NBA rumors: Pau Gasol in Spain's preliminary team for Tokyo Olympics

Pau Gasol was named by Spain to the preliminary list of players set to start training camp ahead of the Olympic Games. His brother, Marc Gasol, is also among the 18 players called up by head coach Sergio Scariolo. Ricky Rubio, Juan Hernangomez, and Willy Hernangomez are the remaining NBA players on the list.

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Michael Grange: Some interesting names on and not on the 24-player list @CanBball has submitted to FIBA in advance of the Olympic qualifier. Among the NBA contingent expected to be there: Nickeil Walker-Alexander; RJ Barrett; Lu Dort, Cory Joseph; Trey Lyles; Mychal Mulder; Dwight Powell and Andrew Wiggins. Dillon Brooks and Oshae Brissett are on the list, but -- as reported yesterday -- are not playing at the OQT. Among the NBA crowd expected to be there but not on the list: Kelly Olynyk, Khem Birch and -- as reported yesterday -- Tristan Thompson. Olynyk and Birch are pending free agents. The rest are holdovers from the original list: Anthony Bennett; Andrew Nembhard; Melvin Ejim; Aaron Doornekamp; Kyle Alexander; Trae Bell-Haynes and Andrew Nicholson. Also one name neglected to mention, Isiaha Mike, a pro in Europe.
Blake Murphy: Oh, Brandon Clarke is also not on the list. And as noted earlier, Kaza Keane is in. Again, nothing official, just sorting through the paperwork side ahead of camp open.
Marc Stein: Doncic spoke at a Slovenian NT press conference before an exhibition in his home city of Ljubljana. As for Tokyo, Doncic told @NYTSports : "I enjoy playing basketball. I was one week without playing and I was missing basketball. I'm ready and I hope we qualify for the Olympics."
Michael Singer: The Nuggets support Nikola Jokic's Olympic decision either way, but the team has real (& valid) concerns about his rest & recovery this summer, per source. Since start of the Bubble on Aug. 1st, he's played 109 of 109 poss. games & finished 3rd in total mins (2488) this season.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green are among the initial commitments to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, sources tell The Athletic. Lillard, who turns 31 on July 15, will be playing in his first Olympics after dropping out of consideration for the 2016 Rio Games, where the U.S. men's team won its third consecutive gold medal. Green, 31, was a part of the 2016 team, which finished the tournament 8-0.
A gold medal is one thing missing from his resume, but he said he has yet to make up his mind. He continues to look at the logistics of playing in Tokyo. He is curious to learn which other players are planning to go and to see how strong the team will be. “I’m literally 50-50,” he said of his decision. “I probably need to decide in the next two weeks.”
“This is such a unique year and unique circumstances that a lot of this stuff is out of our control,” said Colangelo, now 81, who will retire and be replaced by Grant Hill after these Olympics. “We believe from everything we know the Olympics are going to take place. It’s going to be under different circumstances.” No entourages, no spouses. “There won’t be any Americans sitting in the seats. No foreign visitors,” he said.
Nikola Mirotic will not be part of the Spain roster for the Olympic Games, barring a last-minute change, according to AS. Mirotic, 30, prefers to focus on his family after a complicated year at a personal level rather than following up the demanding season at the club level with the bubble expected for the Tokyo Games, notes the report. Perhaps FC Barcelona teammate and Spain legend, Pau Gasol, can change his mind but it seems the decision has been made.
Doncic said Monday he will travel to Slovenia soon to prepare for the upcoming qualifying tournament. The 22-year-old Doncic will be at least one of at least five Mavericks players who will be back on the court within weeks, aiming to lead their home countries to an Olympic berth in Tokyo this summer. “This is my main goal — qualifying Slovenia for the Olympics,” Doncic said. “I’m going to be heading back to Slovenia and starting practicing, so no vacation.”
On Monday, Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Green stated that he intends to play for Australia in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics set to begin on July 23 in Japan. He was among the 24 players listed as finalists to play with the Australian men’s basketball team. The roster, which also features the likes of Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, will be pared down to 12 players prior to the start of the Olympics. Green, who was born in Sydney, would be representing Australia for the first time in the Olympics if chosen. “I think my intentions will be to play for Australia,” Green said. “It has always been a dream of mine and also just from a developmental standpoint. Just being able to get games and feel more comfortable on the court, and be around guys like Ben, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills — guys like that who help me out and grow as a player. I’m really looking forward to it and the offseason in general.”
LeBron James was visibly gassed by the end of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 6 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Thursday. After the game, James said that he would not compete in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, admitting that a regular offseason was necessary. Instead, he referenced “Space Jam 2,” which will be released this summer.
