Trust me, Damian Lillard, I know how annoying it is to go on Twitter only to see your name trending for what feels like the 100th time.
Elias Schuster is so hot. Elias Schuster saved a puppy from a burning car. Elias Schuster makes the best Enchiladas. Did I mention Elias Schuster is so hot!?
I’ve seen it all, man, but you just got to tune out the noise. Do what you have to do and make whatever decision is best for you.
Oh, but I highly recommend that decision is to demand a trade to the Chicago Bulls. Cool? Cool.
The Damian Lillard Trade Talk Is Picking Up Steamhttps://t.co/CV7j1k6QQc
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) July 16, 2021
• In all seriousness, this Lillard stuff looks messy. The superstar spoke with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes about his thoughts on the current state of the Blazers franchise, and it sure read like he came two steps away from saying he will demand a trade. Here is a snippet that should scare each person inside the Trail Blazers organization:
I think that’s the stage we’re at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we’ve constantly come up short. We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we’re doing is not working and it’s not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on.
• Haynes said Lillard would address a report about his future (assumingly the one from True Hoop that said he will request a trade in the coming days) after Team USA practice on Friday. The NBA world waits anxiously.
• Speaking of Team USA, things are not looking too great for those decision-makers either. USA Basketball announced on Thursday that Bradley Beal would be replaced due to health and safety protocols. Then, earlier this morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced big man Kevin Love has decided to withdraw from the Olympic competition, thus opening another roster spot.
Team USA is working to replace two players for the 12-man roster now. Both Bradley Beal and Kevin Love won't join the team in Tokyo this month. https://t.co/Ph6DfKZOIf
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 16, 2021
• Officially one week out from the start of the Olympics in Tokyo, this leaves Team USA in a very vulnerable spot. Only six players from the original 12-man roster are currently in the Las Vegas gym. Beal and Love are gone, Jerami Grant remains in quarantine, and Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton are currently competing in the NBA Finals. With that in mind, it was not too surprising to see that USA Basketball promoted Keldon Johnson from the Select Team to fill one of the roster spots. Already practicing with the team and competing in some exhibition games, Johnson should experience a pretty effortless adjustment. He may not be a drastic needle-mover, but he should add a level of defensive versatility this team needs.
• Now, I’m sure the player the team gets to fill Love’s spot will be a young, up-and-coming big man that can– DOES THAT SAY JAVALE MCGEE!? SOMEONE TELL ME THAT DOES NOT SAY JAVALE MCGEE!!
Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee will replace Bradley Beal and Kevin Love on Team USA's roster for the Olympics, sources tell ESPN. McGee will travel to Las Vegas to join team on Saturday. https://t.co/236CgYVau0
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 16, 2021
• McGee might be able to give the team a more physical body around the rim, but this feels like an easily-avoidable missed opportunity. You’re really telling me guys like Julius Randle, Jarrett Allen, Zion Williamson, and Christian Wood said no? What about Ja Morant, Trae Young, or Tyrese Haliburton? This team could also use a more true facilitator.
• Whatever. Both replacements should at least show us that Zach LaVine will take on a bigger role. We already saw him carry a much larger workload in the team’s first exhibition victory against Argentina, and I expect we see a somewhat similar reliance on him for at least the first couple of games in Tokyo (Booker, Middleton, and Holiday will eventually eat minutes after they are caught up to speed).
• After all, LaVine sure does sound ready to do whatever it takes to get a gold medal around his neck. NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer did an amazing one-on-one interview with the All-Star, and I couldn’t encourage you more to give it a read.
From training for the Olympics, to looming extension talks, to a critical season ahead for Bulls, Zach LaVine has a lot going on.
We sat down to talk about that and more earlier this week in Vegas. Conversation available in Bulls Talk Pod feed as well:https://t.co/o3Ub6V3hwE
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) July 16, 2021
• While there are many awesome nuggets inside Schaefer’s interview, one of the best is easily when LaVine talks about Patrick Williams’ progress on the Select Team. LaVine said after he gave Williams fits on the court one day, the youngster came back the next looking dominant.
(He) was scoring, defending, went and smacked one of my shots off the backboard out of nowhere. I didn’t even know where he came from. I had like a wide-open, fast break and he came and blocked me. (He) was hitting some pull-ups, guarded everybody well, got some blocks. So he looked really, really good. And then the last two scrimmages as well, really strong play.
• Considering the front office has a lot riding on Williams’ ability to play winning basketball as soon as next season, this is all kinds of encouraging. Not to mention, I couldn’t be happier these two (LaVine and Williams) get to work on their game together in this competitive environment. They might be battling against each other on the regular, but there is no question this opportunity should help them further develop a needed chemistry.
• Vooch out here living his best life!
Zabljak, Crna Gora pic.twitter.com/2Ym6Ld1tzN
— Nikola Vucevic (@NikolaVucevic) July 16, 2021