Team USA senior men’s basketball is in Los Angeles practicing in advance of some international scrimmages in advance of a trip to Australia for more international scrimmages in advance of a trip to China for FIBA World Cup. Something happened on Wednesday that’s either the loudest warning bell imaginable or will make for a great origin story for a gold medal American team.

New York Times ace Marc Stein reports a squad of fringe NBA players and G League mainstays crushed the team we’re sending to China by 19 points in a scrimmage open to media on Wednesday . The Athletic’s Sam Amick followed up to report that the B-team had already beaten Team USA earlier in the practice , too! Jonathan Givony provided the B-team roster, made up of players who qualified Team USA for the World Cup when NBA stars were unavailable and coached by Jeff Van Gundy. The most notable players are Justin Anderson, John Jenkins, Chasson Randle, and Travis Wear.

So, what is it — a warning bell or an origin story? The coach is Gregg Popovich. You ought to remain resolute if you have faith in his ability to get these players — none of which are known as drama club members — on the same page and playing hard. But if it unwinds, it will unwind fast. One poorly timed loss is all it takes in these tournaments.

There’s an exhibition against Spain on Friday in Anaheim. Signs of trouble could pop up then. Stay tuned.

This won’t upset LeBron at all

Remember how the Lakers fired Luke Walton without an improved option in the wings, and they were going to hire Tyronn Lue (who won a title with LeBron James in Cleveland) except Lue refused to hire Jason Kidd as a top assistant and it all fell apart, and the Lakers ended up with Frank Vogel, who did agree to Jason Kidd as his top assistant (yikes), and then the Lakers landed Anthony Davis in a trade only to be upstaged by the F—KING CLIPPERS who signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, two players the Lakers struck out on in successive summers?

Well, Lue decided to coach for them instead, as he is reportedly close to joining Doc Rivers’ staff.

Ha. Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

This is a beautiful rivalry in the making. Give me 82 games of it.

Links

Joe Tsai has reached a deal to take over full control of the Brooklyn Nets a couple years ahead of schedule, paying $2.35 billion in total for the franchise. I wrote about how outgoing owner Mikhail Prokhorov was a failure in the NBA in every way except in the one that truly counts: profiting handsomely off of the NBA’s boom.

How concerned should Clippers fans be about Paul George’s shoulder injuries?

Alright, Ted Leonsis convinced me, I’m on board with The New, New Wizards now. Candace Buckner reports he spent all that team between general managers seeking out organization advice from people like President Barack Obama, Gregg Popovich, and others.

Howard Megdal has an interview with the WNBA’s new commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who sounds like she wants the Liberty to move from Westchester to Barclays Center, which new Liberty franchisee Joe Tsai conveniently will soon own!

Can’t keep track of everyone who has dropped out of the Men’s World Cup? Eurohoops has a convenient list. Canada is decimated too, Spain has some key losses.

I can’t tell you how refreshing it’s been to read Banner Society’s The Read Option over the past week-ish! If you like anything about college football, you should get on board.

At a Team USA event, Pop tells the media what Colin Kaepernick did was “very patriotic.” As I wrote last week, things are a little different at USA Basketball with Pop and Steve Kerr replacing Coach K.

Jonathan Abrams on what went wrong and right for Terry Rozier.

Dan Devine has some questions about the love of the Jazz.

The WNBA’s Mercury and Wings had an ugly and important brawl last weekend. Matt Ellentuck explains what it means for the future of the league.

Carmelo Anthony is working out with some members of the Nets.

Not sports and I’m obviously not through it yet, but the New York Times’ 1619 Project sure seems like a must-read.

The great Marc Spears on the 30th anniversary of the tragic death of Ricky Berry. I thought I knew the full Berry story, but there’s a lot new here.

And finally: the nine times we already know NBA fans can boo this season.

Folks, be excellent to each other. I know it’s hard sometimes, and not everyone deserves our best. But we can do it. Party on, dudes.





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