Donald Sterling and the United States of Outrage

By now everyone has heard of the Donald Sterling story. The media frenzy went far beyond ESPN and Sterling’s recent interview with Anderson Cooper definitely added more fuel to the fire.

His comments were terrible. There is no gray area, no, “I think his words were taken out of context” justification. The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, rightfully punished Sterling with a lifetime ban and the forced selling of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sadly that sale is going to make Sterling a ton of money.

I have no further input on Sterling’s comments. There’s nothing more to be said. However, I do think this Sterling situation has revealed a serious nationwide problem. One that we all suffer from to some degree.

Simply put: our national outrage-o-meter is out of whack. 

It seems like the media has kept us in one state of outrage for the last five years. Before Sterling there was Paula Deen. Before Paula Deen there was Miley Cyrus twerking. Before that there was Lance Armstrong cheating, Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, Anthony Weiner’s selfies, Mitt Romney with a dog on his roof, Mike Vick torturing dogs, Mel Gibson ranting against Jews and Barack Obama hinting at socialism to Joe the Plumber.

Not to mention Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. They’ve got a special case of outrage because they tick off the self-righteous people like myself who are “outraged by outrage”.

What I mean by that is Kim Kardashian will post a photo of her buttcheeks, Kanye will say he’s like Jesus and people like me will get on their soap box shouting, “What type of country do we live in that this is news! Why do people care about these two! I care so little about them that I just wrote a 500 word blog post showing just how little I care!”

“Outrage” has become a drug or, at the very least, like a handful of jelly beans.

When this Sterling story fades away, my blood sugar levels will drop and I’ll need another sound bite to fill the void.

With each repetitive outrage, the next one loses its impact. These “grave offenses” end up becoming just part of a generic, interchangeable formula:

Famous Person + Doing Something They Shouldn’t + Public = Outrage

Example:

Miley Cyrus (role model for young girls) + twerking on a 40-year-old man + MTV Awards Goes Viral = Outrage

Now plug in Donald Sterling. Or Jonah Hill. Or Justin Bieber.

An even more advanced formula, the holy grail combination that networks dream at landing, is called the Outrage-alanche. It’s the same formula as the one from above, just throw in some religion or political aspect. This equals ‘Royal Outrage’ and gets us hooked for another month on the same story.

This is why you will hear things like:

Oh, the Liberal media wants to crucify Paula Deen, but where were they when Jay-Z said the n-word!

Oh, Fox News wants to make a big deal about Barack Obama’s comments, but listen to these same newscasters seven years ago defending President Bush!

Don’t take the bait! Conservatives don’t have to support Paula Deen out of some weird twisting of the First Amendment. Liberals don’t have to hold a grudge against everything President Bush did in office.

There is a legitimate alternative called: I’m just not outraged by that.

Simple. Healthy. And the best part is when something truly outrageous does come along, that outrage is taken more seriously.

How can this be implemented?

There is not 24 hours worth of news in a day. In reality there’s probably only 15 minutes worth of info. So check in once. Go back to the good ol newspaper or watch Jon Stewart at night. That’s all we need.

And let others around you be outraged by Lindsay Lohan’s next DUI. Let there be horrible hashtags when a baseball player is suspended for steroids. Let there be mass Facebook profile photos supporting some obscure piece of legislation (below is my profile pic from January 2012. Look how outraged I was!).

Don’t be outraged by other people’s everyday outrage, instead sit back and enjoy the calm seas. That way you’ll have plenty of stored up energy the next time a Donald Sterling level situation comes around.

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Chauncey Billups Back to Detroit

By: Jonas Lawson

This season marks the ten year anniversary of the Detroit Pistons championship team, Rasheed Wallace was brought back as an assistant coach this week and now the Pistons have solidified the reunion, signing Chauncey Billups to a two-year contract.

The deal will pay Billups $2.5 million in the first year, and $2.5 million in the second year with a team option. Billups was brought back as a mentor for second year point guard Brandon Knight.

“Brandon is going through a lot of the same struggles I went through when I arrived in the league and I can show him how to handle the pressure,” Billups said.

Chauncey hopes to finish his career in the place where he found the most success.

“The pressure at this stage in my career to chase rings is high, but I believe this is the right place for me.”

Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars said the two talked over Christmas last season.

“After trading Chauncey to Denver in the way that we did, we understood that the relationship might be strained.”

