Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers left with countless questions after Love withdraws from Olympics

Sports 16 July, 2021 - 04:11pm 6 views

Who is replacing Bradley Beal on Team USA?

2020 Olympics: JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson replace Bradley Beal and Kevin Love on the USA Basketball men's national team. The team has made some last second replacements befoe heading off to Tokyo. Bullets Forever2020 Olympics: McGee, Johnson replace Beal, Love on USA MBB team

Who is replacing Beal in the Olympics?

Veteran center JaVale McGee and Spurs guard Keldon Johnson will be added to the 12-man Olympics roster, a person with knowledge of the details said Friday. Los Angeles TimesMcGee and Johnson to replace Love and Beal on U.S. team

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Kevin Love, the Cleveland Cavaliers, USA Basketball and Gregg Popovich, the coach who will be leading the National Team into the Tokyo Olympics in a few weeks, were all hoping for the same thing: Love would use his summer with Team USA as a much-needed reboot.

For his mind. His health. His game. His morale. His perceived value.

After a frustrating three-year stretch dotted not only with injuries but also losses, public outbursts, conflicts with management, and trade rumors, this was his first opportunity to answer critics who questioned his selection on the star-studded 12-man Olympic roster and prove he could still be an asset. It was a chance to play in meaningful games for the first time in years, to be back in a winning environment surrounded by some of the league’s best players as opposed to Cleveland’s inexperienced youngsters that often sparked his annoyance.

In what Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman called a “significant offseason” for Love -- who is owed $60 million over the next two years and has missed 116 of a possible 219 games since inking that massive deal -- it was the best way for the embattled veteran to prepare for Year 14.

Instead, Love withdrew from Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Games, leaving the Americans with a roster spot to fill and the Cavaliers -- and other NBA executives -- with countless questions.

“I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA, but you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet,” Love said in a statement shared by ESPN -- the first outlet to report Love’s decision.

According to a source, this is not a new injury. Love is still feeling the effects of a lingering right calf strain that limited him to just 25 games during the 2020-21 season, where he averaged 12.2 points per game, lowest since his rookie season, to go with 7.4 rebounds.

Love spoke with confidence about his health on July 6, the first day of Team USA training camp. But once the exertion picked up, Love wasn’t feeling right and concluded that he hasn’t yet gotten over the hump, with no amount of rehab or treatment available to get him to that point before the Olympics.

Cavaliers trainer Steve Spiro is one of a handful of team representatives in Las Vegas, sources say. He was there to monitor Love, making sure he was physically ready to chase a gold medal, and Darius Garland, Cleveland’s promising young point guard who was promoted to the National Team for scrimmages but won’t be invited to the Olympics.

During 10 days of preparation -- a combination of practices, scrimmages, and exhibition games -- it became painfully obvious Love wouldn’t be able to help the Americans. He received limited action in two of the three tune-ups. His play was worrisome, struggling at both ends of the floor and looking old and slow, unable to create space to get clean looks at the hoop while finishing with more fouls than points. He looked completely out of place -- the least effective player on the team.

Forget redemption. Forget any chatter about possibly boosting his nonexistent trade value. Forget using the experience as a springboard to a late-career renaissance. That’s not happening. Some even wondered whether Love was harming his already-wobbly reputation.

Love initially injured his calf in the Cavs’ preseason opener on Dec. 12, 2020. He re-aggravated it for the first time about two weeks later in the third regular season game versus Philadelphia, causing him to miss the next two months. Love returned following the All-Star break, only to limp off the court once again, forcing another two-week absence. Despite that, he played 21 of the final 24 games, believing he was in a good place going into the offseason.

Apparently not. It’s been more than seven months and he’s still not right. Now come even more questions, many without an answer.

Where do the Cavs and Love go from here? What’s the path for getting him healthy again? Does one even exist? Should he be in their plans this coming season or would it be better for both to somehow separate? Can the Cavs rely on him anymore? Will he be ready for Cavs training camp? What can his body tolerate? How many minutes can he handle at this stage of his career? Will he need load management rest nights?

Is the pain in his calf truly preventing him from feeling like himself or is that simply a logical explanation for the harsh reality he faces after 13 rigorous NBA seasons? That his broken-down body may never let him be the same again.

The Cavs will sit down with him at some point soon, when he returns from Vegas, to have those conversations. At this point, sources say, retirement has not been discussed or considered. Love is still enthusiastic about the upcoming season. He still loves the game. But as he enters season 14, even Love admits it’s time to reset expectations.

“I think I understand that probably being that number one guy, playing 35 minutes and getting 20 touches a game, is probably in my rear view,” Love said recently. “I don’t try to put a ceiling or limit on myself at all. So long as I’m feeling good, I know that I’m going to play good. I’m going to chase the game like I always have. But I do believe that if it’s asked for me to have to pivot in my career for a team to win, I’m more than I’m willing to do that.”

