Anthony Davis will not play with USA senior men’s basketball this summer after previously indicating he would. For those of us who love to watch Davis play basketball, that’s a real bummer. It’s also a bummer for Gregg Popovich and USA Basketball, which is actually a little short on stars now due to injuries and rejections.
The 20-man player list has just three players who made the All-NBA team last season: James Harden, Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard. There’s also Bradley Beal, Tobias Harris, Kevin Love, and Khris Middleton, and then another tier down after that. This is a team pretty light on big men, but a team talented enough to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and probably win the World Cup. Probably.
For Davis, it’s a missed opportunity to begin flipping the public perception of himself and to be recognized as someone other than the dude who forced a trade to the Lakers. He could have been the alpha star of Team USA this summer, but instead he’ll ... I don’t know, film his Space Jam 2 scenes? To each his own. But it’s a missed opportunity.
Just because Russell Westbrook doesn’t shoot threes very well doesn’t mean he doesn’t fit the Rockets. There’s a false narrative that Daryl Morey is obsessed with threes — it’s just not true. He’s obsessed with market inefficiencies, with the Billy Beane economic model of sports. He sensed an undervalued star in Westbrook, and he went after it. It looks like a desperation move when it’s actually a cold calculation on asset valuation.
The truth is that Morey has acted desperately throughout his tenure leading the Rockets. That’s not a bad thing: his urgency is far more compelling than complacency. Some teams stay stable and eventually break through. Morey actively looks for cracks and tries new angles every year or two. It’s just his style.
This misunderstanding of Morey’s mode of operation has confounded some Hardenistas and efficiency nuts who hate the trade. And to be sure, it might not work at all. But you have to give Morey some credit for sticking to his management style, even if you don’t like the outcome. The guy is constantly going big, no matter how close to glory it looks like the Rockets have gotten.
Michael Pina argues that the Rockets system can actually get the most out of Russell Westbrook. Matt Ellentuck is skeptical.
Dwight Howard is open to a Lakers reunion. Can’t wait for the billboards.
Part 2 of Baxter Holmes’ series on the crisis of competition and specialization in youth basketball.
Be excellent to each other.