Dumars has long regretted trading Billups for the expiring contract of Allen Iverson in the 2008-09 and a lot of the fans haven’t forgotten the day either.

“I hope we can pick up where we left off, the fans in the place are the best I’ve played in front of,” Billups said

Billups will turn 37 before the season starts and says he still has a lot left in the tank. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon in February of 2012 while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. After rehabbing for 11 months, doctors have cleared him to play. Billups will likely play 15-20 minutes per game and also shift over to the two-guard position. His shooting will help spread the floor for Pistons forwards Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Jonas Lawson is a recent graduate of Hope College and a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan, through the good times and the bad. For insight on the Pistons and everything NBA, follow @JALaw34 on Twitter.

Does Josh Smith Fit with the Pistons

By: Jonas Lawson

Auburn Hills, MI. – The signing of Josh Smith was a big day for a Pistons franchise that has missed the playoffs in four of the last six NBA seasons.

Pistons owner Tom Gores and GM Joe Dumars have been all business since Gores acquired the team from Karen Davidson in 2010. They have declared on many occasions that they will do whatever it takes to ensure the franchise is restored to its 2004 glory days, even if that means spending more than previous owner Bill Davidson ever did.

On July 1st at 12:01 am, Gores led the charge into free agency with one player in mind, Atlanta Hawks free agent Josh Smith.

In the past three off-seasons, the Pistons have done pretty well for themselves, drafting three franchise cornerstones in Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummond, but one place Detroit has not done particularly well in is in Free Agency.

“This summer we feel that the draft has put us in a position to become a desirable destination for Free Agents,” said Dumars.

With over 20 million in cap space and a new head coach in Maurice Cheeks, the draft is not the only thing Detroit has going for them. So at 12:01 am when Gores and Dumars met with Josh Smith in Los Angeles, they did more listening than recruiting.

“Detroit was at the top of my list, before July 1st, once they cleared the cap space I really started to think that this may become a possibility,” said Smith.

The 6-9, 225-pound forward left the meeting without a formal offer from the Pistons. The Pistons, like the rest of the league, were waiting for all the drama with the Houston Rockets and Dwight Howard to play out. Once Howard signed last Saturday, the Pistons made a big splash signing Smith to a five year, 54 million dollar contract.

“The last time we had a lot of money we went out and got Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, this time we wanted to bring in a guy who we believed can change the culture around here, so we signed Josh Smith,” Dumars said earlier.

Dumars said Smith sold himself,

“We knew Atlanta, Dallas and Houston wanted him, so we had to act fast.”

Dumars wanted to know if Smith could bring his versatility to the team, and Smith wanted to know if the franchise could nurture him with their stability and success.

“It’s hard to look around you and nobody has won anything,” Smith told reporters.”I believe we can win here,”

Smith believes that he still has not reached his ceiling and that he will be worth the money he signed for. Dumars and the coaching staff thinks he can play Small Forward, a position where his stats come 2nd to LeBron James.

“We’re pleased to welcome Josh Smith to the Pistons organization,” Dumars said. “Josh is a two-way player and we look forward to blending his talents with our young core.”

In nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks Smith averaged 15.3 ppg (.465 FG%, .283 3FG%, .654 FT%), 8.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.1 bpg , 1.3 spg and 34.1 minutes in 676 career games (654 starts). He also brings six seasons of playoff experience, something that no other player on the roster has on their resume.

Even with numbers like that, Smith has never been selected to an All Star team, often being out-shadowed by teammates.

“I feel like everything I’ve went through has made me a better player, and I’m ready for a breakout season,” Smith said.

Pistons fans can only hope that Smith is the marquee player that they have been waiting for.

Jonas Lawson is a recent graduate of Hope College and a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan, through the good times and the bad. For insight on the Pistons and everything NBA, follow @JALaw34 on Twitter.

Miami Heat Preview

By: Rob Surbrook

They signed Ray Allen, the best shooter of their nemesis, and possibly the best shooter in the world. They signed Rashard Lewis, who is largely garbage, but again, he can shoot and stretch the floor for the new-new-look small ball Heat. As Bill Simmons likes to say, the scariest thing about the Heat is their willingness to stray away from the traditional basketball positional setup of two big men, two wings, and a point. Instead, they find themselves unstoppable when Chris Bosh is their biggest player on the floor, and they have shooters spacing the floor and giving Dwyane Wade and LeBron room to do their thing. And it’s all held together by the positionless wonder himself, LBJ. Defensively, he’ll guard any player at any position, and offensively he’s found a way to play point guard from the post.

