• Hey folks! I just want to take a quick minute to thank the NBA for being so interesting on a weekly basis. It’s the offseason, the season is over, the draft is over, free agency is essentially over – I should have nothing of value to talk about, and you could certainly argue that there is nothing of value here to begin with, but at least this column’s valuelessness will have relevant NBA headlines in it. For that, I thank you, basketball.

    Rio 2016

    The Olympics are great. All potential disasters in Rio aside, I cannot wait for Team USA basketball. I mean, I also cannot wait for Team USA badminton, but we’ll try to keep this on-brand. Basketball is great, the Olympics are great, thus Olympic basketball is super great.

    Yeah, The United States of America should win the gold medal for basketball in Rio, and yet, the perceived lack of parity doesn’t really bother me. It’d be very interesting to see how this insane mixture of superstar basketball players react with each other if they were up against equal competition, but hey, it’s competitive, fun basketball during a month where we usually don’t have competitive, fun basketball, and that’s all right by me.

    And just because Team USA should win, it doesn’t mean they will. They probably will, yes, but those last couple of rounds should be reasonably competitive, and as we see with March Madness every year, in a single elimination tournament, the most talented team doesn’t always win.

    Besides, this is the first Olympic tournament for a lot of these guys, and beyond that, the players that are either Olympic, or FIBA veterans are stepping into a much larger role this summer. DeMarcus Cousins is a prime example. For a player who could use more help on his public image than just about anyone in the NBA, leading, or at the very last, largely impacting a Team USA gold medal could do wonders for his reputation. Not that he really cares, of course.

    I also believe it is extremely therapeutic for Team USA players who play on perennial losers in the NBA. This year, only DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony fit into that box, but you can’t help but feel like those guys need this more than anyone. Both the Knicks and Kings have failed to surround their stars with quality talent, yet they still take most of the blame for their NBA teams’ failures.

    I’m just saying, it must feel good to play winning basketball again. To play basketball with good players, and without frustration, after years of 82 games of exactly that, has to be a much-needed breath of fresh air. They’ll have fun playing basketball again.

    For DeMarcus Cousins, he’ll have fun playing basketball for the first time, maybe ever, and I think that sort of positive momentum could, if channeled, carry over into the NBA regular season.

    And I didn’t even mention how fun some of these international Olympic teams are! And one perk of hosting the Olympics in Rio is that’ll you’ll get all sorts of funky tipoff times! Who doesn’t love 6 AM basketball? It’s going to be awesome. Did I mention that the Olympics are great? The Olympics are great. Also, I’m Greek. We get to walk first in the opening ceremony. That might have something to do with it.

    The Charlotte Mess

    I won’t pretend like I know every detail regarding the anti-LGBTQ legislature that forced Adam Silver to move the All-Star Game out of Charlotte, but I really respect his decision on a couple of different levels.

    First and foremost, organizations, or in this case, associations, rarely put social justice over the bottom line. Of course, the NBA will still make bucket loads of money wherever they decide to host the All-Star Game, but I’m sure they would prefer it if everything just went according the plan they had laid out when Charlotte was announced as the host.

    But beyond the dollars, the thing I respect the most about the NBA is that they are trying. They are trying to be socially conscience, they are trying to do the right thing, and we can argue for days over what is the right or wrong thing, I certainly can’t answer that question, but I am so proud of the NBA for putting themselves out there like this.

    While other sports leagues, and similarly large, if not larger organizations, sit on the sidelines and do nothing and say nothing about nothing, at least the NBA is telling you where they stand. You can like it, you can hate it, but at least you know.

    And I feel for NBA fans in Charlotte. I really do. They just lost out on a once in a lifetime experience over something they cannot control. It’s a bummer. I do think the NBA will return to Charlotte, and make this up to those NBA fans someday, but that doesn’t really take away the sting of having something like this ripped away from you.

    If you want more coherent thoughts on this whole mess, I’d like to direct you to Tom Ziller’s column on SB Nation. It’s not an easy topic to discuss, but I thought Tom did an excellent job looking at the NBA’s decision from all the right angles.

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Emmanuel Mudiay
    PG, Utah Jazz

    The Jazz have officially announced the signing of Emmanuel Mudiay, Jeff Green and Ed Davis.

    All three project to come off the bench this season with Green and Davis part of the frontcourt second string while it is unclear if Mudiay or Dante Exum will assume the backup point guard duties. Davis is coming off a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game in only 17.9 minutes last season while Mudiay enjoyed his best year as a pro with the Knicks but all three players can be left undrafted in standard leagues for the time being.

