Morning shootaround — Aug. 21

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Tough choices loom for Team USA | Report: Suns willing to trade Bledsoe | Calipari backs Blatt as Cavs coach | Report: Durant weighing massive Under Armour offer

No. 1: Tough choices ahead for Team USA — A 43-point win against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night might have not helped Team USA figure out who will be on the squad once FIBA World Cup play starts in a week or so. Our John Schuhmann was on hand for last night’s exhibition in New York City and gives his outlook on who may (or may not) make the U.S. team’s final roster:

The final, 12-man roster does not need to be submitted until Aug. 29. So the U.S. may take 13 players on the plane and wait to make a final decision.

The four players who did not play in Saturday’s win over Brazil each came off the bench on Wednesday. And three of them put up numbers that could help their cause.

After missing Saturday’s game with a knee bruise, DeMarcus Cousins scored just two points, but was the game’s leading rebounder with eight boards in less than 16 minutes.

DeMar DeRozan, who was the leading scorer in the USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas, tied for the team-high with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting on Wednesday. He’s one of the players most likely to be sent home this weekend, but has flourished in these fast-paced games.

Andre Drummond also seems like a likely cut, but also seemed at home with the up-and-down style, racking up 12 points and five rebounds (four offensive) in 16 minutes.

Gordon Hayward, meanwhile, was the only player who didn’t see any action until the second half on Wednesday. He was his usual solid self, but didn’t make much of an impression with the game already well in hand.

And that, again, was the issue with Wednesday’s game. The U.S. needs players it can trust in a hostile environment against a quality opponent. Though the MSG crowd had a sizeable Dominican contingent that got loud with every early basket, this wasn’t much of a test for the U.S. team or any of its players.

So, the decisions that Krzyzewski and USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo have to make in the next few days will not be easy. Cousins, DeRozan, Drummond and Hayward appear to be in competition with Damian Lillard and Mason Plumlee for the final two roster spots. After playing strong against Brazil, Plumlee did not play Wednesday, so that Drummond could see some floor time.


VIDEO: Team USA runs away from the Dominican Republic in an NYC exhibition

***

No. 2: Report: Suns open to trading Bledsoe — Much like Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe, fellow restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns hasn’t gotten the big payday or contract offer he was hoping for this summer. The buzz of late surrounding he and the team is that Bledsoe may take a one-year qualifying offer from the Suns in exchange for a shot at unrestricted free agency next summer. However, according to Jude LaCava of FoxSports AM 910 in Arizona, the Suns may be open to dealing the point guard:

“I’ll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it’s reported,” Jude LaCava said on Tuesday, “I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe.”

“That’s the new chapter to this and I wouldn’t back off of that information. I think it’s 100% correct.”

“I think it’s safe to say ‘open for business’,” LaCava said. “The decision makers, [managing partner Robert] Sarver and [PBO Lon] Babby and hopefully Ryan McDonough, they are open to that possibility. It’s got to be right. It’s got to be the right return in what they are looking for.

“It’s to the point that if they can accommodate Bledsoe and get something they want in return, trade possibilities are very, very real and they have been discussed.”

***

No. 3: Calipari endorses Blatt as Cavs’ coach — On Monday, news came out that Kentucky coach John Calipari wasn‘t actually all that close to accepting the Cavaliers’ monstrous offseason offer to become their coach. With Calipari out of the picture, the Cavs eventually ended up hiring David Blatt to lead their new LeBron James-led crew. Calipari has nothing but compliments for Cleveland’s new leader, writes Chris Fedor of The Plain Dealer:

“David Blatt can really coach,” Calipari told Frank Isola and Malik Rose during an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “He’s a better choice than me to coach that team. I coached against him. I’m not sitting here just saying it. I coached against him in FIBA basketball. I watched him coach Russia, the guy can coach, OK? Those players, all they want is respect. If they respect you as a coach they’re going to play like crazy.”

Calipari, who had one stint as a head coach in the NBA before returning to the collegiate ranks, believes the Cavs will return to prominence.

Dan Gilbert is a great guy who wants it for the right reasons, that’s why Cleveland will win,” Calipari said. “Now you just have to have really good players. Guess what? Cleveland has really good players.”

