Morning shootaround — Aug. 16

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Paul George starts long road back | Did Durant “withdraw” or “quit?” | Searching for USA’s sixth man | Wait till it’s your home, not Ray Allen’s

No. 1: Paul George starts long road back — Two weeks removed from the gruesome (sorry if we’re overusing that word, but it’s the best adjective available) injury that shut down Paul George‘s Team USA experience, wiped out his plans for the 2014-15 NBA season and had many onlookers worried about his pro career, the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star wing player met with media in Indianapolis on Friday. Through them, he spoke to the fans – not just to those who root for the Pacers and him but for the league and for dazzling young athletes of any kind who might endure such a cataclysmic mishap. And the 24-year-old put a lot of minds at ease with his optimism, as chronicled by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star:

“A bump in the road,” he called it at one point. “I’ll be able to battle through this. There will be a story I can tell, a testimony I will have.”

And yes, he has seen the video.

“I watched it one time,” George said, “and that’ll be the last time.”

At what was largely a feel-good gathering at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, George even talked about playing again before the end of the coming season. That might have been emotions running ahead of the prognosis, of course, and no one’s holding him to it:

What remains, of course, is the cold reality: A metal rod was planted in George’s right leg, pins screwed in his knee and ankle to hold it in place. His coming season is all but lost. A rigorous road of rehabilitation awaits.

“I’m very aware of not being able to play this year; that’s a huge possibility,” George said. “[But] if I have the opportunity, I’d love to make a comeback.”

He firmly resisted doling out any blame — not to USA Basketball, not to the stanchion at the Thomas & Mack Center he fell on that originally appeared to be considerably closer to the court than one at a typical NBA game. This was nothing more than a freak accident, George said.

“It sucks I was on the bad side of it, but USA Basketball doesn’t deserve any criticism because of this,” he said, noting several times that after a successful recovery, he would still love to suit up for Team USA in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

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No. 2: Did Durant “withdraw” or “quit?” — Words matter, and there currently is a little war of them going on as far as Kevin Durant‘s decision to end his participation with Team USA this summer in its pursuit of the 2014 FIBA World Cup title. Durant notified USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo on Aug. 7 that he felt too mentally and physically drained from Oklahoma City’s long 2013-14 season and his other activities to continue. Unfortunately, his decision came after Team USA laid its X’s & O’s foundation for this summer’s tournament in a week of workouts and walk-throughs in Las Vegas. That – and what some perceive as outside business interests creating a tail-wags-dog situation for Durant – has Chris Sheridan favoring the latter word on his SheridanHoops.com Web site (click through to Sheridan’s site for coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s intriguing assessment of Durant’s work while in the USA camp):

Yes, Durant quit the team.

It is semantics, but “withdrew” is reserved for players who told the federation before training camp began that they would not be attending. If you attended camp in Las Vegas, and if you called coach Mike Krzyzewski to ask for advice on how to be a “leader” when camp resumed in Chicago, and then you blindside Coach K and every other member of the national team, you have “quit.”

What Kevin Durant did was shameful.

And what I have discovered in talking to members of the U.S. federation over the past two days is this: Durant and his agency, Roc Nation, are more interested in cashing in on his MVP award and his expiring Nike deal than they are in having Durant keep his word to the people who were with him in 2010 in Turkey at the World Championship and in 2012 in London at the Olympics.

Team director Jerry Colangelo said he could see signs in Las Vegas that Durant was distracted. Krzyzewski reiterated Friday that Durant’s actions blindsided everyone.

“Looking back, if you could turn back time. you would like for him to make that decision before Vegas. We might have invited somebody different,” Krzyzewski said. “But saying that, that’s in the past, we’re forward, and it puts us a little behind, just like the injuries.”

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No. 3: Searching for USA’s sixth manCarmelo Anthony never got better reviews than when he voluntarily and affably accepted a reserve role for the 2012 USA squad that won gold at the 2012 London Olympics. The Knicks’ scoring star proved invaluable with his production, points and otherwise, off the bench. He showed, to some, how he might play if he had better talent around him than the rosters in Denver and New York have offered. Anyway, it’s time for some other top-tier talent on a roster full of stars to fill Melo’s sneakers as Team USA’s sixth man and spark plug. Our Steve Aschburner looked at possible candidates as Krzyzewski’s rotations begin to take shape now:

“I really think there are a lot of guys who would be willing to do it,” [Kyle] Korver said. “I don’t think it’s a hard thing. It’s one thing for a guy to be the sixth man on his NBA team, but there have been a bunch of guys [to do that for Team USA]. Every time someone’s done it, it seems that person has gotten a lot of praise and a lot of credit.”

