Morning shootaround — Aug. 23



VIDEO: GameTime: USA Basketball final roster

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Team USA thinks big | Rose looks fine | Birthday boy Kobe takes on the years

No. 1: Size matters to Team USA — While many eyes were on the status of Bulls guard Derrick Rose as Team USA moves closer to the start of the FIBA World Cup next week in Spain, the surprise coming out of Friday night’s final cuts was the inclusion of four big men on the final roster. Our John Schuhmann says that USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo made the decision to go with Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee and that will put some pressure on Kyrie Irving, as the only full-time point guard, to hold up and perform as Team USA goes for the gold and a guaranteed berth in the 2016 Olympics:

So the U.S. will have just one full-time point guard — Irving — on the roster, with (Steph) Curry starting at shooting guard and Rose unlikely to play every game. That could be some extra burden on the Cavs’ All-Star, but the USA’s best talent is still in the backcourt and the staff clearly wanted extra depth up front, with Cousins, Drummond and Plumlee backing up Davis, who could see some time at power forward.

The need for three back-up centers is a bit puzzling, especially since Davis will likely rank first or second on the team in minutes played. Two of three back-ups will certainly have limited roles.

But the U.S. may have its sights set on the frontline of Spain, which features Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. The hosts are the clear favorites to reach the gold medal game from the other side of the bracket, though they’ll have a tougher road than the Americans.

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No. 2: Rose plays, survives final cut for World Cup — The whispers and the questions were out there ever since Derrick Rose sat out Wednesday’s warmup game against the Dominican Republic due to “general soreness.” Would he be able to withstand the grueling World Cup schedule? Would he be able to be a team leader for Team USA in Spain? Those questions were answered when Rose played 13 minutes Friday night against Puerto Rico and was named to the 12-man final roster. Chris Strauss of USA Today says that Rose’s presence is welcome in the Team USA locker room:

“Derrick brings something that we don’t have as far as being able to push the ball so fast and get into the paint, and (he’s) so athletic,” USA guard James Harden said. “He made a couple cross-court passes for open threes. He looked phenomenal.”

“I feel very confident about Derrick. I think Derrick feels very confident,” (Mike) Krzyzewski said. “I thought he played great tonight. These guys want to play with him. It’s part of getting back is to be around a group of peers. These guys are his peers who want you to be really good. You’re already really good but if James Harden wants (Curry) to be really good and (Curry) wants Derrick Rose to be really good and Kyrie, it’s a different thing. That’s what we’ve seen over the years and that’s where the brotherhood develops. It’s one of the cool things about what’s happened over the past nine years (of USA Basketball).”

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No. 3: “Old man” Kobe faces his biggest challenge — Never mind just blowing out the candles on his birthday cake. As he turns 36 Saturday, Kobe Bryant has to confront the stronger winds that surround his comeback from a torn Achilles’ tendon and fractured knee. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times checks with in different members of the Lakers organization and other NBA figures for a look at what to expect from the Black Mamba when training camp opens in just over five weeks:

“Quite honestly, I think we’re going to see a better Kobe Bryant than we’ve seen in the last couple of years because he’s had time to rest and rehabilitate,” said Dr. Alan Beyer, executive director of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine.

Beyer said Bryant is not at an increased risk to reinjure the areas that sidelined him last season but acknowledged he is more susceptible to injuries associated with advanced basketball age.

Working in Bryant’s favor is an almost maniacal devotion to staying in shape and perfecting every aspect of his game. Coach Byron Scott said he had to tell Bryant to cool it when Bryant talked about wanting to play pickup games nearly two months before the start of training camp.

“I was like, ‘Slow down a little bit, Kobe,’ ” Scott said.

There could be a more awkward conversation in the days ahead. Scott said he had a target number of minutes per game in mind for Bryant — though he would not disclose it publicly and has not discussed it with his best player — intended to keep him fresh for what Scott hopes is a playoff push late in the season.

It could be a hard sell for a player notoriously stubborn about his playing time. Bryant averaged nearly 46 minutes a game in the six games preceding his Achilles’ injury in April 2013 and was on pace to play all 48 minutes against Golden State when his left foot buckled late in the fourth quarter, all in the name of helping the Lakers reach the playoffs.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Before the Timberwolves closed the deal with the Cavs to send Kevin Love to Cleveland, the Suns tried to beat the buzzer with an offer of Eric Bledsoe… Everything is different now for Heat rookie Shabazz Napier, getting used to a new league, new team, even a new basketball … It’s not your average day at the beach for Paul Pierce as he gets into shape for his first season as a Wizard.

13 Comments

  1. Zoo lander says:

    Kobe should be happy that he got away with a major crime, never did any time , and can continue to play the sport he loves while still being idolized by a bunch of amnesiacs

  2. sally says:

    He thinks he’s just going to go out there and start where he left off, it ain’t going to happen. By the time they get that team in shape (if they even have a team) he’s going to be so far over the hill, you’ll just see his little black tail slinking off into the sunset Sorry guys !!! facts are facts !

  3. Dragutin says:

    Jordan in his Washington days that’s what’s ahead,

  4. Tiye castillo says:

    Im i big kobe fan, but i dont think will lakers going to playoff this season, lack of players boozer cant play defence, only jordan hill is best defensive choice much smaller to other center. Sacre wont play hills caliber. Hayyssss

  5. Awartey Nii says:

    I wt u people shld help me.I wt 2 cme 2 de clube plz

  6. louis says:

    players are not wine, the come a point where old is just old and its been noticeable for 3 years sorry kobe. not really.

  7. "smart NBA fan" says:

    cmon people dont insult him and call him old you know its just gonna motivate him to train harder and he will come back explosive and dominate everybody in front of him. he has done it before and will do it again as previously. cmon 36 is not old man gimme a break man! 45 50 is old for NBA but 36? lots of NBA legends played well past 35+ jordan bird malone nash pippen kareem all those guys went well past 35. they didnt say hey okay im 34 now its time to retire……..LOL you guys cant write articles interesting so you insult my man Kobe. well just wait til the season starts the black mamba is coming to hunt all you fools down. Go Kobe!

  8. harriethehawk says:

    ……and they won’t make playoffs….again.

  9. dustydreamnz says:

    Agree T gas, even if Kobe improves, it won’t be enough.

  10. T gas TT ako says:

    black mamba will still be good,, but his team wont,, its just another awful season on lakerland…