USA Basketball was supposed to be the perfect setting for him to begin a turnaround. Instead, it’s simply more of the familiar frustrations and uncertainty.

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Why is the U.S. men’s basketball team struggling? It’s less talented than its predecessors.

The Washington Post 17 July, 2021 - 02:01am

Let’s start with the obvious. This year’s men’s basketball team is nowhere near as good as the inaugural Dream Team roster that featured 11 future Hall of Famers and Christian Laettner. But the 2021 team is also not as good as the teams that followed them, either.

For example, take the top player on each U.S. men’s basketball team, defined here as the player with the highest box score plus-minus (BPM) heading into the Summer Games. This metric uses a player’s box score information, position and the team’s overall performance to estimate the player’s contribution in points above league average per 100 possessions played. League average is defined as 0.0, meaning 0 points above average or below average. The higher the number, the greater the impact that player had in the league. In some instances, like with Magic Johnson in 1992 and the players with no NBA experience, no data was available for the season preceding the Olympics. For those players, the season immediately following the Olympics was used. It’s not perfect, but you’ll see it will pass the sniff test.

Michael Jordan led the 1992 team with a 9.7 BPM heading into the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. That would remain the top figure on an Olympic team until LeBron James agreed to suit up for the U.S. in 2008. His BPM entering that Olympics (10.8) and the next Olympics four years later (10.9) remain the highest for any player representing the U.S. This year, Kevin Durant is numerically the best player on the squad, having earned a 6.8 BPM over 35 games in 2020-21. Only Gary Payton would lead an Olympic roster with a lower BPM (6.5 in 2000) over the past eight Summer Games.

The worst player on this roster, statistically, is Devin Booker, who earned a BPM of minus-0.1 during the regular season. That may sound low, but it’s relatively average compared to the lowest-rated player on each of the seven prior men’s Olympic basketball teams. Laettner, Harrison Barnes, Emeka Okafor and Vin Baker all entered the international tournament with a lower BPM than Booker.

The roster as a whole is projected to be 15.1 net points per 100 possessions better than an average NBA squad, which would place it seventh out of the eight rosters since the original Dream Team took the court in 1992. Only the 2004 team is lower. That team lost its opening game to Puerto Rico by 19 points, ending Team USA’s 24-game Olympic winning streak since 1992, and ultimately settled for the bronze medal.

The talent level of competing teams isn’t know, however, there will be NBA talent on other rosters. Luka Doncic (6.7 BPM, 11th highest of 2020-21) will suit up for Slovenia. Rudy Gobert (4.5 BPM, 22nd) and Nicolas Batum (1.4 BPM, 86th) will lead three other NBA players on France. And Joe Ingles (3.4 BPM, 37th) plus five other NBA players will try to help Australia to the podium. The oddsmakers are shy about Team USA’s chances for gold, dropping the money line from -750 to -370 according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Team USA’s odds opened at -1000 in 2016 only to improve to -2000 shortly after.

Not only is the talent level an issue for this year’s team, the roster construction is cause for concern as it is full of scorers rather than playmakers.

Durant is widely considered one of the best pure scorers of his generation, having averaged 27.0 points per game for his career with four scoring titles to his credit. Bradley Beal was the second leading scorer of 2020-21 after Steph Curry, who declined an invitation to this year’s Olympic Games, and Damian Lillard was third. Beal averaged 38 passes per game for Washington with an assist-to-pass ratio of 11.7, 59th in the league. Lillard passed the ball more frequently (52 times per game), but when not directing the pick-and-roll he saw most of his possessions ending in an isolation, or man-on-man, play. In fact, among the 271 NBA players participating in at least 40 games this season, just five saw a higher percentage of possessions in isolation than Lillard. Jayson Tatum is seventh on that aforementioned list, just behind Lillard in terms of his percentage of possessions ending in an isolation play. Booker, who will join the Olympic team when the 2021 NBA Finals conclude, is also known more as a score-first player rather than a facilitator (29 passes per game).

Size could also be a problem. Bam Adebayo is among the better centers in the NBA (4.7 BPM in 2020-21, fifth-best at the position), but he is no looming figure at 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds. Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra recognized that as well and used Adebayo as the Heat’s power forward during the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks. Adebayo’s backups on Team USA, Draymond Green, Kevin Love, Jerami Grant and possibly Durant, are also not traditional centers, illustrating the weakness at the position.

Not even one of the best basketball minds in the game, Gregg Popovich, can be a port in this storm. Since Popovich replaced Mike Krzyzewski as head coach, the U.S. men’s basketball team has a 9-5 record (including exhibition games).