But with the improvements of nearly every Western Conference championship contender, the Heat need to figure a way to sustain the play they achieved in the playoffs, and in my opinion, that starts with keeping the starting lineup from last spring:

Mario Chalmers: Chalmers hasn’t exactly developed like the Heat hoped he would have coming out of college, but he is overall a stable player for his position. He improved his dribble-drive game against the highest competition in the playoffs and doesn’t hurt the team with his shooting and decision making, although refinement of both should continue to happen.

Dwayne Wade: Still one of the best players in the game, Wade really started to accept his role as second-banana in terms of offensive usage and it really helped the flow of the team and its offensive efficiency. He’s lost a step to age and injury, but he’s still one of the game’s best difference-makers on defense as well. His ability to stay healthy in the wake of surgery is probably the team’s biggest question mark, and honestly, it isn’t that questionable.

LeBron James: What can I say that hasn’t been said before? It becomes harder and harder to figure out the holes in Bron’s game as the years go on. I guess the biggest thing he needs to do is make sure he doesn’t revert back to the days before he perfected his inside-outside game. I’m a little scared to see what we’ll see out of him this year.

Shane Battier: When Erik Spoelstra slotted him in to start at “power forward” during the playoffs last year, the Heat really found their identity as a small-ball club. His defense against bigger post players was something that I didn’t personally see coming, but hey, if it works, it works. As long as he can keep defying age and hitting open threes to go with that defense, the Detroit Country Day grad should find himself a starting gig once again.

Chris Bosh: The unsung hero of this team, the half in the Two-and-a-half men joke proved his worth to every doubter last year when he came back from injury just in time to save the Heat from another early playoff exit. He plays better than advertised defense, and can hit a jumper like KG in his prime. He definitely should have shut up the trade talks by now.

Bench: Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and Mike Miller’s reanimated corpse (is this joke still funny?) can all hit threes, although Allen gives you no defense or rebounding, and Lewis gives you no defense. Norris Cole showed signs of being able to thrive in the type of offense the Heat would like to run, but he can get a little out of control at times. He’ll mature. Dexter Pittman will be gone soon if he doesn’t start giving some positive minutes, and Mickell Gladness is another non-factor, but he has a new deal, so they must see something in him. Joel Anthony is undersized and athletic, but doesn’t add much to the Heat’s scheme. He’s a good paint defender. Udonis Haslem is like the cool uncle of the team. He is usually awesome and adds positivity when he’s around, but occasionally he shows up drunk. Not literally, sometimes he just plays like he is.

3. Teardrops on My Keyboard: A Letter to James Harden

By: Mike Spitz

James,

I wish I could quantify how much it pains me to write this. I was riding so high
yesterday. I had a great night Friday, my Spartans won in overtime, I went on a
wonderful date to PF Chang’s with my girlfriend and then sometime around 11
pm… I checked Twitter. Finding out about your trade to Houston took the wind from
my sails. Suddenly watching ‘The Social Network’ wasn’t interesting; I just wanted to
take a short walk off a long bridge.

Watching you, Kevin, Russell and the gang the last three years was like hopping into
a time machine and watching the real life version of the Super Friends. I remember
what it was like being a Thunder fan before you arrived. You should’ve seen Kevin.
You think he’s skinny now. The reason most of us were excited for the future was
Kevin and Jeff Green. We just didn’t really know what to make of you and Russ in
the long term. How were we supposed to know your talent and chemistry would
materialize so quickly? I watched you a few times while you were at Arizona State,
but I really had no clue what kind of pro you would be.

My first concrete memory of you is draft night, 2009. I had just graduated high
school. It feels so long ago. I was pretty excited; the Thunder had shown a lot of
promise the season earlier and they sat in a really good position with the 3rd pick
in the draft. I was certain the Thunder were going to take Steph Curry or Ricky
Rubio. I think you and Sam Presti were the only two guys on earth who knew what
you were destined to become. I should’ve known I was destined to become a huge
fan the moment I saw your bow-tie on draft night. I wasn’t too disappointed when
you were selected, I just didn’t know what to think. I’m sure you understand.

At one point during your rookie season, I texted my friend and fellow Thunder
fan with an observation I made of you. “Harden looks like he doesn’t care
about anything. I never see his facial expression change.” He replied somewhat
concerned, “Hmm. That isn’t good.” How were we supposed to know about all the
different expressions hiding under that glorious facial hair?