They could be adding one more in the near future when a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves becomes official, making All-Star forward Kevin Love the newest member of Cleveland’s talented roster.

“It’s going to be scary seeing how good Kyrie (Irving) is when now you gotta defer a little bit with this; how good Love is,” Calipari said. “We haven’t even seen how good those two are going to be. And it’s kinda like when Michael (Jordan) would grab guys and all of a sudden you saw Scottie (Pippen) how good he could be or (Dennis) Rodman. … All of them, all of them. That’s what LeBron will do. It’s crazy what’s going to go on in Cleveland.”

***

No. 4: Report: Durant offered massive endorsement deal by Under Armour — Reigning MVP and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant has been a pitchman for Nike joining the NBA. Under that company, his “KD” brand of shoes have become one of the company’s most popular sellers as his on-court play has raised his marketability to newfound levels. Proof of that growth is seen in the endorsement deal Durant has received from Under Armour that could pay him between $265 million and $285 million. ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell, who broke the story, has more:

Kevin Durant’s representation Roc Nation Sports informed Nike on Wednesday that he has a deal on the table with Under Armour worth between $265 million and $285 million over 10 years, sources told ESPN.com.

The deal includes Under Armour stock and other incentives, such a community center built in his mother’s name, whose exact worth will not be known for some time.

Nike, which saw its signature business related to the Oklahoma City Thunder forward grow to roughly $175 million at retail last season, will have the right to match, which is a condition of Durant’s current contract with the brand. Durant can still choose Nike if it doesn’t match but can’t legally choose Under Armour if Nike does.

If Under Armour wins the services of Durant, it would be the largest sponsorship deal the company has ever committed to. The average of $26.5 million to $28.5 million means that Under Armour would be devoting nearly 10 percent of its current annual marketing budget on him.

Should Nike pass and Under Armour win the battle for Durant, one has to wonder how much of a role Under Armour will play in Durant’s decision where to play next. After all, in money alone, Durant would be more an employee of Under Armour than he is of the Thunder.

Durant is due $41.2 million over his next two seasons with the team; his Under Armour deal would pay him at least $10 million more over that period.

If Durant’s relationship with Nike ends, it will be interesting to see how it liquidates his latest shoe, the KD7. Colorways are planned and have been sold through to retailers through the end of the year, and sources say Nike has the contractual right to liquidate its current line.

How it even has gotten to this point for Nike is a mystery. The company usually likes locking up its top talent and teams before those players can even go elsewhere. While its deal with Manchester United also came down to a situation where it declined the match Adidas’ bid, it’s more the norm that Nike renews before the competition can get a crack. Six years into James’ seven-year, $87 million contract, Nike and LeBron James agreed to terms on the next deal.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Count Nets center Brook Lopez among the growing legion of players who have slimmed down for next season … Pistons big man Greg Monroe denies ever receiving a five-year, $60 million deal from DetroitKevin Durant says Steph Curry‘s character is difficult to use in NBA 2K … Should Derrick Rose just pull the plug on being a part of Team USA? … Is Rajon Rondo ready for a superstar turn next season? … Wizards reserve forwards Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. are gunning for a bigger role next season

 

32 Comments

  1. bartek says:

    It`s weird. I don`t understand today’s world. it`s freaky weird that one man can get so much money. Just for playing basketball. Not even sth worthly for whole humanity as a human beings.

  2. Jacob says:

    Monroe to the Thunder

  3. Matt says:

    Nike just needs the #1 to hold their position as the best there possibly is.
    With the Cleveland move it think that’s LBJ.

    I think it would be stupid to stress KD over this from Nike’s perspective. Unless anyone thinks KD will be the best in the game after the LBJ era?

    If I were Nike I would give up Durant and lock Westbrook in. That seems to make the most sense from a purely business (cost to value of the deal) perspective.

    Everyone on this post probably knows more about basketball than me tho, so it would be nice to see how you guys feel.

    KD vs LBJ. 5 or 10 years out from now, any opinions?