“I think I’m going to play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics,” James said, via Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin. “We’re gonna gear up to beat the MonStars, or the Goon Squad, I guess they’re called now.”
Nigeria coach Mike Brown has confirmed to ESPN that he may be forced to pick two different teams in the coming two months, as the Olympics and Afrobasket tournaments are within two weeks of each other. The Afrobasket tournament starts in Rwanda on August 24, two weeks after the Olympics end in early August in Tokyo, which would trigger an NBA rule prohibiting Nigeria's players from too much international game time.
The availability of the NBA stars to their respective national teams has always been rather questionable and that is especially the case when the team goes deep into the playoffs or the player doesn’t have his contract status taken care of. Nemanja Bjelica will be in a peculiar situation this summer as his obligations towards the Miami Heat ended after the team got swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. According to Mozzart Sport, however, the Serbian star will travel to Belgrade soon and will without a doubt make himself available to coach Igor Kokoskov for the summer and the Olympic qualifiers.
Ira Winderman: Duncan Robinson says he has not yet considered Olympics amid impending free agency. Says no formal invitation to Olympics yet. "There's other variables at play."
The Tokyo Games will mark the first time 3x3 basketball will be staged at an Olympics, and the field is tight, with just eight countries winning berths. Team USA failed to earn an automatic berth in 2019 despite its World Cup victory because 3x3 Olympic spots are determined differently than in the 5x5 competition, where the World Cup champs gain automatic entry. FIBA, the international governing body of the sport, is saving one spot in Tokyo for countries that didn't have a 5x5 team qualify for the 2012 or 2016 Olympics as it tries to grow the game in countries that previously haven't exceled. But it made qualifying even tougher for Team USA. Joey King, who played at Minnesota, led Team USA Sunday with eight points in the loss (in 3x3, baskets are worth 1 point and shots behind the line are worth 2). King averaged a team-best 7.8 points per game.
Marc Stein: Today @CanBball announced its 21-man roster for 12 spots on the Nick Nurse-coached squad aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins is in, but injury has ruled out two of Canada’s best: Denver’s Jamal Murray and OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: pic.twitter.com/WUawCvYKLr

http://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/1397956406666575873
Brandon Rahbar: SGA announces he won’t be able to play with the Canadian national team this summer, which he was looking forward to. This should put an end to anyone accusing OKC of faking Shai’s injury for tanking purposes. Canada is still the odds on favorite to win the gold because Lu Dort. pic.twitter.com/gjOd8cOdC4

http://twitter.com/BrandonRahbar/status/1397951667769851907
Michael Grange: Chris Boucher wanted to focus on rehabbing sprained knee to make sure he was 100% healthy heading into 21-22, which is why he declined @CanBball invite, per sources. Boucher, 28, has 1yr left on a team option with Raptors for this coming season and a free agent in summer of ‘22.
“I’ll cut to the chase because people are asking me, ‘A lot of teams are out (of the playoffs) – are you going to get early commitments from certain people?’ ” Colangelo told USA TODAY. “That’s not the way we’re going to deal with this. We have interest in all of them. There’s a lot of variables, and so we’re going to do inventory after the first round. There’ll be a number of players who we have interest in that conceivably are available after the first round. There’s no rush because we have the flexibility.”
"It’s conceivable, there will be a few players who are competing in the Finals and want to participate and we want them to participate," Colangelo said. "But we don’t know who that’s going to be. We have to wait and see. That’s why we’ll take inventory after each round. It’s possible that we don’t end up with 12 in Las Vegas and we bring a couple of guys at the last minute."
This is Colangelo’s final Olympics. He will turn over the job to Grant Hill following Tokyo. “Grant Hill and I had a conversation a year ago,” Colangelo said. “I’ve known Grant pretty well for a long time. He expressed interest. He wanted me to know what his thinking was. I said, ‘Grant, I couldn’t think of anyone better to succeed me. You check all the boxes.’ I believe that. He’s a world-class guy. He’s bright. He knows the game. He’s well-connected. He’s well-respected. Enough said. He was the guy.”
It has been so draining that Rubio said he is still not sure if he will play for the Spanish national team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. That team means everything to Rubio and it could be his last chance to win a gold medal. But this has been such a grind that it’s still up in the air. “I’m burned out. Probably it’s a yes, but I owe my family time. I owe myself and my brain to really reset,” he said. “It’s not going to be a normal Olympics. I’m tired of getting tested every day. We haven’t had a day off with the family for six months. A little thing like putting that thing in your nose, it reminds you every day what’s going on in the world, that it’s not normal.”
