Team USA Report: Kyrie talks LeBron, point-guard battle
Kyrie Irving knows he’ll have to answer plenty of questions about LeBron James. And Irving admits it’s taking some adjusting.
But when it comes to talking about the Cavaliers’ new superstar, Irving almost always answers with a smile. Almost.
"I feel great about it," Irving said of James’ decision to join the Cavs in free agency. "The excitement has kind of died down because I’m getting asked this question a whole bunch. I can’t smile anymore when I say I’m pretty happy. I’m ecstatic just to be playing with him."
Irving was speaking at Team USA training camp in Las Vegas — where he is fighting for a spot on the 12-man roster. The U.S. will compete in the FIBA World Cup in Spain at the end of August.
There are 19 players in camp, including five point guards. Along with Irving, John Wall (Wizards), Derrick Rose (Bulls), Stephen Curry (Warriors) and Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers) are point guards in USA camp. It’s unclear, at this point, who will stick.
"What we have to determine at some point is how many point guards can you carry," said Team USA director Jerry Colangelo.
Irving is entering his fourth NBA season, and his first after being selected MVP of the All-Star Game. He played for USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski for one season at Duke.
"Obviously we stayed in contact over the last three years since I left," Irving said. "I look up to him and he’s like a mentor to me. I have tremendous amount of respect for the things that he does; not only for USA Basketball but as a man and what he has accomplished."
But regardless of what happens with Team USA, Irving and the Cavs have high expectations after adding the likes of James, a two-time champion with the Heat and four-time league MVP.
"Like I said, he’s the greatest player coming back home," Irving said. "I feel like we are going in the right direction."
— Curry said the players haven’t really been clued in on who might make the final roster. "Coach K never really gives those hints away," Curry said. "I’m not sure even he knows."
— Irving put the backcourt competition another way. "We all come together for one goal," he said, "and that’s gold."
— Team USA will hold a public scrimmage Friday on the campus of UNLV. The squad has conducted numerous private intra-squad scrimmages as well as scrimmages against the Select Team during the first four days of practice.
— Kevin Durant (Thunder), Paul George (Pacers) and James Harden (Rockets) took turns rotating in a game of one-on-one-on-one Wednesday.
— USA guard Bradley Beal (Wizards) on adjustments to international rules: "I think the biggest difference is there’s no defensive three seconds. It’s very physical and the 3-point line is shorter. Just in terms of knowing that you could be in help-side and not have to clear the lane. You can stand there as long as you want. And on top of that, you can knock a ball off a rim until it hits the rim."
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