  4. RipCity2014 says:

    I like KD, but I don’t like the look of anything Under Armor makes. As far as stylish iconic symbols go, its hard to beat the Nike Swoosh. But hey, I’d endorse Depends adult diapers if they were going to pay me that much money.

  5. adot says:

    u people are crazy KD should get what ever deal he gets, now if you want to complain how about complain to the people who are writing him those checks

  6. e says:

    And thinking Under Armour started in the basement of a young man!! It’s crazy where hard work can lead you.

  7. BBallFan says:

    And have you noticed that all the major companies give them all the free stuff, like cars, phones, and such. They should donate the money to the needy instead of giving it people that can already afford it.

  8. rags says:

    Ever wondered why poverty will never leave this world……….
    He already got more money than all the people in some ghettos alltogether.
    And now they wanna pay him some more money……..crazy, but actually really sad.

  9. sergeo says:

    @matt
    the comparison between nba players and workers in india, africa or somewhere else is not ok to my opinion. Players in the nba earn only less than 40% of the money that the nba generates. And not all of them are getting such high pay checks. The FIBA is making a lot of money on the behalf of those players too, so it is normal that they get well paid.

    The workers or children in bangladesh are paid poorly and will be continued to be exploited as long as they don t fight against that exploitation. If they wait for europeans and americans to get there and change their working conditions, then you can wait for a long time :-)

  10. JOE BLACK says:

    @matt I AGREE!

  11. matt says:

    thats getting ridiculous what they are paying people who already are millioners…..on the other side workers in indonesia or somewhere else in asia dont get enough to feed their families….something is VERY wrong with this world!

  12. dustydreamnz says:

    I can’t see the Cavaliers winning the title this year. Going to take them atleast a year to get combinations gelling.

  13. kobefanjay says:

    stay with Nike…signing with under armour will take away some sort of edge from durant…

  14. harriethehawk says:

    I’m tired of waiting. When are the USA coaches gonna make their cuts!

  15. Will says:

    Nike ain’t paying jack!

  16. Spurs 21 20 9 says:

    KD is about to make some bank with either of those two deals. He could probably play anywhere he wants after signing those huge contracts.

  17. PacersDynasty says:

    Paul George is my boyfriend.

  18. OKC says:

    I like Bledsoe a lot, but he has not handled his restricted free agency well at all. How are you going to get mad and speak out when a team uses restricted free agency to their advantage like any team should or would? Seems really childish to get upset with the suns because they are being smart. Just play it like Monroe, stay quite and if no one tries to pry you free from restricted free agency take a qualifying offer. Make sure you have a great contract year then reap the benefits as a free agent. If Bledsoe can deliver a fully healthy season he may be able to get that max contract he wants as a good starting PG and lock down defender.

    • aa says:

      He should fire Rich Paul, whom let him to believe that he is a max player, bledsoe have been a starter for an half nba season. its just stupid on his part not accepting 48 million.

  19. johnnyhoops1980 says:

    Bledsoe had a nice season scoring wise, but he’s not your proto-typical PG. Not sure he’s worth the amount of money he wants, plus the Suns just inked Isaiah Thomas, who ranks way higher than Bledsoe on the PG Index: http://straighthoops.com/the_pg_index_revised.html

    • Grand cru says:

      That index is broken. You use all these per game stats without having minutes played a part of the equation.

      • missing the point says:

        Bledsoe is a very good guard that has a delusion of grandeur level view of himself being some PG version of the second coming. Now, because of his chest beating, he’s lost the respect of likely many teams that formerly had him on their radars. The point being: there are better PG’s out there, that don’t make the salary demands this bozo is making now.

  20. KJS says:

    David Blatt is actually a US-born and have an Israeli citizenship. how did you decide he was Russian? he did coach that team, but never got citizenship. just sayin…

  21. Report: Suns open to trading Bledsoe

    Did you read that Larry Brird? Any chance you could sign him for 1 year $5 million.

    It’s crazy what’s going to go on in Cleveland…… Hmmm lot’s of noise coming out from Ohio but remember: pride comes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Just take it easy Cavs, chill chill.

  22. Romeo Aguirre says:

    Eric and Greg to the lakers ;)