Mario Hezonja will be included in the preliminary roster of the Croatian national team for the Olympic Qualifiers according to Sportske. If the report is confirmed, the Panathinaikos swingman will wear Croatia’s jersey for the first time since the 2016 Olympics.
Green, 31, a 2016 Gold medalist is still a first-team All-Defense player, though a source close to him raised doubts as to whether he’d play. Kevin Love of the Cavs is another Gold winner (2012 Olympics), but has suffered through the three worst seasons of his career. Pistons rising star Jerami Grant is a possibility.
Steph Curry didn't rule it out by any means, but the Warriors star remains unsure about whether he will be competing for Team USA in the postponed 2020 Olympics, set to begin later this summer. "Obviously everything was geared towards extending this season as far as possible, and honestly, I know there's a lot of conversation and chatter about logistics and the set up and all that type of stuff, I don't know what that looks like from Team USA, so trying to gather as much information as possible and make the right decision for me at the end of the day," Curry told reporters after Friday’s 117-112 season-ending loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
American officials are counting on anyone in the Finals being out for the Olympics, and players on the two teams that lose in conference finals would be pushing it. On top of all that, Olympic organizers in Japan are proceeding as though the COVID-19 vaccine does not exist. There is going to be frequent testing and restrictions on where athletes can go and what they can do when they aren’t playing. And they certainly cannot bring their families to the Games.
“That’s not our call, the Japanese government won’t allow it,” said Jim Tooley, chief executive officer for USA Basketball. “So will we do some sort of hybrid program in Vegas (during training camp) for family members.” If you’re sitting there thinking, “well, yes, but the other countries with NBA players on their rosters are in the same boat,” that’s true, except the Americans already had trouble recruiting stars to play for them in the last world tournament — the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Lithuania national team head coach Darius Maskoliunas announced the preliminary list of 15 players for the training camp ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament to be held in Kaunas between June 22 and July 4. Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis headline the list. The Memphis Grizzlies led by Valanciunas will begin the 2021 NBA Playoffs best-of-seven series versus the Utah Jazz on Sunday, while the Indiana Pacers and Sabonis failed to make it through the play-in tournament.
While there is no timeline on Turner’s return, it would be a stunner if we saw him again on the floor in the 2021 postseason—the Pacers have slogged their way into the NBA’s play-in tournament, losing their last two games and falling to No. 10 in the East. Turner still has hope he could return and play for Team USA in this summer’s Olympics, though, if they finally take place. “My foot is progressing and my rehab is going good,” Turner said. “Ideally, I want to be back with my team to finish the season and make a playoff push. But I am working on getting fully recovered because it's one of my goals to play this summer on Team USA. I trust the doctors and training staff to help me get back out there at 100%.”
Eric Koreen: Lowry says the opportunity to play for Team USA would always be "high on his list." If he gets call, it's something he'd strongly consider. Won't base his decision on who else plays.
Spanish Basketball Federation President Jorge Garbajosa announced that the national team will face off against Team USA in Las Vegas on July 18. The clash will be played out in the bubble as a part of the preparations for the 2021 Olympic Games which are scheduled to open just five days after the clash between the two top national teams in FIBA’s rankings.
“When our colleagues from the American Basketball Federation called me to express their interest in our national team participating in the bubble of Las Vegas, from his words I was able to get the acknowledgment of what our name represents – a team that makes the tournaments to which it is invited bigger. This is the best match that world basketball can program, the match between numbers 1 and 2 of the FIBA ​​World Ranking,” Garbajosa said.
Senegalese Basketball Federation announced a 16-players preliminary list for next month’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament the NT will play in Belgrade. The list includes NBA Players Tacko Fall, Gorgui Dieng and Georges Niang, alongside Baskonia star Pierría Henry, who received his passport a few months ago.
Spanish national team head coach Sergio Scariolo said that Pau Gasol will need to spend a certain amount of period playing competitive basketball to be fully ready to participate in the 2021 Olympic Games. “Obviously, being in Tokyo involves playing a few months of competition in a team,” Scariolo said in an interview with AS after the completion of the 2022 EuroBasket Qualifiers. Spain closed the February window with two wins vs. Poland and Israel to finish the stage with a qualifying record 4-2 in Group A.
JeffGSpursZone: DeRozan says he's hasn't thought much about playing with team USA, that he's trying to get through the season first #gospursgo
With NBA players expected to make up the core of all three teams and the league's playoffs scheduled to take place from May 22 to July 22, this concept would create an environment where players can limit travel and possible exposure to COVID-19 before going to Japan. Team USA is tentatively planning to open training camp the week of July 4, while the NBA playoffs are ongoing.
