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With Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and LaMarcus Aldridge withdrawing from the USA National Team, executive director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to invite forward Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks to try and fill the void.
Millsap signed a two-year, $19 million contract with the Hawks last offseason after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Utah Jazz.
In his first season with the Hawks, Millsap averaged 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks, while shooting 35.8 percent from three-point range and 46.1 percent from the field overall. Millsap put up some of the best statistics of his career and turned himself into a legitimate threat from beyond-the-arc. He increased his three-point shooting percentage from 22.6 percent in the 2011-12 NBA season to 35.8 percent last season.
The ability to spread the floor in FIBA competitions is very important, especially considering the three-point line is shorter than the NBA three-point line. While Millsap may not be the shooter that Love is, the athlete that Griffin is or the towering presence that Aldridge is, he offers up a good mix of strength, skill and competitiveness to fill the void left by those three. Millsap has prior experience with the USA basketball program, having participated in the 2009 national team mini-camp.
With the addition of Millsap, the number of players trying out at USA training camp in Las Vegas stands at 19 (not counting players competing on the select team). Colangelo and Krzyzewski will have to cut that number down to 12 before competing in the FIBA World Cup Tournament in Spain later this summer.
Millsap joins Hawks teammate Kyle Korver, who is competing against other sharpshooters in Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal and Chandler Parsons to make the 12-man roster.
After four years of wearing No. 6 with the Miami HEAT, LeBron James is going back to the number he wore for most of his high school career and his first seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, No. 23.
Shortly after announcing that James would return to the Cavaliers, he took to the internet to ask his fans what number they thought he should wear moving forward. After a few weeks, James decided to go back to his original number.
At one time, James said that he believed all players who wore number 23 should switch to a different number out of respect to Michael Jordan and his accomplishments, but seems to have backed away from that position.
Many remember the images of Cleveland fans burning their No. 23 James jerseys immediately after he announced that he would be taking his talents to South Beach. However, many fans kept their James jerseys, and are now being rewarded for their self-restraint.
The Chicago Bulls officially announced that Jimmy Butler will miss the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas due to a groin strain.
While it is unfortunate for Butler to miss the opportunity to compete against, and learn from, some of the best players in the league, the fact is that he was not going to be selected to join the final 12-man roster that will compete in the FIBA World Cup Tournament.
Last season, Butler averaged 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals, shooting 39.7% from the field. Butler played a career high 38.7 minutes per game last season, and shot a career high 10.3 field goals per game due in large part to the absence of Derrick Rose and the mid-season trade of Luol Deng. Butler’s shooting percentages went down as defenses could focus more attention to him, as the Bulls struggled to score all season. Nevertheless, at just age 24, Butler is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league and has a developing offensive game.
With Rose set to return to the Bulls after missing the last two seasons, it seems Chicago is being extremely cautious with Butler, ensuring that he will be as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Rose, who has famously missed the last two seasons due to knee injuries, is set to compete at the Las Vegas training camp. It will be the first time he will compete in live-game action after rehabbing all season from a surgery to repair his meniscus.
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