Team USA on Donaghy

July, 20, 2007
07/20/07
10:44
PM ET
Members of Team USA were told Friday by NBA officials to steer clear of answering any questions related to the Tim Donaghy scandal, but not everyone heeded that missive.

I asked LeBron James whether he thought the Donaghy scandal could end up being more harmful to the NBA than the infamous Palace brawl of 2004, and he answered: "I'm not sure. I'm not one to ask. You have to go out on the streets and ask fans of the game whether it was worse than the brawl. I'm not quite sure."

Another reporter asked James if he was disgusted.

"It's a very sensitive matter right now, and the NBA is taking all precautions and doing everything they can to try to make it right, and as a player I just have to sit back and wait and see what happens. But as a competitor, as hard as I play, it is disappointing, definitely."

Chris Bosh said the Donaghy investigation was not a huge topic of conversation among the players, who were alerted to it by USA Basketball officials prior to the first practice of their three-day minicamp.

"Nah, they brought it to us and advised us not to talk about it. But we've been talking about basketball, winning this tournament, jelling as a team, what kind of offense we're going to run. We don't really focus too much on outside things. We're just enjoying each other's company, trying to get to know each other better and becoming a unit."

Said Dwight Howard: "You can't really control that. The only thing I control is how hard I play on the court and how hard my team plays. So if we do our job as a team, we won't have to worry about point shaving and stuff like that.

***

As is my custom with new members of Team USA, I threw the Sheridan pop quiz at Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams, and neither of them passed.

Longtime readers of my columns and blogs already know the question -- How do you call timeout under FIBA rules? -- and the answer -- You can't. Only coaches can call timeouts.

In the past, most players have answered by giving some variation of the standard timeout signal, but Billups and Williams both professed ignorance and answered "I don't know."

Upon hearing the answer, Williams scolded himself because he has played for USAB twice in the past, once on an under-19 national squad, the other time on a junior U.S. national team.

Williams said he also was surprised to learn that the game is divided into four 10-minute quarters under international rules, because he remembered it being two 20-minute halves. He seemed reassured when I told him that his memory was not failing him, as FIBA only switched from two halves to four quarters a couple years ago.

***

In between covering Donaghy and Kobe today, I was able to glean one small piece of information regarding the trade the Phoenix Suns made with Seattle earlier Friday, sending Kurt Thomas and two future No. 1 picks to the Sonics in exchange for the second-round pick the Sonics acquired last week from Orlando in the Rashard Lewis sign-and-trade deal.

Turns out neither of the No. 1 picks the Suns surrendered has any lottery protection, which could make the 2010 draft pick especially valuable if the Suns' fortunes take a precipitous fall by then. The scuttlebutt around the league was that Phoenix GM Steve Kerr made the deal as the precursor to another deal, which he will make using the $8.092 million trade exception he acquired from the Sonics.

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