In your first season, who would have thought! We made the playoffs, helping the
team more than double their total wins from the year before. The world didn’t really
get a good chance to see you and we still weren’t exactly sure what you would
become. So what if we were only the 8th seed and bowed out of the playoffs in the
first round. I watched every playoff game and spent most of my time when you guys
weren’t playing online looking up Thunder flags to hang proudly in my living room.
You guys playing so well and making the playoffs sure made it easier for this fan
from Michigan to see you guys. You definitely helped my wallet too, as I didn’t have
to go to Bdubs multiple times a week just to watch you guys play.

Your second year didn’t see much statistical improvement, but those of us following
definitely had good reason to be excited. You were our best player on the bench,
and we all thought it would be only a matter of time before you were starting next
to your superstar running mates. We couldn’t figure out why Scotty Brooks made
you keep starting games on the pine.

Your beard started getting lots of notoriety two years ago, and so many people were
hopping on the Thunder bandwagon that it was hard to keep my comfortable seat.
I’ll never forget you guys growing up in front of my eyes against that pesky Grizzlies
team, advancing to the conference finals. We were so close to the Finals! Who could
have possibly predicted how quickly you guys would progress. Of course then Dirk
happened, nobody on earth could stop him that spring, and that was okay. It was his
time.

With an obviously depleted Mavs team attempting to defend their title, the world
started catching on to what myself and a few close friends were already thinking; it
was your year last year. The previous summer you tore up the summer league, and
it looked again like you would definitely start. Scotty somewhat broke our hearts
again by retaining Thabo Sefalosha as the starter. I don’t know if this has anything
to do with you leaving, if you felt slighted being on the bench and third banana on
an elite team while people you came into the league with like Curry and Brandon
Jennings thrived on poor teams. If it is, just know that we loved you with the same
ferocity we love KD and Russ. Your beard became a cultural icon in OKC. I wonder
if you’ll cut it in Houston, starting completely anew. I wont forget you guys taking
down the mighty Spurs in the playoffs and being so close to that ring. I won’t forget
before games in the Finals when you would hug all of your teammates and then run
and swing around the rim like a kid on an eight foot hoop, flames erupting
in the backboard.

You even made the Olympic team this year. I was so excited when you threw down
what may have been the best dunk of the Olympics . I watched like a proud friend when you, KD and Russ were given your gold medals and Serge earned his silver.

I’m not going to lie, yesterday was the first day I’ve ever felt like I can relate to
Taylor Swift. I almost went and bought her new album. My heart is in pieces. Staying
home on Friday nights because the Thunder game is on ESPN won’t feel quite the
same this year. I’m not fully prepared for my first game as a fan where I can’t count
down the minutes until it’s your turn to enter and get the offense going
again. I think the Thunder will still be great, but it’ll be like watching Recess without
Vince or Spinelli. It’s just not gonna be the same.

I’ll still support you James. It won’t be easy at first, but the Rockets are a team I
already thought was on the cusp of success. Houston fans are going to have some
great memories thanks to you, and I’ll be clapping the whole time.

-Mike

Go share your words of support, maybe chip in to buy some Taylor Swift concert tickets for the proud, but hurting, OKC Thunder fan and great writer @micspitz

7. Indiana Pacers

By: Nic Talbott

The NBA has continued to become a superstar league with this offseason only solidifying the point. With powerhouses such as the Miami Heat and LA Lakers improving their already prominent, flashy rosters many novice basketball fans do not see the likelihood of  teams other than the elite to compete. I disagree though because I am just too big of a fan of basketball. The fundamentals, the team play, the hard work. I am an obvious Hoosier at heart.

This leads me to my team summary of the Indiana Pacers, the definition of a balanced NBA team. What’s so intriguing about the Pacers is how efficient of a team they were this past season without a true “superstar”. With a 42-24 record over a shortened lockout season they had the 3rd best record in the East and the 5th best record overall. They took care in the first round of the playoffs, taking out the Dwight Howard-less Magic 4-1 in the first round. In the second round they fought hard in a slugfest series with the Miami Heat leading the series 2-1 before eventually falling 4-2. The progress made during the 2011-12 season leads for a promising season with higher expectations in Indy since the Carlisle era.