Spain, the reigning World Cup champions, have five current NBA players who have played on the national team in the past: Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Juancho Hernangomez and Willy Hernangomez. The Australians named their Olympic roster pool this week, and it has 10 current NBA players, including Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and Matisse Thybulle.
Team USA has asked to allow roster changes even during the Olympics as players may fly over late and join teams, Colangelo said. He is waiting to hear back from the governing bodies on the matter. "These are not normal times. Rosters by a certain date doesn't make any sense," Colangelo said. "What we're seeking is flexibility to substitute players very late and to get the best players on the court. It doesn't just apply to us but for all the countries." On Wednesday, the IOC released its first set of Games parameters, which said athletes were not required to be vaccinated or to quarantine on arrival but that they would have to undergo testing before embarking and upon arrival in Japan.
Most of the top American talent has signaled interest in playing at the Olympics, and also, players such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of Boston (who were on the 2019 team) are now among the best in the NBA. Colangelo said Team USA is continuing to hear of interest from the best the U.S. has to offer, with no whispers of anyone backing out, in part because it’s too early — who knows which teams are going to make deep playoff runs? The Americans are targeting a training camp starting about July 4 in Las Vegas.
The Spanish and Argentinians, who battled in the World Cup finals in Beijing, are both in group C. Fourth-place Australia is in group B. “The three Olympic preliminary groups appear well balanced, and there are a good number of teams who have legitimate shots at the gold medal in Tokyo, ” Popovich said in a news release. “It was a fair draw,” Colangelo said. “The bottom line — you’ve got to win your games. I said it then and I’ll say it now: Had we been healthy (in China), we would’ve won the whole thing. We owe the world after that one.”
Tim Reynolds: Tokyo Olympic men's groups: A: USA, France, qualifying winner from Victoria, Iran. B: Australia, Nigeria, qualifying winners from Belgrade and Split. C: Spain, Argentina, qualifying winner from Kaunas, Japan.
What's kind of the latest that you're hearing from different athletes around the NBA who who are whoever USA Basketball pedigree who've been with you in the past? Jerry Colangelo: Chris, I would say with rare exception, everyone has indicated they would participate. Now, what does that really mean? I mean, it's easy to say, yes, count me in at this particular point in time. But until we get much closer to, you know, the summer months, we're not going to know officially, but I will tell you one way we've protected ourselves: You know, I think we had like 42 on our national team roster, to give ourselves good coverage, we're actually increasing that number to close to 60. And it's just to be sure that everyone is following protocol, as far as the mandate from the Olympic group that they have to be in the drug program. They have to be they have to pass certain standards. And so we have a large pool to select from.
Jerry Colangelo on Olympics Games: "We are diligently working on trying to get as much flexibility as we possibly can not just for us. That's true for every country who's involved. You know, what rules existed in the past existed in the past, the unusual times call for unusual changes. And all we're asking for is flexibility, the ability to submit a final roster at the very last minute, and number two to be able to replace people because of COVID. So I'm hopeful all I could say is it's in the works. All the governing bodies are clued in, and let's see if they make the right decision."
Interviewed by ESPN, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills has confirmed he will participate in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, with a clear goal in his mind. “Oh, it’s crystal clear, mate. No hesitation at all. I think everyone is well aware of that, throughout the program, the team, obviously Goorjan, players as well… there’s no doubt about it. Not a single ounce of blood in my body says otherwise. I’m fully committed, and it obviously comes from a very genuine place and the goal that we have as a team… and we are very determined to accomplish it. We have an absolute chance to achieve that in Tokyo. Everyone who’s a part of that program right now, from the head coach all the way to the equipment manager, everyone’s gotta be locked in and feel the exact same way as we feel: determined, fire burning inside, desire to do everything we possibly can to win this gold medal”, Mills said.
Mark Medina: Stephen Curry on if he still plans to play in the Olympics if it still takes place next summer: "Honestly, I have no idea. Very open-ended question, and I have no idea."
“As a coach, I don’t really like the fact that there are a couple of players like Marc and Serge who can reach the Finals because that would obviously complicate their selection for the Olympics,” Scariolo said to Radio Marca. “But I’m happy that each of them has a team and a role within their team that is promising to be interesting. Having them all joining teams very quickly is a reason for calm for all.” According to the 2020-21 NBA calendar, the playoffs begin on May 6 and will be finished on July 22. If the Lakers or the Clippers reach the Finals then Gasol and Ibaka won’t be able to make it to Tokyo.