Having a green light to shoot, at the urging of the coaches, at a rate that probably would lead the stellar squad in attempts-per-minute? Yeah, someone might raise his hand for that.
“We’ve got so many guys who can come in and contribute in any aspect of the game,” said [James] Harden, who might pick up some of Durant’s shots in Team USA’s reworked offense. “From Klay Thompson to Kyle Korver to Damian Lillard, so many guys who can be effective at what they do.”

Harden was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2012 before getting traded to Houston and emerging as an All-Star the past two seasons. He knows a little about managing one’s ego from the bench.

“It’s all about your mindset,” he said Friday. “If you come in with the mindset that you’re going to impact the game, that as soon as you step out there you’re going to make your presence felt, then you’ll be more effective and your team will be better off. We won’t have that problem with this team – I’m sure guys will be ready and super-prepared at all times.”

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No. 4:  Wait till it’s your home, not Ray Allen’s — The initial reaction of local authorities struck some of us as a tad too casual after the intrusion into longtime NBA sharpshooter Ray Allen‘s luxury home in Coral Gables, Fla. Overnight Wednesday/Thursday, seven males in their late teens entered Allen’s home while his wife and children slept (Allen was not home), waking and alarming Shannon Allen. After she shouted out, the intruders allegedly exited without incident and, when rounded up by police, were not charged with a crime. And that seemed disproportionately light to Allen and his family, who have sought legal representation in the matter and released a statement, carried by the Miami Herald, that included this harrowing description of a scene to which no one should wake:

“She heard male voices loudly discussing our personal property and sat up in a state of alarm to find at least five people inside our bedroom with large flashlights. She was immediately fearful for the safety of her own life, but more importantly the lives of our young children. When she screamed at them, the intruders quickly fled the scene and laughter was heard as they made their way out of our bedroom, down the stairs and out of our house.

“As these individuals were fleeing our house, Shannon immediately called security and the police for help. Shannon and I believe that a number of the public statements made through media outlets have mischaracterized certain important facts and what we believe to be the seriousness of this potentially devastating invasion upon our lives, home and family.

“The suggestion that anyone can unlawfully enter into someone’s locked home and then into an occupied bedroom in the middle of the night without consequences is unsettling…”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: DeMarcus Cousins‘ sore knee won’t let him play for Team USA against Brazil, but he’s on his way back Andre Drummond would love to pounce on the opportunity Cousins’ layoff opens for a big man. … Itinerary change for Team USA: Taking no chances with Ebola in Senegal. … Greg Oden, who once might have been a Team USA big man, gets a trial date instead.

19 Comments

  1. aura says:

    if KD really want to rest he should have declined joining the team in the very start.. why quit after PG got injured and when KD is on the final list of Team USA? what i think is that KD got scared on what he saw on PG injury. and maybe he still picture the scene on his mind. that happens when you get shock on what you see unexpectedly especially if its a horrible accident.

  2. harriethehawk says:

    So what, he quit. Kevin Durant can do whatever he wants. He’s the NBA MVP and he can do whatever he wants for a whole year. I believe he was telling the truth but I also believe he was advised to drop out. Here’s the deal. He’s the face of OKC THUNDER. He wants to win a championship next year. If he gets hurt, it could also hurt his free agency process. Leave the guy alone. He may have cried during his MVP speech, but nobody knows the shoes he walks in. I respect him and he is the best player in the whole wide world. Stop drinking haterade, it’s unattractive!

  3. Whom says:

    Only Durant knows what’s in Durants head, and the ones closest to knowing what’s in his head are those advising him (take that as you will). I do know one thing however: this is the beginning of a 1+ year melodrama that could make or break his legacy in the eyes of many fans, leading up to his potential free agency and potential departure from OKC. It won’t only be his decision that defines him, it’ll be how he handles the situation in its entirety. I’m still a KD fan, but he did not handle this situation well no matter his intentions. FIBA may be just be FIBA, but he set them back enoughwith his late announcement that they were truly shocked and needed to scramble to replace him and create a new game plan.

