• C. J. Miles has signed with the Cavaliers. Makes sense. The Cavs have a ton of cap room and are thin at both wing spots.
• Ryan DeGama of CelticsHub on how Boston’s revitalized bench might help the Celtics reverse the team’s long-term decline in scoring efficiency – and have everyone a bit fresher for the playoffs. Boston’s last two Game 7 losses — in the 2010 Finals and last year’s conference finals — have been frighteningly similar symbols of the dual problems plaguing this team since 2008-09: a lack of scoring and depth.
• A fun Q-and-A with Kyrie Irving, who talks about his love of musicals (and performing in them!), feeling at home in Cleveland and lots of other stuff.
• Dan Devine of Yahoo! has been analyzing every second of Olympic basketball, which (I can attest) is damn near impossible to do if you also have to blog about other basketball-related things at the same time. But Devine has done it, and he is churning out really good stuff every hoops day — stuff like this bit on Carmelo Anthony’s sensational performance in Team USA’s 83-point win over Nigeria:
The best player on Team USA is LeBron James, and the second best player on Team USA is Kevin Durant, and if you tried to stretch that question into a triple, you’d have quite a variety of hands sliding into third. But until the day I drop, you will have a hard time convincing me that, on Aug. 2, 2012, there was anyone else in the world more completely doing what he or she was meant to do than Carmelo Anthony. In front of Nigeria, in front of his teammates, in front the world, a man of immense gifts just was. It was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. I hope to see it again soon.
Click that link for much more on Australia, Manu Ginobili’s brilliance and Joel Freeland’s future in the NBA.
• For John Canzano of the Oregonian, that win over Nigeria was so one-sided as to sway him to the side of those who would like pros over 23 years old banned from Olympics basketball:
A man with an all-access pass could walk all around the Olympic Park on a given day here and find warming, shining, inspiring examples of what the Olympics are about. This 17-day festival features a line of rich, authentic, culminating moments in the athlete’s lives. I’m not sure exactly what the Olympic spirit is — by definition, anyway — but I know what it is not.
It’s not USA 156, Nigeria 73 in a men’s pool-play basketball game on Thursday night. It’s not an Olympics record 29 three-point baskets. It’s not a defiant and arrogant USA coach Mike Krzyzewski scoffing at the notion that the margin of victory was unsportsmanlike with, “I take offense to this question because there’s no way in the world that our program in the United States sets out to humiliate anyone.” And then, speaking for Nigerian coach Ayodele Bakare saying, “Coach would think it humiliating if we didn’t play hard.”
The Olympic spirit is none of these things. And the minute I saw the USA-Nigeria debacle unfolding, I wished it all gone from this Olympics.
I would disagree, for several reasons. For one, it’s not as if the U.S. just destroys everyone; Spain gave Team USA a run in the gold medal game in 2008, and Argentina took home the gold in 2004. With due respect to Nigeria, which played its way in with a stirring performance in a qualifying tournament, their presence here as an overmatched opponent has a lot to do with a qualification system that guarantees spots for the host nation (which has proved itself deserving) and teams from continents (Asia, Africa, and the non-continent “Oceania”) not exactly teeming with basketball powerhouses. Several quality teams — Serbia, Greece, Turkey, others — aren’t here, and some of those couldn’t even snag one of the precious Europe spots in the qualifying tournament. If FIBA and the Olympics wanted to minimize 83-point losses, they could start by tweaking the qualifying process. (I argued for this last year).
And finally: Disparities are going to be present in all international competitions open to anyone (or any team) who meets national qualification standards. There are swimmers and track athletes we won’t see on television who are losing by giant distances every day.
• Tom Ziller, writing at SB Nation, says the owners are simply being “greedy” in trying to create a separate World Cup, co-owned/organized by the NBA, for the best pros over 23. Here’s Ziller on the idea, put forth by some backing the World Cup as an Olympics replacement, that NBA players on non-U.S. national teams now risk receiving substandard medical care — a problem that would, the theory goes, vanish in an NBA-administered World Cup:
There has also been some suggestion that medical concerns — particularly about inconsistent international standards for when players shouldn’t play with an injury — are playing a role in the push for under-23. The idea is that, working directly with FIBA, the NBA can ensure there is a consistency in treatment and precaution among the 50 or so teams in play for top competition. It would ensure that Jan Vesely of the Czech team, Al-Farouq Aminu of the Nigerian team and Kobe would all get the same level of treatment when playing internationally. This is a great idea … and there’s absolutely no reason the NBA couldn’t do it right now. FIBA runs the Olympic basketball tournament for the most part. It determines who gets invited. It contracts the referees, administers the first level of discipline and is essentially responsible for ensuring it goes off without a hitch. If the NBA was concerned about medical standards in international play, it would already be working with FIBA to protect its players.
Is that impossible with the International Olympic Committee in the picture? If so, why on Earth are we going to continue to subject our youngest stars, American and otherwise, to the tournament? Is it OK because they have $20 million contracts, not $100 million deals? Nothing about the under-23 idea actually fixes this problem of inconsistent medical care. It’s a red herring.
The full piece is well worth your time.
• Mike Krzyzewski was upset with allegations that the U.S. ran up the score against Nigeria.
• Harvey Araton of The New York Times on the legacy and life of Neil Reed, the former Indiana University point guard who passed away suddenly this week.
• And more perspective on the reaction (and inaction) in response to Reed’s accusations that Bobby Knight choked him.
• A Portland perspective on how Brandon Roy might fit alongside a ball-dominant point guard (Ricky Rubio) in Minnesota after sometimes chafing at doing so with the Blazers.
• Pat Riley confirms what we all saw in the last part of the playoffs: Miami is a small-ball team now.
• In a radio interview, Ronnie Brewer says New York head coach Mike Woodson has told him he will be a part of smaller lineups in which Carmelo Anthony plays power forward. This is good news, New York fans.
• Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com crunches the the numbers to compare the Knicks and Nets.
• Some drama in the sports agency world, as IMG Worldwide is likely for sale.
• Paul Pierce discusses the knee injury that hampered him late in the playoffs. Much more in this video interview at the official Celtics page.