• One Big Thing: Routine in Rio

    I’m generally a fan of the Olympics.

    Any time you can get the best people in the world at something to go head to head I’ll pretty much watch it. Chess. Cooking shows. Sometimes even the weird arm wrestling stuff they put on ESPN2 when there’s nothing else on at three in the morning.

    Point being, there’s something satisfying about watching top level performers go to work. They say that people watch sports, or most things really, to see something that they can’t get anywhere else; to watch people whose skills are so far and away above their own that it becomes a spectacle. If that’s the appeal for normal competition, think about what the Olympics should be.

    For many events, it is.

    Basketball, on the other hand, has grown droll. It’s like watching a movie that’s already been spoiled for you. There’s fun in seeing immensely talented American squads put up videogame numbers but eventually it gets a little boring. Not to mention the fact that basic human decency kicks in and you can’t help but feel bad for whatever overmatched country happens to be on the menu that day.

    Predicting the medalists is almost a sure thing. Even if you don’t get all three, your incorrect pick probably finished fourth or *gasp*…. Fifth. It’d take a major upset for the pecking order to really reshuffle.

    Add it all up, and it makes for Olympic tournaments that have been mostly devoid of drama since the Redeem Team joined forces.

    Basketball is growing around the world, and that’s obviously a good thing. It just so happens that the talent gulf is still remarkably wide. More and more people are getting into the game but we won’t see the results of that until years down the road. Like I said, that’s good. It just doesn’t do anything to pique interest for the upcoming Rio Games.

    The Rio Olympics are set to be a major debacle. Between the corruption, political unrest, displacement of the poor, widening wealth gap, unsanitary conditions and serious health concerns, there’s going to be a whole lot that goes wrong. If you thought people were picking on Sochi in 2014, buckle up.

    All that turmoil might do some good in the theater regard thanks to all kinds of player withdrawals but anything other than gold would be a massive disappointment for the US. It probably helps out USA Basketball in the end too; they now get the chance to look at a swath of players who would never appear on this stage if not for all the typical players who have chosen to sit this one out.

    Good for the point guards. Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry both deserve their spots on this team. If not for all the dropouts, neither would have made it in front of Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook or John Wall. Hell, Lowry wasn’t even on the preliminary roster: he was behind Mike Conley and Damian Lillard in the pecking order too.

    The same goes for Harrison Barnes. Probably DeMar DeRozan and maybe even Jimmy Butler too. If LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard wanted to play, they’d be there instead. There’s also a case to be made for James Harden taking one of those spots too.

    Up front the injuries to Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge almost assuredly opened up spots. DeMarcus Cousins is going to be a treat to watch and he might not have made it if not for Blake Griffin’s injury troubles or Aldridge’s desire to proceed with caution. Anthony Davis’ boneitis will give DeAndre Jordan a platform to shine as well.

    The US might have household names like Kevin Durant, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Klay Thompson in attendance but it’s a far cry from the roster that they would assemble in a perfect world.

    Again, that’s good. It’s a fresh coat of paint for a team whose dominance approaches the mundane. They’re still the favorites by a sizable margin but at least there are some nice stories floating around the roster.

    Their exhibition dismantling of both China and Argentina speaks to the fact that it’s looking like the US will only run into one, maybe two dangerous games. Exhibition results shouldn’t mean too much but it’s hard to envision either giving the US a run for their money when the games are for real.

    Short of just sending over the USA Select Team, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a fair fight barring some kind of epic collapse. That’s happened before, yes. It just hardly seems plausible this go around.

    For better or worse, Olympic basketball has an excitement problem. When one team is just too stacked, the tournament feels like a formality.

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