World Cup Rumors
Some players from the Philadelphia 76ers visited you last summer when you were playing with Croatia at the World Cup in Spain. How did that feel? Dario Saric: That meant so much to me. Three top players came to Spain to support me and support my team. The coach (Brett Brown) came too. It was a big thing for me that people from the team that selected me came to support me, that they had my back like that. It made playing easier for me and didn’t feel any additional pressure.
After missing last year’s FIBA World Cup after undergoing offseason rotator cuff surgery, Spurs guard Patty Mills says he plans to resume work with the Australian national team in this summer’s Olympic qualifier. “It was rough sitting out last year,” Mills said. “It was a major tournament, and it was hard knowing that I wasn’t there. Having sat out last year, I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing with the guys.”
Adam Silver: @wardell30, @jharden13 & @boogiecousins receive their @usabasketball @FIBA World Cup Championship rings from USAB Managing Director Jerry Colangelo at #NBAAllStarNYC Practice at @madisonsquaregarden.
After a long pause, Thompson told Duffy, “No, I made a commitment, I’m going to stay.” And that was it. Thompson was staying with Team USA. “That’s how Klay is,” Duffy said. “He is a quiet guy, but he is smart. You present him with the facts and he thinks about it for five or 10 minutes, he absorbs it and makes a decision. And then it’s just, ‘OK, let’s roll with this.’ ”
Thompson was on his rookie contract in Golden State, but up for a sizable extension. A George-like injury would not only throw into peril his upcoming season, but jeopardize his family’s financial security. Thompson called Bill Duffy, his agent. Duffy told him he did not have to keep playing, that director Jerry Colangelo had always allowed Team USA players to ask out a tournament because of contractual concerns. Already, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant had rescinded on promises to play for the World Cup, and Colangelo had given them nothing but blessings.
And so Batum went for 35 and 27 points in the final two games of the World Cup to give France the bronze medal, and he noticed his Portland teammates urging him in training camp: Shoot, Nic. Shoot. “I try to do everything on the court, but I know I got to be more aggressive,” Batum told RealGM. “The team needs it. Everybody’s pushing me here. When Tony Parker didn’t play with us this summer, Boris Diaw and I had to step up our games. That was a cool learning experience for me. Here, we’re all young and I would like to be the guy for LaMarcus and Damian. I would like that a lot. But I know I need to be aggressive, and it is coming.”
The United States team may be going to Qatar to defend its basketball World Cup title in 2019 as the emirate seeks to add to its sports portfolio. Qatar is among six bidders to host one of the tournament’s next two editions, in 2019 or 2023, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said Thursday. China, Germany, the Philippines and Turkey also want to host one of the events. Germany may bid alone or with France.
In early September, months after the last N.B.A. season had ended, Mike Conley tuned in to watch the FIBA Basketball World Cup on television. He saw someone with a resemblance to his Memphis Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol: same bushy beard, same stern game face and same backward shuffle down the court after shooting a jumper from just beyond the free-throw line. Except that this player was much thinner. “I was like, Man, that can’t be Marc,” said Conley, the Grizzlies’ point guard. “It looks like he lost 50 pounds.”
Adam Silver: “I realize you can’t just take the existing 82 game schedule, regular season plus playoffs then just plop another tournament down on top of it. I think you’d have to take a serious look at the All-Star break if it were a midseason tournament, the game itself, events around All-Star, but conceivably what a midseason tournament could look like is some number of teams, you could either begin with all the teams and have a single-elimination tournament, it’s another area where through floating the idea, I’ve gotten some really interesting suggestions. It may be an opportunity to bring in international clubs, there’s been talk about the NBA sponsoring a world championship, of course there’s a world cup now which the United States participates in, but for the NBA, club championships are very different. We, I and others at the league office have studied the champions league for European soccer. They have other types of cups and midseason tournaments.
Considering your multiethnic upbringing, what are some ways in which you look at this country differently than other players? Joakim Noah: Coming from different backgrounds, I never got patriotism. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I loved the World Cup, and seeing everybody from different countries get excited, but I just don’t have that kind of pride.
Fewer scouts watch international games than NCAA games, making these exhibitions especially important to international players. In fact, a slew of athletes turned their performances this summer in the FIBA World Cup into NBA interest. These games are especially vital for Americans who found playing time abroad after being unable to make the leap into the NBA. Case in point: Alba Berlin’s game-winner against the Spurs came from James McLean, a forward from Xavier.
Thompson is holding opponents to shooting an abysmal 35.8 percent from the field and forcing a turnover at a rate of 11.3 percent. With his length, mobility, and desire to win every play, Thompson has the mold to become a lock-down wing defender for years to come.