This Indiana team is a deep roster without a well-known star, but is one of the deepest teams in the league. The offseason did not start as well as the Pacers had hoped for, with Larry Bird stepping down as president and the loss of GM David Morway as well. But with adequate replacements, the Pacers quickly moved on in preparation for the draft.

The NBA draft was interesting for the Pacers with a questionable first round pick in Miles Plumlee and then trading with the Sacramento Kings for Orlando Johnson. Plumlee was quoted as being “a rich man’s Jeff Foster”, but with an already tall roster the pick did not seem necessary even with Plumlee’s deserving athleticism and unparalleled work ethic. Johnson was a true leader from the University of California Santa Barbra and the Pacers desperate attempt to find a true shooter and play maker off the bench.

After all of these early complications the Pacers got to work over the offseason. The first few weeks consisted of a lot of sitting around, making sure not to be too anxious to make any rash moves. Then they went with a conservative approach, yet an expensive one. They re-signed Roy Hibbert to a max contract for $58 million over 4 years and then re-signed George Hill for $40 million over a 5 year span. From there they made a few subtle splashes via free agency and a trade. The Pacers made a sign and trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks sending Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones for Ian Mahinmi. Then they picked up free agents Gerald Green and D.J. Augustine. With that, the roster was complete, and many future deals were dealt with.

PG George Hill: Although the new deal agreed upon seemed a little high for a combo guard that’s not a true pure point guard, it was something the Pacers needed to take care of. The Pacers goal was to keep the starters from last year, which, with their resigning’s, they were able to accomplish.

SG Paul George: The most potential of any Pacers player, George is a projected break out player in the NBA this season. He is a superior athlete complimented with shooting skills and crazy height for a shooting guard at 6’10”.  He is the breakout superstar the Pacers are looking for and it’s a good possibility he could do so.

SF Danny Granger: Granger is the most well-known player on this work horse roster from his prior days as an All-Star. He is not quite up to the standards he used to be, but is still a long athletic player with a wide array of offensive skills.

PF David West: The leader and the enforcer on this young roster, David West proved that he is still the same caliber player he was before tearing his ACL just over a year and a half ago. His athleticism and height won’t blow you away but his fundamentals and leadership are unmatched.

C Roy Hibbert: If the Pacers had to officially tag one of its players as a superstar it would have to be Hibbert. The giant became an All-Star for the first time last year despite not having dominant stats. He is much better than his stats though and always has a major impact on the game. This showed during the playoffs where the point differential when he was in the game was in his favor in a major way. His work ethic and sheer height makes him a great center in a shrinking league.

Bench: The changes made this offseason by the Pacers definitely focused on changing the bench in hopes of improvement. The new additions of Mahinmi, Augustine, and Green were made to give the second unit an offensive punch, something they didn’t have this past postseason. Also on the bench is the captain of the goon squad himself, Tyler Hansbrough. Wrapping up the bench is the infamous Lance Stephenson who has a boatload of talent, but questionable character issues. The remaining bench players are Ben Hansbrough (Psycho B), Jeff Pendegraph, Sam Young, and the rookies who all have talent, but most likely won’t see the court.

Overall the Pacers are a scary team to face this next NBA season. Although not many flashy changes were made, they have another year to mesh with a young talented roster. Statistically speaking, the Pacers had the most efficient starting five in the league this past season. With improvements on the bench and lots of raw talent, the Pacers have a massive amount of potential.

An X-factor the Pacers have is their height. In a shrinking league the Pacers have the tallest roster in the NBA. Their starting 5 is insane with heights of 6’3”, 6’10”, 6’8”, 6’9”, and 7’2” all of which have longer wingspans than their heights. Also they have Psycho T, Pendegraph, Plumlee, and Mahinmi off the bench with Plumlee and Mahinmi being athletic reliable big men. What makes this such a dangerous skill is the fact that the Eastern Conference elite teams lack quality big men talent. The defending champs only have Chris Bosh as a reliable returner from last year and he plays more of a pick and pop game and is notoriously soft in the middle. The Celtics are similar too, recently going small this past season playing Garnett at center.

My bias tells me the Pacers will be an incredible team this year, but the numbers and talent speak for themselves. I think for the first time is a while many people are expecting big things for the Hoosiers

Prediction: 56-26 2nd place in the Eastern Conference
Lose in the Finals to the Lakers 1-4
Beat the Heat in the Playoffs, revenge

It’s a bold prediction to have them defeating the defending champs especially with the NBA and refs on their side but I wouldn’t be a true fan if I thought they couldn’t do it. The Pacers are coming, better brace yourself before they take the NBA by storm.