  4. kobeballhog2 says:

    Greatest quitter ever. Leaving your fellow team usa high and dry. At least the remaining team usa players have the courage the patriotism the dedication to see this through and most importantly fighting for paul george cause. Deymnn even paul george said he still and will still play for team usa. These guys are the real mvps. Not that ultimate quitter durant. You stand by your fellow soldiers. Durant is like if theres a war i leave all ya behind. Mental and physical drain hogwash. Why would he even join the training yet he knows he will quit in the middle of it.

  5. lbj says:

    It’s real easy for all these casual fans to buy into “USA Basketball”, but for years this has been a hot topic and the debate has two sides. If you want to play charity basketball to increase your visibility within the USA, that’s great, but I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t work for free so someone else can make money under the guise of “patriotism” and that’s not even fair to KD because he does plenty of charity games over to summer in small gyms and outdoor courts for communities like the one he grew up in and does a tremendous amount of charity outside of basketball. Just because this team is “patriotic” KD can’t decide to act in his best interest when the only thing it hurts is what? Your national pride? Coach K’s feelings? There is very little to gain from an NBA players point of view, other than some nationalistic pride that some rich people will make even more money off of. Pride is a vice not a virtue.

  6. OKC says:

    This is FIBA we are talking about… FIBA… not the olympics… FIBA…

    Or at least that’s what Allen Iverson would have to say about it.

    • Carlo says:

      So what?

      And, BTW, “FIBA” stands for Int’l B’ball Federation.

      So, this is not “FIBA”. It’s the World Championship.

  7. Chicken Out says:

    He quit! He chicken out, he will never be a champ. NEVER!

  8. Williams Jason says:

    KeChoke DuReff

  9. D-Fence says:

    Haha those LeBron haters… Imagine what it would be if he quitted like Durant, he would be world’s biggest villian of all time… It’s funny because this Durant would rather chase his money for his MVP title than playing in USA Basketball and everybody forgets that you know why? Because this FAKE @$$ boy cried like baby during his speech and everybody feels for him… Man this world is strange, you people prefer to see weak boys rather than strong man and all you do is root for weak boys and criticize strong man… you know why? Because all of you are those weak boys who rather cry like a baby than live a life with pride and confidence.
    To sum up you know why you hate LeBron? Because he is so strong, so good and so resistant to all the hate that comes against him that you can’t even imagine how could it be possible because you are so weak so you just hate it.

  10. Rah says:

    Your talking about the Lebron came off of a title run in year one, a title and won Olympic Gold won another title and had another title run after that? Sirsparhawk know what you’re talking about before you make your statement. I’m not a Lebron fan but he’s played more basketball in the last 4 years than any other player in the league.

  11. sirsparhawk says:

    Lol calling KD shameful because he didnt want to work his body so much before the season. Not like he doesnt have to carry his team every night to a high degree. Not like he doesnt work hard enough in his own training camp, why cry about KD when other stars are out of the mix as well. Btw is Leflop playing?

    • theking0522 says:

      Stop whining about Lebron. Lebron won a NBA title and then a gold medal. No rest for him….Crybaby Durant is complaining he is too tired (the flopper didn’t even make it to the finals). And Durant doesn’t have to carry that team. All I saw was Westbrook taking the big shots on the playoffs while Durant was on the floor (flopping and asking for a foul).

      • sirsparhawk says:

        Im not whining about Leflop, Idc about Leflop, you call KD a flopper yet there is a thing called Lebroning where kids walk into someone and fall down. Clearly you didnt watch the playoffs, KD hit several game winners, Westbrook didnt do jack.

    • dcawston says:

      Lebron didnt make himself availible and didn’t attend a week’s worth of training. “Shamful” is a bit harsh but Durrant’s withdrawl/quitting was less than honorable at that stage.

      • sirsparhawk says:

        How so, guy has to work insanely hard as it is. He isnt obligated to play for america if he doesnt want to. Not to mention risking injury.