The NBA news and rumors keep coming this offseason, especially about remaining free agents and Team USA.
Check out the latest buzz below.
Lakers Work Out Michael Beasley and 7 Others
The Los Angeles Lakers have worked out eight players, including Michael Beasley.
Typically thought of as a power forward, Beasley could spend time at small forward if the Lakers sign him.
Beasley spent the last season with the Miami Heat. It was his second workout for the Lakers.
“Beasley remains a tantalizing talent, but he left the Phoenix Suns on unflattering terms in the summer of 2013 and wasn’t able redeem himself in his return to the Heat last season. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sang Beasley’s praises for much of the regular season but played him in only four of 20 playoff games (17 of his combined 23 minutes came in the NBA Finals finale blowout loss against the San Antonio Spurs),” noted USA Today.
The source also said that the Lakers’ workout also included big men Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, and Daniel Orton; and guards Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee.
The Lakers currently have 13 players–meaning two spots are open–and are especially thin at small forward, although Kobe Bryant could play there at times.
The Lakers have added multiple players during the offseason–big men Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, and point guard Jeremy Lin.
The team also drafted Julius Randle. Either he or Boozer will likely start at power forward.
US opens basketball worlds vs Finns and their fans
Finland’s Hanno Mottola reacts after the end of a EuroBasket European Basketball Championship Group D against Turkey match at the Bonifika Arena, in Koper, Slovenia, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Finland won 61-55. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
BILBAO, Spain—They are the biggest thing in Bilbao, backed by 8,000 fans — not to mention some Angry Birds — whose free-spending boosters are such believers they’ve already started lining up transportation to the second round.
And if looking good in the stands meant as much as on the court when Finland received a debated wild card to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, that’s not the players’ problem. Their goal is to make the fans’ trip worthwhile.
A strong performance against the U.S. would be a good start.
The Finns make their World Cup debut Saturday against the top-ranked Americans, who will feel like they’re playing a road game inside the Bilbao Exhibition Center.
“We’re here to fight and obviously it’s a pretty big mountain to climb Saturday, but we just try to face one situation at a time and hope after 40 minutes that we get a good game out of it,” Finland veteran and former NBA player Hanno Mottola said.
For the Americans, it’s step one of an expected lengthy march to Madrid for the gold-medal game, a chance for a team not yet in top form to keep getting better.
For Finland, it’s something closer to the Super Bowl.
Finnish officials expect their fans to fill perhaps half of the 16,261-seat arena, with thousands more possibly coming to this Basque city. Supporters chartered more than 40 planes from Finland and aren’t stopping there, looking into renting a train to take them to Barcelona if Finland advances to the knockout round.
Finland finished ninth in last summer’s European championship, failing to qualify automatically for the World Cup. But basketball’s governing body made the 39th-ranked Finnish the lowest-ranked team ever to receive a wild card to its world championship, taking note not only of the team’s improving performance but also the “Wolfpack’s” fan and financial backing.
Before the wild cards were awarded in February, Finnish company Rovio, maker of the popular Angry Birds games, had agreed to provide advertising for FIBA if Finland was selected. Finland also has support of Microsoft, whose name is on their practice jerseys, but Mottola disputes that his team is here simply for economic reasons.
“If people use that lame excuse of Angry Birds, Rovio, I don’t see Rovio here anywhere,” he said. “Obviously, if we’ve got some big, big companies in Finland like Nokia and Microsoft and Rovio, if they’re willing to help Finnish athletes and teams, who wouldn’t take that help? But I don’t think it’s a corporate decision. And also, I mean, who else brings in 8,000 fans?”
The top seven finishers in the European championship qualified automatically, leaving Finland next in line among last year’s finishers from Europe once Italy withdrew from the wild card bidding. The other wild cards went to Greece, Turkey and Brazil, all ranked in the world’s top 10.
“I think we fulfilled every category that FIBA wanted. So I mean, if you show me a better team in the last three years, then fine, but obviously FIBA felt that we bring a lot of excitement here,” Mottola added. “If I would choose a way how to get qualifications, I wouldn’t have wild cards, but that’s not our problem. I know there’s been a lot of talk, we were right there from the beginning. I don’t think there’s a question that we definitely belong here because of our basketball success.”
Besides Mottola, who helped Utah reach the 1998 NCAA championship game, Finland’s roster is filled with players who have played in the U.S., including Erik Murphy, who spent last season with the Chicago Bulls. They play an American style, looking to push the pace and shoot 3-pointers.