    Source: NBA.com

  • CJ McCollum
    SG, Trail Blazers

    C.J. McCollum has withdrawn his name from the Team USA training camp and 2019 FIBA World Cup.

    Following the trend, McCollumn is the fourth player to withdraw his name this week in order to focus on the upcoming season. The original 20 invites are now down to 16 with the final 12-man roster expected to be announced on August 17.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Frank Mason
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks have agreed on a two-way contract with Frank Mason III.

    Mason did not get much opportunity with the Kings last year and sat out all of Summer League with a sore hip. He projects to spend most of his time in the G-League and called up only if Eric Bledsoe or George Hill need to miss time. The Bucks recently signed Cameron Reynolds to a two-way deal and still have Bonzie Colson on one from last season so they are one over the limit. They still have an empty roster even after signing Kyle Korver so maybe one of their two-ways gets a standard deal instead. Otherwise, one of them will need to be waived.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Kyle Korver
    SF, Milwaukee Bucks

    Kyle Korver has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

    This is not the worst landing spot for Korver but he will strictly be a backup and entering his 17th season, he should not be relevant in standard leagues. He was able to knock down 2.1 triples per game in only 20.1 minutes last season so he may have value as a specialist in super-deep leagues however.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Chris Paul
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Chris Paul has reportedly settled on the idea of starting the season for the Thunder.

    Although Oklahoma City and Miami did not have formal discussions regarding a Chris Paul trade according to Brian Windhorst, the Thunder were willing to discuss giving back the Heat some picks but the Heat would have also wanted Paul to decline his $44 million player option in 2021-2022, which is not going to happen. The Heat want to remain flexible in the next big free agent class of 2021 and adding Paul on his current deal would take that away. Paul's usage rate will likely increase on the Thunder but keep in mind that he has missed at least 21 games in each of the three seasons before drafting him as the 9-time All-Star enters his 15th season in the league.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Eric Gordon
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Eric Gordon withdraws from Team USA training camp for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

    Gordon is the third player to withdraw this week after James Harden and Anthony Davis. The original training camp list of 20 is now down to 17 and the official 12-team roster will be announced on August 17.

    Source: Shams Charanis on Twitter

  • Luke Kornet
    PF-C, Chicago Bulls

    The Bulls have officially announced the signings of Luke Kornet and Shaquille Harrison.

    Kornet can provide threes and blocks as a backup big for the Bulls. He is currently behind Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young and Wendell Carter Jr. but may be able to carve out some minutes for deep-league owners. Harrison will be fighting for minutes with the Bulls' plethora of point guards at the moment. If he can find some minutes during the season, he can be a source of steals as a player to stream or for deep leagues.

    Source: Bulls.com

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Raptors.

    Hollis-Jefferson's deal was originally reported as a minimum contract however it is now a $2.5 million contract which comes out of the Raptors' non-taxpayer mid-level. He will likely play some minutes behind Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. He is capable of defending multiple positions and might be able to provide some deep-league value in rebounds, steals and blocks.

    Source: Jeff Siegel on Twitter

  • Mike Muscala
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Mike Muscala has signed with the Thunder on a two-year, $4.31 million deal with a player option.

    Muscala could step in with the Thunder to be their stretch four behind Danilo Gallinari or back up Steven Adams. He could potentially earn some minutes especially with Jeremi Grant no longer on the team. He averaged around 20 mpg in his last two seasons with the Lakers and Hawks, providing threes and blocks that were useful to deep-league owners.

    Source: OKC Thunder Wire

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Mike D'Antoni "would be disappointed" if Russell Westbrook didn't improve his 3-point percentage this season.

    D'Antoni added, "I think we can do that. I think that just by knowing that that's kind of how we play and him having the green light to (shoot) and not worry about it." Westbrook shot just 29.0 percent from deep last season and has been under 30.0 percent in four of his last five campaigns, so there is definite room for improvement. It's possible that Westbrook will find more catch-and-shoot looks available next to James Harden, and moving away from pull-up threes could help him improve his efficiency, but we won't be able to tell for sure until we see the duo take the court in preseason. Improving his deep shooting would definitely help, but there are serious questions about the rest of Westbrook's stat set. Rebounds and assists may not be as available in a system that isn't specifically tailored to him, and free throws and turnovers still look like problem areas. It's not a bad on-court fit but Westbrook seems unlikely to return to his former top-30 glory.

    Source: Salman Ali on Twitter