3-on-3: Wall and Beal Cut from Team USA, Cassell’s Depature, and Continued #KSlife
Three questions, three answers, from three different people.
TAI’s Adam Rubin, Rashad Mobley and Conor Dirks ponder John Wall and Bradley Beal getting cut from Team USA; Sam Cassell’s departure for Doc Rivers’ coaching staff in L.A.; and the continued existence of #KSlife (Kevin Seraphin). Let’s start it…
[Bradley Beal attacks the rim during the Team USA scrimmage last Friday.]
1) What do you make of John Wall and Bradley Beal getting cut from Team USA?
Were they snubbed? Did they deserve to make it? Can you understand why one or the other didn’t make it while still feeling they’re more talented (or suited) than others on the roster?
Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace):
I do not think Wall and Beal deserved to make the roster. However, that does not mean Wall and Beal are worse NBA players than the 16 that survived Monday’s cut.
Let’s start with Wall. He was competing with Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving—all incredibly gifted scorers (much more so than Wall) who do not play defense. The only way I saw Wall making the team was if Coach K viewed him as a defensive stopper who could wreak havoc in a full court press against shaky point guards. But Wall’s defense is still more potential than reality. For all his speed and length, he still struggles to stay in front of speedy guards and most of his spectacular defensive plays are chase down blocks.
I also did not put too much stock in the notion that Wall was the only “true” point guard on the roster. Wall is definitely the best passer and the only guard on Team USA who gains more joy from an assist than a made basket, but Team USA is loaded offensively and does not necessarily need a ball dominant point guard to create open looks. Lillard, Curry and Irving are all pretty good ball handlers and more than capable of finding open shooters. Their floor spacing is a lot more important in international play than Wall’s play-making.
Plus, if we are being honest, Wall looked pretty bad in last Friday night’s scrimmage. It’s tough to make the case for a “true” point guard when Wall is committing unforced turnover after unforced turnover.
Beal was in an even more difficult spot than Wall. I don’t think he would have made the team even if he had been the best player in training camp up until cut day. He just had too many big names in front of him. Coach K seems comfortable playing Lillard, Curry and Irving as shooting guards opposite Derrick Rose. So, Beal was competing with those guys in addition to all the wing players (Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, Paul George, DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons). And the one thing all those wing players have in common is they are all bigger than Beal. They can all play small forward—and some can even play stretch power forward minutes—in international play. Beal may be the best NBA shooting guard of the bunch, but he is the least versatile option for international competition.
[John Wall knows chase-down blocks.]
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):
Since Jerry Colangelo and Coach K have been running the Team USA show, the makeup of their rosters has a little to do with talent, a little to do with maintaining chemistry, and a lot to do with finding proven niche players. All-world players like Kevin Durant will always make the team no matter what, but beyond that, someone has to score, rebound, shoot from long distance, and demonstrate versatility on the floor. It isn’t as if Wall and Beal cannot do some of those things on the court, it simply means they aren’t known for excelling in those areas as well as some of their former colleagues still on the team. Not yet anyway.
As Landon Donovan found out shortly before the World Cup, games on the world’s stage have little to do with who deserves what and everything to do with a coach wanting to have the best chance to win. Between now and the Olympics in 2016, Wall and Beal could have the type of seasons that would make it impossible for the powers-that-be to keep them off the team, so all is not lost. In fact, this may be yet another layer of motivation for them both, as the Washington Post‘s Mike Wise mentioned yesterday.
On a purely selfish note, after seeing the unfortunately injury of Paul George on Friday night, I was hoping Wall and Beal would get the hell out of the there. Season-ending injuries are always tragic, particularly when they happen to a star player like George. The Wizards have had an unprecedented string of good luck as of late, and an injury to Wall or Beal (even Nene playing for Brazil makes me nervous) would seriously threaten that. At least now, Beal and Wall can lick their wounds and get ready for what has the possibility to be the Wizards’ most successful season in over 35 years.
Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):
When it was announced that Wall had been invited to USA camp, I assumed it was more of a symbolic gesture (and the need for bodies in scrimmages) than the extension of any real opportunity to be on the final team. But early reports about Wall’s performance were promising, and the John Schuhmann NBA.com article which framed a Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall battle going down to the wire was the Cialis a lot of observers were waiting to swallow before cuts were made. Of course, the resulting emission of hope was premature, and Wall’s obvious place behind Irving in Mike Krzyzewski’s rotation ultimately left Wizards fans deflated, trundling off of this narrow Olympic plank into a perpetual summer refractory period.
Did Wall deserve to make the team? I don’t know. But I’m not going to sit here and act like we’re cool, Kryzewski. Silent treatment, bruh. Huge surprise coming …Wizards blogger believes John Wall is better than and a better fit on the team than ex-Duke player Kyrie Irving. I’ll let CBS Sports’ Matt Moore take it from here:
“But Wall is effectively the same outside shooter, a much better playmaker, has more experience, and is a vastly, and I mean leagues and oceans and worlds and galaxies, better defender. There’s simply nothing Irving does that Wall isn’t better at at this point.”
The only hint of hyperbole here is that Wall isn’t the scorer that Irving is, even if his 3-point shooting almost matched Irving’s last season. As Schuhmann noted in his above-linked piece, Wall is a much better catch-and-shoot player as well, which would seem to fit with USA Basketball’s spread-the-floor-and-fling-it-around modus operandi.
But Coach K went with Irving, and the gap between he and Wall isn’t as big as I’d like it to be. C’est la vie. As for Bradley Beal, well, sweet Brad had the added difficulty of fighting an uphill battle against point guards like Curry who the team is willing to slide over to the 2-spot, and 3s like Parsons and Korver who do the same. Like Wall, Beal may be “too pure” for Coach K’s blood. The kid acquitted himself well, though. And he’s only 21. When I was 21, my greatest victory was discovering the identity of the username on my college network that hosted all the pornography via an improbably misplaced poem in his shared K: drive regarding acne of the rear end.
[Bradley Beal on his long deuce, USA basketball style.]
Flip, John & Sam
2) Looks like Sam Cassell is heading to the Clippers.
What was your initial reaction and do you have a favorite Cassell memory while he was with the Wizards?
Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace):
My initial reaction was disappointment but it makes perfect sense. The Doc Rivers coaching tree has a lot more branches than Wittman’s. Add in the fact that Cassell is reportedly getting a huge pay increase and it’s not hard to see why he is jumping coasts.
My favorite Cassell memory is watching him patrol the sidelines during summer league games barking at anyone who will listen. Cassell was the most animated coach each year in Vegas. He doled out discipline when it was warranted but always ended with encouragement. I imagine his energy will be missed at Wizards practices.
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):
This could be totally off base, but I felt like deep down, Sam Cassell was hoping and wishing that his first head coaching job would come with the Wizards. That’s not to say he rooted against Flip Saunders or Randy Wittman, but when one was fired and the other floundered out of the gate, it wasn’t a huge stretch to think that he might be upgraded to that head coaching position. He had a great rapport with the players, he wasn’t afraid to yell and be forceful when necessary, and as his most recent summer league coaching stint proved he had the chops to be a successful head coach. [Ed. Note: While Cassell might have been considered had Wittman been fired, Don Newman has technically been Wittman's lead assistant coach since he joined the Wizards in the summer of 2012. —KW]
However, as the Wizards matured and progressed this season, Cassell saw his chances to coach the Wizards slip away, and the final nail in that coffin was Wittman’s contract extension in June. If reports are true, Cassell will be receiving a huge pay boost to sit with the great Doc Rivers (Coach Wittman’s teammate from their Atlanta Hawks days), and to fill a void on the Clippers bench left by Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry.
I will miss watching Cassell’s pregame routine. He seemed to know every coach and player on every NBA team, and he shook each and every one of their hands like he was the president walking around before the State of the Union address. In between handshakes, he would implore Wall, Beal, or whomever he was running a shooting drill for, to shoot better and work harder. When he got tired of talking, he’d grab the ball, and put on a bit of a shooting exhibition himself just to let the pregame audience know who he was. There wasn’t a lot of personality on the Wizards’ coaching staff and even though Cassell could not officially talk to the media, he still managed to flash that gregariousness just enough for me to know that I’ll miss it this season.
Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):
I’m tore up! Sam and I have a few assumed differences in philosophy regarding the volume of midrange jumpers his young wards have taken, but as Kyle noted in his piece about Cassell’s departure, Sam was the intermediary between the coaching staff and the players, the coach who was young enough to have been on those damn kids’ television screens when they were growing up. It’s also worth noting that Wall and Beal are, for better or worse, the prospects who have developed the most with the Wizards after being drafted by the Wizards since … shit, help me out here. “My guards,” as Cassell was fond of saying, are an ongoing success story. Meanwhile, Washington’s big man development (Seraphin, Booker, Vesely) hasn’t been nearly as promising, even providing for less starting talent.
My favorite Cassell memories are watching he and Wall go at it near the rim in years past before games, with Wall flexing on made baskets. It’s telling, I think, that it was something to celebrate. Sam will be missed.
[Continued #KSlife, via Vine.]
3) Does retaining Kevin Seraphin for the $3.89 million QO make more sense now than it did when first announced?
You may factor in that Nene is playing for Brazil this summer, or even that Drew Gooden might play for Finland, or that Seraphin’s development over four seasons has been a disappointment, or that the Wizards would probably only had the vet’s minimum as an option for replacement, or etc.
Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace):
No. Even if the stars align and Seraphin finally has a breakout year, Washington will have no advantage in retaining him next off-season. That’s because Seraphin will become an unrestricted free agent after playing out his one-year qualifying offer. So, even if Seraphin pans out, Washington will have to overpay to keep him long-term.
If Washington’s front office truly believed in Seraphin’s long-term potential, they should have passed on the qualifying offer (thus making Seraphin an unrestricted free agent this off-season) and attempted to sign him to a two-year deal – or a three-year deal with a team option – for much less annual salary. Sure, there would be a risk that another team might outbid Washington. But I would much rather bid for Seraphin’s services now when his value is at an all-time low than next summer after he shows signs of improvement.
Of course, maybe I just answered my own question. Maybe Washington chose to give Seraphin one last shot on a one-year qualifying offer because they are not too confident that he will prove worthy of a longer commitment.
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):
No. If this were Trevor Booker we were discussing, I’d certainly understand the move, given Booker’s performances late last season. Seraphin has been given plenty of chances to distinguish himself as a valued member of the Wizards front court off the bench, and similar to Booker, and former Wizard Jan Vesely, there wasn’t enough sustained excellence. Now Seraphin has even more of an uphill climb with Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair joining Drew Gooden as players who will most likely play in front of him.
Best case scenario? Injuries force Seraphin into the rotation, he finally puts all the moving parts of his game together, and he forces the Wizards to overpay him next summer. Worse case? He becomes the Mateen Cleaves of the Wizards, quietly slips out of town and struggles to find an NBA roster next year. The latter scenario seems the most likely.
Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):
No. This was dumb when it was announced, and it’s not looking any sweeter now. The Wizards needed a wing defender, even after signing Pierce, not a sixth big man. Seraphin will be paid handsomely to be next season’s Chris Singleton. After a nice run just after JaVale McGee was traded, Seraphin has gotten worse in the two subsequent campaigns. And it’s the same issues he’s always had: no rebounding, no free throw shooting, and an inability to learn how to pass out of a double-team. The book is so out on Seraphin that teams don’t even hesitate to swarm him when he catches the ball anymore. The fact that he can shoot from almost anywhere inside 18 feet has long been his life preserver, but it’s not enough. Taking on a second-round pick (in a world where the Wizards had one) or an undrafted rookie, or convincing a veteran like Dahntay Jones or (long shot) Shawn Marion to sign at the minimum … all of these would have been preferable.
When Seraphin was presented with the qualifying offer, many excused it as a strategic choice. Necessary insurance for Marcin Gortat lest he sign elsewhere, and the ability to rescind the qualifying offer to Seraphin should Gortat sign with the Wizards. Then Gortat signed, and the offer wasn’t rescinded. Then the Wizards picked up Humphries, and Blair, and the offer wasn’t rescinded. Drew Gooden re-signed. Maybe the Wizards would have rescinded it had they been able to retain Trevor Booker. But they didn’t retain Trevor Booker. Dommage, si triste.
[And more into the mind of Kevin Seraphin, via Vine.]
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