Could it be that Team USA’s foibles out of the gate are because of a lack of chemistry rather than a lack of talent? Sure, but this year’s squad has a talent level more in line with the team that won bronze in 2004 rather than those that won gold in the past.

The Tokyo Olympics begin officially July 23 with the Opening Ceremonies and end August 8. Here’s what you need to know about the Games.

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Show your pride for Team USA with these gold medal-worthy fashion picks

CNN 17 July, 2021 - 02:01am

In honor of the 2021 Games, we’ve rounded up 21 gold medal-worthy fashion items to show your patriotism, spirit and, of course, excellent taste. From items designed by official clothing partner Ralph Lauren to be worn by Team USA, to American flag-printed T-shirts, to USA-emblazoned onesies, it’s time to step up to the style podium.

Wear the same jersey T-shirt Team USA will don in the Opening Ceremony with this blue and white striped American-made style that features the official logo patch of the US team along with the signature Ralph Lauren embroidered pony.

Also to be worn by the American athletes during the Opening Ceremony, this unisex red, white and blue belt, inspired by menswear patterns, is both classic and patriotic.

There’ll be no doubt who you’re supporting during the games when you don this navy polo shirt emblazoned with bold, red USA lettering. The special-edition style is inspired by the 1964 Tokyo Games look and includes the official Team USA logo patch.

Red, white and blue gets the tie-dye treatment with this patriotic hat that includes USA lettering on the front, a buckled leather back strap and the official Team USA logo patch on the side.

Hosting or heading to a Summer Games viewing party? You’ll be party-ready with this easy-breezy 100% cotton polo shirt dress with wide red, white and blue stripes and the official US Olympic team patch.

Fans of the iconic Ralph Lauren Polo Bear will be drawn to this Olympic-inspired, cotton navy T-shirt that features a bear dressed in Team USA Opening Ceremony attire and waving an American flag.

Your future Olympians will be ready to cheer on their favorite athletes in this cotton-blend fleece hoodie that says “USA” in English and “Tokyo” in Japanese on the front and “Team USA” in Japanese on the left sleeve.

Classic red, white and blue tie-dye gets the Team USA treatment with this soft, terry hoodie with a pinwheel design.

To be worn by Team USA during the Closing Ceremony, these crisp white jeans feature “USA” and the American flag on one leg.

Available in army green, pink, blue, gray and white, this cotton-blend T-shirt pays homage to both the United States and the American flag.

If you can’t wait for some serious bump, set, spike action during the Summer Games, this soft crewneck sweatshirt embossed with the American flag, “USA” and the USA Volleyball badge is just the thing to wear as players hit the court and the beach.

Whether you’re at the gym, running errands or attending an Olympics party, this cute, highly rated crop top that comes in a slew of colors will show your support for Team USA.

The iconic Lacoste alligator logo gets the Olympic treatment with this navy ball cap that features both a red, white and blue logo and adjustable back strap.

Cheer on the gold medal-winning US Women’s National Team as they take to the soccer pitch with this 2021-22 away stadium replica jersey. Bold graphics, Dri-FIT technology and a fitted silhouette make this a real winner.

You don’t have to be a boxing fan to appreciate this soft long-sleeve short robe that’s printed with Team USA on the back, has an embroidered official Paralympic logo on the front pocket and comes with pockets and an adjustable belt. In other words, it’s a knockout.

Are your daughters inspired by the Simone Bileses, Megan Rapinoes, Sue Birds and Allyson Felixes of the Summer Games? Snag them an officially licensed Team USA workout tank and let the backyard Olympics begin!

Don’t leave the wee ones out of the Olympic celebration fun. This cute red, white and blue illustrated “USA” onesie lets babies show their spirit too.

Comfy but still cool with its drop shoulders, quarter-length zipper and adjustable drawstring hem, this mock-neck, official Team USA licensed sweatshirt with its Tokyo Olympics logo is something we’ll be wearing all Games long.

Cue the cuteness! Perfect for running around outside or wearing while watching 17-year-old US tennis phenom Coco Gauff during the Games, this sporty Hello Kitty visor not only has adorable cat ears but also an American flag bow and “Team USA” on the band.

Go ahead and start the “USA” chants now. This heather gray “USA All Day” T-shirt is just the thing to wear to your Opening Ceremony party.

Feeling the Olympic energy? Send it into overdrive with this fun red, white and blue lightning bolt print T-shirt that you’ll wear long after the Closing Ceremony.

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Meet the North Texans Representing Team USA

NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth 16 July, 2021 - 09:26pm

After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Olympics are now less than a week away.

At least 14 North Texans will represent the United States:

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