“They appear to me to have great camaraderie and an amazing work ethic. They have good guards and any team can cause you problems when they have good guards and they play hard and they’re motivated. And they shoot a lot of 3s,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “If all of a sudden they see three or four go in in a row, you get even more confidence.”
Krzyzewski’s team was visited at practice Friday by Bilbao’s mayor, with fans waiting outside the gym for pictures and autographs.
“It’s pretty humbling to see how many NBA fans there are around the world,” U.S. guard Klay Thompson said.
This time, most of them will be there to see the other team.
Pacquiao eyeing World Peace for his hoop team
In this Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Milwaukee Bucks’ Luke Ridnour, front left, and New York Knicks’ Metta World Peace (51) go after a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
MANILA, Philippines—Manny Pacquiao has expressed interest in recruiting former NBA All Star Metta World Peace to the Filipino boxing champion’s newest venture — professional basketball.
Pacquiao has become playing coach of the newly-formed KIA Sorentos in the Philippine Basketball Association, adding to his other careers as a world champion boxer and local congressman.
Local media this week quoted Pacquiao saying he intended to speak to the 34-year-old forward about joining the expansion team.
“He’s okay. He’s my friend,” The Philippine Star quoted Pacquiao as saying of World Peace, whom he first met in Los Angeles in 2009 ahead of his fight against Miguel Cotto.
“We need a good import,” he said. “If we get him that would be nice.”
World Peace, who changed his name from Ron Artest, is currently playing for the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association after a long NBA career which included stints with the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
Early in his NBA career, he was known as much for a series of controversies — most notably the fist-fight with fans at an Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game — as he was for his on-field talent.
Pacquiao is currently in the United States on a promotional tour for his WBO welterweight title defense against American Chris Algieri on Nov. 22 in Macau.
At 5 feet 6 inches (169 centimers) tall, Pacquiao does not have the typical dimensions of a basketball player, but is a big fan of the sport and has funded the construction of courts in rural communities in his southern home province of Sarangani where he sometimes plays with the locals.
Bulls Still Have Roster Flaws
The Chicago Bulls added some critical pieces this offseason, drafting Doug McDermott, bringing in Nikola Mirotic, and signing Pau Gasol. And Derrick Rose should be back for much or all of the season after recovering from his injury.
But the team, projected to be in the top three in the Eastern Conference by pretty much everyone, still has flaws, points out Bleacher Report columnist Andres Montero.
For one, the team doesn’t have a true backup center with Taj Gibson coming in small at just 6’9″.
“Luckily for Chicago, the Eastern Conference isn’t packed with big, physical centers, but it’s something that may have to be remedied as the Bulls look to reach the NBA Finals,” Montero notes. Cameron Bairstow is the backup center but the big man rotation will likely be almost exclusively Gasol, Gibson, and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls are also missing ball handlers at the wing positions. Montero says that Kirk Hinrich is almost the only option here besides Rose, which is prompting coach Tom Thibodeau to plan to play Hinrich at point sometimes to get Derrick Rose off the ball, per Sports Illustrated.
The biggest flaw might be the problem of still relying on Rose. If he goes down with an injury again, the Bulls could see another first-round playoff exit.
“Chicago’s brain trust knew it had to strengthen the offense by adding another elite option, but in failing to do so, the Bulls were left with no insurance for the team. Tom Thibodeau can probably turn Aaron Brooks into a solid backup like he’s done in the past with others, but like those before him, Brooks will simply be a stopgap. This is easily Chicago’s biggest roster flaw,” Montero says.
“As diverse and deep as it is, losing Rose will leave an irreparable tear in the Bulls offense like it has in the past. Gasol is no longer at a stage in his career where he can lead an offense, and no one else on the perimeter can attack the rim like Rose can or draw the same kind of attention.”
But if Rose can stay healthy, the Bulls should make a deep run.
Mario Chalmers Lists Miami Condo
Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers has listed his condominium for $4 million.
“On the 49th floor of the Marquis Residences, across the street from American Airlines Arena, the two-story condo is 5,475 square feet. There are five bedrooms and five bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling glass windows with ocean and bay views and a large outdoor terrace,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
“There are 20-foot ceilings, and the condo has marble floors as well as a game room and two laundry rooms. Four parking spaces are included.”
The 67-story building, one of the tallest in Miami, includes a pool, spa, and gym.
Chalmers purchased the condo in 2012 from Drake for $2.4 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.