USA Oh-Babay Basketball Team

By: Christopher O’Brien

Here’s the most up to date list of the USA Oh-Babay basketball team roster:

If you can’t see the image above very well, take a look here.

How in the world do you narrow this down? So much talent to choose from.

With the exception of Lamar Odom, who I’m not really sure how he got on this list in the first place, each cut from here on out is a major challenge.

Here is how I would construct the 12 man roster.

*Note: I’m assuming Dwyane Wade is going to miss the Oh-Babay due to surgery.

1. LeBron James – Easiest selection by far. In the international game, LeBron can play all five positions.

2. Chris Paul – Team needs a point guard, Chris Paul is the best in basketball.

3. Kevin Durant – Durant carried the USA team on his back in the 2010 FIBA World Cup. Not sure if it’s called World Cup yet, but I’m sticking with it.

I can’t wait to see LeBron and Durant play together. It’s like the Miami Heat, but with Durant playing the role of Mike Miller. Good luck defending against this.

4. Kobe Bryant – This will be his last run at another Olympic gold medal. The team needs him especially with Wade’s injury. Plus, I’d love to see Coach K put Kobe against LeBron’s team in practice and recreate the ’92 MJ vs. Magic alpha dog battle.

5. Carmelo Anthony – In the international game, Carmelo Anthony has actually had the most success offensively of any player on this list. His mix of size, strength, and shooting ability has made him the team’s leading scorer in the past.

Could Coach K use this as his starting five? Possibly, but against some of the bigger teams he’ll need to utilize a true defensive minded center, which brings me to:

6. Tyson Chandler – He’s not Dwight Howard, but NBA Defensive Player of the Year Chandler will be crucial when battling the Gasol brothers of Spain.

7. Chris Bosh – Good guy to have on the court hitting midrange jumpers. Bosh’s more finesse style bodes well for the international game and he’ll need to put the same effort into rebounding that he did in the NBA Finals to help fill in the potential rebounding weakness of this team.

8. Deron Williams – I like Rajon Rondo better, but he’s not on the list. I’m assuming too much bad blood between him and the Heat guys. I could see Rondo never giving the ball to LeBron. With Deron Williams you have a solid backup for Chris Paul.

9. Russell Westbrook – Versatile pick. He can play a little point guard, but will often come in as the backup shooting guard to Kobe Bryant. His speed and effort will provide a huge boost off the bench.

10. Kevin Love – Can step out and hit the three and rebounds like crazy. Better value with Love than going with Blake Griffin.

11. Anthony Davis – Not a bad year for the Unibrow. Kentucky National Championship, No. 1 draft pick, and now the potential to win a gold medal. Once again, not Dwight Howard, but the combination of Chandler and Davis should give USA all the shot blocking power they need down low.

12. Blake Griffin – Imagine the dunking potential of Griffin going up against some of the lesser international squads in the first few games. Way too many Youtube moments and poster opportunities to pass this up.

Who I cut:

James Harden – This is hard because my roster only has one true shooting guard in Kobe Bryant. I think they can recover from this with Westbrook or maybe playing Chris Paul and Deron Williams at the same time. If necessary, they can always have Kevin Durant, LeBron James, or Carmelo Anthony slide over to the shooting guard.

The biggest concern for this team will be the Spanish frontline of Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, and Serge Ibaka (not sure how he ended up in Spain). It will be more important to have depth with the bigs (Griffin, Love, Bosh, Davis, and Chandler) than bringing in Harden.

Eric Gordon – Health concerns.

Andre Iguodala – Just too much depth at the small forward position. His defense was crucial for the 2010 FIBA team, but hard to steal minutes in 2012 from LeBron/Durant/Carmelo. If Carmelo were to opt out, Iguodala would be my first choice to fill the spot.

Rudy Gay – Same reasoning as Iguodala, too much ahead of him at the position.

Starting Lineup/Rotation: 

An even harder decision. I’ll go with this look: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Tyson Chandler. 

Off the bench I bring in Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and Kevin Love as my main three  reserves.

After that, depending on certain matchups, then I can utilize Chris Bosh and Russell Westbrook.

Expect Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis to be the 11th and 12th men on this team.

Let me know what your lineup looks like and go USA!