of attention as camp opened yesterday. He impressed with some dunks and overall solid movement (as our John Schuhmann notes), but how did Rose feel about Chicago’s offseason? According to The Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson, Rose is happy that Pau Gasol and opened up on his sales pitch to Carmelo Anthony:
Despite not feeling comfortable in the role, Derrick Rose participated in the Bulls’ free-agency pitches to Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol.
“I think we have a contender,” Rose said. “They were saying something about putting us on top of the East. We know as a team what we’re trying to do. We all have one goal. Individually, all summer everybody worked on their games. Everybody is trying to compete for that title next year.”
Many league observers thought Anthony represented the crucial missing piece toward that end. And Rose, who spent roughly 20 minutes talking to Anthony at the United Center during his Chicago visit, didn’t necessarily disagree.
“I mean, who wouldn’t be disappointed?” Rose said, laughing, when asked if he was disappointed Anthony stayed with the Knicks. “But at the same time, you can’t be mad at the decision he made. … You’ve got your family to think about. You’ve got money to think about.
“Not to say you should think about money. But when you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars, you can’t just put that behind you. So I’m not mad with the decision that he made, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Rose said his message to Anthony was simple: Come to Chicago, and the game would be easy for both of them.
“I don’t know how easy, but of course it would be easy,” Rose said. “And just plain and simple that we wanted him to come. He decided to go somewhere else, but it’s no hard feelings. … He’s a grown man.”
No. 3: Report: Spurs deny Ginobili’s World Cup bid — Argentina has had a pretty good sports year, what with the country making it to the World Cup final and, about a month earlier, seeing native son Manu Ginobili help lead the San Antonio Spurs to the 2014 NBA title. With the FIBA World Cup roughly a month or so away, Argentinians apparently won’t get to watch Ginobili on that international stage, writes Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News:
The Spurs have sent Manu Ginobili a letter denying him permission to participate in the FIBA Basketball World Cup later this summer, Express-News columnist Buck Harvey reported on Monday.
Spurs general manager R.C. Buford cited an eight-week recovery span for the stress fracture in Ginobili’s lower right fibula, which was discovered during exit physicals after the team crushed Miami in the Finals to clinch their fifth championship. With the Spurs playing their last game on June 15, that would have come perilously close to the start of the World Cup, which runs from Aug. 30 through Sept 14 in Spain.
Ginobili, who turned 37 on Monday, was re-examined in Argentina last week, with national team doctor Diego Grippo noting improvement but describing the results as “inconclusive.”
It promises to be a bitter pill to swallow for Ginobili. He has been a member of Argentina’s senior team since 1998, four years before he joined the Spurs as a 25-year-old rookie in 2002.
No. 4: Waiters wants to be Cavs’ starting shooting guard — Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers went 10-14 whenever Dion Waiters was in the starting lineup. Waiters saw time at either the small forward or shooting guard spot, but with LeBron James back on the squad, small forward minutes are spoken for. Waiters recently said on Twitter that he sees himself — and not No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins — as the favorite to garner the starting two-guard spot and didn’t back off that stance on Monday, writes Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com:
On Monday, following Day 1 of TEAM USA training camp, when CSNNW.com followed up on the matter, Waiters didn’t back down from his stance to be inserted into the starting lineup come next season.
“I want to start and I believe that I should at the two,” Waiters told CSNNW.com.
During Summer League, Wiggins, if retained, says he views himself as a shooting guard rather than a three, which is a smart thing to say considering the position that new guy plays. So, if the roster currently constructed is the roster three months from now, Wiggins and Waiters will be battling it out.
Never one to mince words, Waiters elaborated on why he felt it was necessary to let his feelings become known via Twitter.
“I just say how I feel,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever is best for the team, of course, but at the end of the day, I’m a man and I’m confident in myself. I’ve always been a guy that gives it right to you. I’ve never been a guy that plays that political stuff. I was brought up that way. I’m straightforward. I give my honest opinion. I’m not going to sit here and hide. They asked a question and I tell you.”
This isn’t to be taken the wrong way. Waiters isn’t demanding to be a starter. He believes he’s the right person for the job. There’s a difference, there. Nothing malicious intended and his new head coach doesn’t see anything wrong, either.
“I think that Dion is a guy that believes in his abilities and really, really wants to be a great player at the highest level,” Cavaliers head coach David Blatt said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s a positive that he desires to be an elite guy and really wants to win at the same time. That’s what’s important to me.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Metta World Peace tells Larry King that he’s not retired … Utah’s new $63 million man, Gordon Hayward, knows there’s pressure on him to get the Jazz winning again … Rookies Dante Exum and Cameron Bairstow have been added to the Australian national team roster … Is Kyrie Irving looking forward to playing with LeBron James? You could say that … Dwyane Wade used to look forward to squaring off with Kobe Bryant. Now he’s looking forward to squaring off with LeBron James … The firing of Jim O’Brien during Paul George‘s rookie season made a big impression on the Pacers superstar … Damian Lillard faces an uphill climb in making the Team USA roster