EURO-NBA: Where Luol Deng definitely won the trade

Luol Deng is no longer a Bull but he wasn’t going to be at the end of the season anyway. The move to Cleveland gives the Great Britain international more control over his future.
Two words. Two words give Luol Deng reason to be happy with his situation: Kyrie Irving. Deng has gone from being a player who would get dumped by Chicago in the summer to one with far more influence come the end of the season.

The Cavaliers know they made a meal and then some of their efforts to keep LeBron James happy but they never gave him a bona fide second option to work with. In acquiring Deng, effectively on a rental, and cashing in some picks in the process they are sending a message to Irving that they won’t err the same way with the point guard. This isn’t exactly putting Pippen with Jordan but it serves a role almost as vital, in spite if the talent disparity. The Cavs took a punt on Andrew Bynum, it didn’t work, so they moved fast to ensure their star didn’t get needy.

In the process they gave Deng, an All Star a few seasons back, the one thing he really lacked this summer. A home option. The Team GB star was going to be an attractive option in the free agent market but he would be going up against a market loaded with top end talent. Now Deng will enter the summer, irrespective of how Cleveland’s season ends, knowing there’s at least one team in greater need of him than he is of their courtship. The Cavs zre desperate not to make the mistakes they made with LeBron with Irving. They are also desperate not to look desperate.

This is a situation where it behooves the Cavs to make Luol Deng happy quickly because the sooner he gets locked down, the lower the risk of Irving getting angsty. It’s about the long game with Irving. The Cavs don’t want to give him a reason to ever be needy, to ever be demanding. Take care of business, get your house in order, and keep it that way. That is how your maintain control in a front office, by never giving a player reasons to want it. For examples of how to best succeed with this strategy see Spurs, San Antonio.

Everyone’s trying to call which way this trade went. Deng is the only certifiable winner here but long-term, the shuffling of assets may actually benefit both the Cavs and the Bulls. For Britain’s best baller, that’s at most a secondary concern.


Irish select coach Mark Keenan plotting another upset

Sunday sees the best ballers in Ireland head to the UK to try and pull off a big upset over their compatriots in the British Basketball League (BBL) for the second year straight. Emmet Ryan spoke with Mark Keenan, coach of the Irish Men’s Premier Select Team (MPSL), about their quest for glory in Birmingham.

Mark Keenan became a big deal just as Irish basketball entered its dark age, well the first as it was punctuated by a turn of the century revival, as he led an all-conquering St Vincent’s team to national cup and league success in the early 90s. Here was this 5’6″ nobody playing a vital role on the best team in the game as far as Irish viewers were concerned. Since hanging up his kicks, Keenan has enjoyed similar success as a coach. Last season he coached UL Eagles to the league title and a losing appearance in the cup final. Keenan was also the man in charge when an unfancied selection from the Irish league topped a BBL select team just hours before the BBL Cup Final.

Keenan’s back again with a squad containing just four members of that victorious roster. They head to Birmingham this weekend looking to build on a rout of a Welsh selection earlier this season. With no national team to aim for, this is the peak for many Irish players. Rare as the opportunity to play an international, even a quasi one, is the realities of life have somewhat stymied preparations. Of tbe 29 players invited to camp, only 17 could make themselves available for the weekend commitment in Birmingham. With the national cup semi finals on Friday night, many of the amateur outfit couldn’t commit the extra time off work or away from their families. Keenan however is confident in the 12 man roster he has. Now there’s just the small matter of preparing for an opponent of who they know little.

“We had to do some homework. Last we I watched a lot of BBL games on TV, as much as I could. With players I wasn’t familiar with, I bounced them off Colin O’Reilly an Irish player who played in the BBL. I’ve taken a similar approach this year watching them online and Colin’s helped out again with the players I haven’t seen too much of,” Keenan told Ballineurope.com.
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Podcast: Talking international hoops with GB U20s coach Douglas Leichner, SellOutXBoy

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #45 of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes.

This week we’re talking (mostly) international competitions, though Hein does get off a good rant (well, as ranty as the guy gets) on FC Bayern Munich’s apparent moves to sop up all available talent from the BBL, while BallinEurope is in shock and awe over FC Barcelona’s acquisition of Bostjan Nachbar – seriously, just look at this roster.

*Then* we’re on to international competitions. First up in guesting to the show is the tweeter known as SellOutXBoy to explain just what in the name of Naismith is going on with the Russian national program in the wake of the shock firing/quitting/dismissal of national team head coach Fotis Katsikaris as well as the departure of federation president Alexander Krasnenkov. Believe it or not, it’s political. And possibly bleak.