“It’s not “bad – bad” news but the seventh game of the Finals – if there is a Game 7 – will be played one day before the opening of the Olympic Games,” Scariolo said. “So the timing is quite bad, that one of the two teams from Los Angeles, Marc or Serge reach the Finals. We are taking a lot of risk, but it’s just something I have in my mind”
This would mean a return close to the NBA’s normal schedule, significant financial ramifications to start early, a potential finish before the 2021 Summer Olympics, and allow a window for stars to play in the Olympics, sources said. The NBA wants to continue to incorporate the play-in tournament that was utilized in the Orlando restart to determine the eighth seed in the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs, according to sources. ESPN first reported that a Christmas start and playing fewer than 82 games would be discussed on Friday’s call.
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July 27, 2021 | 2:34 pm EDT Update
So while Cunningham may share traits with Magic and Bird, the view of him as a can’t-miss prospect is much easier to process because of current-day players like Jokic—and, in particular, Luka Doncic. In broad strokes, Cunningham and Doncic may well be geminis of a very specific playmaking archetype. It’s rare to see perimeter players leverage their size, strength, and stride to create space in the way that both players seem innately aware and capable of. “As prospects, I do think Cade has a pretty similar baseline in terms of the vision and the way he sees the court, the way he processes how everyone is moving,” Zaucha said.
One watches Cunningham expecting a beeline to the right decision; one watches Doncic expecting the seas to magically part, showing another way. But the stylistic difference may not have much effect on substance. “I wonder if there really is a gap in their creativity—the way they manipulate defenders, especially—or if it’s some sort of aesthetic bias at play,” Zaucha said. “Because Luka loves to make those creative decisions, and then sell it with a behind-the-back pass or some wild delivery that the defense doesn’t expect. Whereas I think Cade—from a decision-making perspective, I think Cade solves problems in creative ways, he just doesn’t always make them look creative.”
Who are some of the NBA guys that you like to watch to help improve your game? Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: Two players I really like to watch are Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo. Draymond is a two-way player but defensive-minded and gets everything going for the team. He is very much a facilitator and he is able to find guys but still be aggressive to get his shot or to attack the goal. He is the glue to the team that is really important. I enjoy watching Draymond a lot because he’s just elite at facilitating, defense and being able to guard one through five. Bam, offensively, he is able to score at all three levels. He is able to have mismatches in the post and he is quick on his feet. He is able to hit tough turnaround shots. I like how he gets a lot of play out of the mid-post. I got a lot of that at Villanova this past season. I’m able to watch him get a lot of plays out of the midrange area with jab jumpers and rips to the goal for a dunk. He’s a playmaker, too, and he’s able to stretch to the three.
What about your game do you think will translate best to the next level in the pros? Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: I take a lot of pride in defensive and rebounding. I feel like, at every level, those are two things that can get you on the court. Coach Wright had a triangle for success and at the bottom of the triangle was defense and the next one was rebounding. If you can’t defend or rebound for Coach Wright, you’re not going to be in a position to be on the court. I know that’s gotten me to where I am today. I take a lot of pride in it and I want to keep doing what got me to this position today and keep being myself. I’m in a position to be drafted. Now is not the time to start doing things that I don’t normally do. I just need to keep focusing on doing what I do really well and knowing that what’s gotten me here has gotten me here. I’m going to keep excelling at that to the fullest. My weaknesses, I’ll get better at those on a year-to-year basis. I want to just keep gradually getting better and better.
Junior Robinson might be the only player in the history of college basketball to actively reduce his height in college, only to get taller as a pro. But the notion of players and coaches fudging their proportions is nothing new. Indeed, the basic assumption is that everyone is lying. This is college basketball, after all. Everyone’s looking for any tiny edge. Why would this be any different? So when I explain this idea to some coaches — that I researched the last 11 seasons of NBA Draft Combine height measurements, compared that to the prospects’ college figures and put it all in one big spreadsheet to see where the data would take us — they chuckled knowingly. “This is a great idea,” one coach said, “if you want to see how full of shit coaches really are.”
Storyline: Draft Combine
“It’s not always the kid,” Xavier coach Travis Steele said. “You’ll get a mentor or a parent in there saying, ‘Our Jimmy Joe is 6-foot-5!’ And you’re like, no, he’s 6-foot-3.’ We’ll get hit by parents who are sure their kid is taller than that. And it’s like, no, he’s really not.” There are other gambits, too. “You get kids who are 17 and they’re 6-foot-3, and they say, ‘Oh, (the doctor says) I’m going to be 6-foot-6,’” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “You know, ‘My growth plates are wide open.’ When I first got into coaching 30 years ago, I believed those kids. None of them — OK, very rarely — do you get a David Robinson. It just doesn’t happen.”