Going even more in depth, when Thompson drives to the left in isolation situations (which he does 80.2 percent of his iso attacks) he is either heavily settling for a pull up jumper (48.2 percent of the time) of the time and shooting a lackluster 27.3 percent off the bounce; 33.8 percent of the time he is attempting to finish at the rim (an area he is increasingly improving at and showed great progress at the World Cup in Spain) but isn’t converting at much greater of a success rate (41.7 percent). What sticks out to me is the lack of in-between game, the floater, in which he only attempts 7.5 percent of the time he puts the ball on the floor.
Aldridge turned down a chance to play with the U.S. national team, and it wasn’t the first time. This time, he said, he wanted to make he didn’t suffer an injury — as happened with Indiana’s Paul George — that might keep him from achieving his goal of helping the Blazers go deep in the playoffs. “It was about my personal preference,” Aldridge said. “Having a big season coming up, I didn’t want to risk anything crazy out there. “I was disappointed to not be in that group. I wanted to be a part of that group for a long time. Things keep coming up. This time, the major part was me and my agent and (officials from) my team sat down, and we felt like we didn’t want to take that risk right now.”
Is Andre Iguodala on your list for this season, for what happened this summer? (Iguodala poked fun at New Zealand traditional pregame dance – the haka – during the FIBA World Cup, Adams seemingly took offense on Twitter, saying “@andre, show some respect for my culture.”) Steven Adams: Oh, he’s alright. He’s all good. I just read (Iguodala’s comments) in the morning and it kinda got to me. It wasn’t like anything bad or anything. It was just misinformed, I guess. I knew he meant it not to downplay New Zealand. I just thought differently about it. Hopefully he come down to New Zealand. He’s still a good dude.
“I love Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) and (program director) Mr. (Jerry) Colangelo, because they understood everything. I didn’t want it to overshadow what they were doing, so that’s why I kind of felt bad about it. But at the same time, I knew I had to do it for myself, and this was one of the first decisions basketball-wise that was like, ‘All right, this is just for me. I’m worried about me right now. I was a little selfish, and sometimes that makes people, it made a lot of people, uncomfortable.” And to those who don’t agree or understand? “Seriously, to be honest, I was like ‘(expletive) ’em.’ You can write that, too. Seriously, though. I’m just going to be me, man, and that’s how I felt. “I was happy I took the hits, like, ‘All right, that’s going to teach me to be strong and not worry about what everybody has got to say.’ I heard it all — ‘you don’t care about your country’ to ‘you’re soft’ to all of that. Well I don’t care. These people don’t know me. They don’t know the work I’ve put in. They don’t know that I’ve done (the FIBA tournament) before, so it made me stronger.”
Gone is the gangly youngster. In his place is a sometimes snarling shot-blocker, a serious deterrent to guards and forwards with the audacity to drive into the paint. Will the Jazz benefit from their young center’s seeming improvement? Gobert certainly thinks so. “I feel way more confident than I did last season,” he said. “I feel like I can help my team win. I feel like I can make a defensive impact, and help the team maintain. I was motivated to play in the World Cup. We had a good run and we finished high. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
In the middle of the U.S. team’s run in Spain, Williams described Davis, now 21, as “the lead dog among alpha dogs,” a portrayal not at all hyperbolic. “I couldn’t tell you the place or the timing of it all,” said Williams, who showed off his own gold medal on Wednesday, “but over the period from Vegas to Madrid, I just watched him watch other people. “He was around a former MVP (Derrick Rose). He watched (James) Harden. People don’t know how hard Harden works. I think A.D. was able to watch him work an hour or two hours before practice with his trainer and then come to practice. I think that had an impact on him. The great ones do more. I think he looked at that, and our after- practice workouts when he and I got going, I think that had an impact on him just watching those guys.”
“I went back to the hospital the next day secretly. ESPN had cameras in front of the hospital. We were able to go through the back and go in. I spent a half hour with Paul, his mom, dad, two sisters, a couple of friends and his girlfriend. There was an emotional moment during it. I did not take any pictures. I did not know a picture was taken. I think his sister took a picture and she tweeted it because it was an emotional scene. “To say that I orchestrated that and used Paul George to show that I was a good guy is really wrong. For anybody to think that, if you want to think that, then you are a bad person.”
Unprompted, Krzyzewski brought up the columnist’s insinuation that Krzyzewski had arranged for someone to take a photograph of Krzyzewski embracing an injured Paul George in George’s hospital room — to both deflect attention from the NBA “losing a $100 million star in a worthless scrimmage” and “for all those moms and dads to see the compassion and caring of Duke’s coach.” Unprompted, Krzyzewski explained what had happened leading up to that photo. “That was a really bad thing, to bring up Paul George,” Krzyzewski said. “After he was injured, USA Basketball was in the trauma room — me, Jerry (Colangelo), a bunch of NBA people and whatever. There were too many people there, so they asked for only the family and the doctors. We went back. A few of the people from USA Basketball left that morning. I was staying with my family for a couple of days.