Also joining us is Douglas Leichner, head coach of the U20s Team Britain; Leichner’s young charges ended up taking second place on the podium in the Division B side of the U20 European Championship and thus will move up to the top level for next year. Among other topics, Leichner touches upon Britain’s own Golden Generation of players…

Finally, there’s the sports movie review of the week. Check out the clip below, sort of a teaser-trailer for Mystic Ball, a 2006 documentary about Greg Hamilton of Canada and his attempts to learn the national pastime of Myanmar, Chinlone. In short the game can be described as a ball sport with only one team on the playing field at one time – and with no scorekeeping.

Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/ into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.

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Yes! ACB releases new Pops Mensah-Bonsu highlight video!

It’s about time we got a fresh Pops Mensah-Bonsu highlight video … On the happy occasion of Pops’ return to European courts with Cajasol Sevilla for the final six games of the season, the Liga Endesa official website reminds us of Pops’ great moments on Spanish hardwood during stints with CB Granada and DKV Joventut Badalona in 2008.

The BallinEurope fave hasn’t seen action since the summer due to a knee injury taking him out of the 2012 Olympic Games just after finishing 2012-13 in fantastic fashion with Beşiktaş.

Video of representative hops by Pops (plus the occasional nice play on defense) runs below…

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Euroleague release Final Four logo, promo spot

Anyone else ready for London? The Euroleague front office and PR folks are closer today with the release of the official Final Four logo – not to mention a new promotional spot. And here it is:

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NBA announces Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers visits to Europe in October

Right, then. Start calling up that calendar for October because the NBA has announced that two teams from the big league will be coming to Europe (presumably as part of the 2014 NBA Europe Live tour), with another six heading to other continents. From the NBA and Associated Press, the schedule looks like the following.

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Luol Deng to David Cameron: “Basketball is too valuable to be chucked away”

Luol DengLess than a year after endless wrangling with FIBA and the International Olympic Committee to get Team Britain into the 2012 Olympic Games, governing body UK Sport seems fit to impart some slashing of the national basketball budget – this despite pressure from FIBA going into the London Games that an automatic bid for the men’s national team would be granted only with assurances that British basketball had some viable future.

An eleventh-hour debate on the basketball-funding question is slated for tonight and will be led by Conservative Party MP Stephen Mosley; an online petition created by Sam Neter of Britian-based Hoops Fix self-explanatorily called “Get UK Sport to Fund British Basketball” has over 11,650 “signatures” as of this writing.

Perhaps no one is taking the upcoming cuts more seriously than Chicago Bulls/Team Britain star Luol Deng, however. Deng today fired off a 1½-page open letter to British prime minister David Cameron in hopes of essentially saving the national program in the runup to the 2016 Olympics; the just-this-side-of-vitriolic text runs below.

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BBL Wrap: Durham-Newcastle rivalry continues; resurrected Heat roll; Cheshire Jets still slumping

From Britain, Sam Chadwick brings us a wrapup of BBL action over a weekend which saw the BBL Championship continue while the Glasgow Rocks and Manchester Giants battled it out to advance to the BBL Cup Quarter Finals…

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British Basketball weekly wrap: Jeremy Bell goes for 40; Manchester, Surrey already 2-0

(Jeremy Bell image courtesy Plymouth Raiders basketball)Along with many other domestic leagues, Britain’s BBL is underway, and BallinEurope’s agent over there/ProspectsInEurope editor Sam Chadwick rounds things up for us.

Welcome to the first British Basketball League Wrap of the 2012/13 season with a nice new lay-out. Some of you may have noticed newcomers to the league Manchester Giants as well as recently names Surrey Heat and London Lions; these two franchises take on from The Guildford Heat and MK Lions. The changes have come about for different reasons, as the Heat wanted to expand their fan base across Surrey while the Lions failed to secure a venue in Milton Keynes and were presented with an opportunity to move to the country’s capital.

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2012 Olympic Basketball: Official Fearless Predictions™ for games five (well, most of ‘em, anyway)

BallinEurope will have something on the marquee Olympic basketball games – namely, Team USA vs. Argentina and Spain vs. Brazil – later today, but once again wanted to post the Official Fearless Predictions™ before early games tip off.

Having already clinched the top spot in Group B, Russia will likely go deep into the bench, and, whoa is that bench deep indeed. BiE says resting Russia nips Australia in the teams’ third meeting of the summer. The oddsmakers give Russia a 7½ point handicap for this one; the final result may even be closer. On paper.

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