Friday Five: Cousins' best chance to shine for Team USA

Friday Five: Cousins' best chance to shine for Team USA
August 1, 2014, 10:45 am
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Reports are circulating that DeMarcus Cousins will not make Team USA's roster. (USATSI)

The Kevin Love saga drags on. There is no update. The Cavaliers are holding a huge lead. Everybody else, including the Warriors, is on the brink of conceding.

Yet other storylines simmer and percolate. Always do in the NBA. We'll spend each Friday between now and training camp dipping into five topics germane to the Warriors or the NBA in general.

Welcome to the Friday Five, Part II.

1) Oh, Byron.

The Lakers finally got around to hiring a coach, giving the job to former Lakers player Byron Scott after what seemed like a 20-year wait. Scott brings credentials – he's taken two teams to the NBA Finals – so the hire will be judged in due time.

Scott spent much of his introductory news conference talking about the franchise's lofty place in NBA history. The Lakers have spent the past half century has the league's most consistent contender.

[NEWS: New Lakers coach Scott: 'I love challenges']

Unfortunately, the Lakers are coming off a 27-win season, the worst of their 54 seasons in Los Angeles. They've lost two world-class big men, Dwight Howard last summer and Paul Gasol last month. And, yikes, they're hoping to be rescued by 36-year-old Kobe Bryant.

Congratulations, B. With your team battling the Kings for the right to be the worst of California's four teams, you're going to need a lot of luck.

2) Oh, Boogie.

DeMarcus Cousins has spent the summer on a mission to shed his old skin in hopes of presenting a more mature face. It apparently has not gone as well as he'd like.

The Kings center, conceivably the most offensively gifted big man in the NBA, has not yet convinced Team USA honchos of his evolution. Coach Mike Krzyzewski raves about Anthony Davis and seems to like Andre Drummond as the backup. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reports that the Nets' Mason Plumlee – summoned Wednesday from the subordinate Select Team – may slide past Cousins on the depth chart.

[RELATED: Is Cousins the big man Team USA can lean on?]

Cousins' best, and maybe last, chance to shine may come Friday night, when he and Plumlee will be on opposite sides in the Blue-White intrasquad game. Team USA Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and Krzyzewski will be watching like hawks, wondering if they can trust Boogie on the international stage.

3) Is The Glove ready to move from the booth to the bench?

NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton, a product of Oakland's Skyline High School, still has his radio gig. But that could end any day now.

Six months after telling me he wanted no part of coaching, Payton now says he's "thinking about it." There are at least two reasons. Longtime friend Jason Kidd is trying to coax him to join the Bucks. And Scott reportedly is interested in GP becoming an assistant with the Lakers.

I'm giving the edge to the Bucks, partly because Kidd once played youth hoops on a team coached by none other than Al "Mr. Mean" Payton – Gary's father.

4) Give it up for Mack, which some refer to as McClymonds.

The west Oakland high school, which counts Bill Russell and Frank Robinson and Paul Silas among its alumni, is afflicted with countless ills, including steadily declining enrollment. Will Cherry is the last proof that Pride has not evaporated.

After a terrific career at Mack, Cherry left in 2009 for the dramatically different environment of the University of Montana. The 6-foot point guard, a four-year starter, went undrafted in 2013 and hooked up with the D-League Canton Charge.

Well, Cherry was so impressive at the Las Vegas Summer League that the Raptors reportedly have agreed to sign him to a two-year contract. Go get 'em, Will.

[RELATED: Patterson hopes Raptors can continue winning]

5) Why no one can truly hate Charles Barkley, Reason No. 384.

He has been known to get into trouble in bars, constantly fires off outrageous and provocative opinions. He tortures the language. His golf swing is a stain on society.

But Chuck is that exceedingly rare American who can get away with practically anything because we sense he is a jewel of a man, with a heart of gold.

The latest example came this week, when Barkley, a former 76ers star, offered to pay for the funerals for three siblings killed in the wake of a carjacking last week in Philadelphia.

In an age when humanity creeps closer to robots, Barkley remains refreshingly real.

 

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