Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich have often spoken of how much they enjoy coaching against one another. This summer, they’re teaming up — to coach with, and against, one another.
Spoelstra has accepted an invitation to join the USA Basketball coaching staff for its Olympic preparations in Las Vegas next month. The Miami Heat coach, who went head-to-head against Popovich and San Antonio in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals, will be involved coaching the U.S. select team — a group of players that will be brought in to practice and scrimmage against the Olympic roster.
“I really just want to be a part of the program,” Spoelstra said. “I’m always pushing myself to get better in the offseasons; I go visit people and all that stuff. This is going to be a basketball immersion. I mean, the dinners, the team meetings ... for where I am right now in my career, I think this is the perfect thing for a summer of development.”
Team USA's first game in Japan is scheduled for July 25 against France. But all three have committed to traveling quickly to Japan by private plane, Colangelo said. "Life is about relationships and we've got relationships with all these players over the years," Colangelo said. "It's been a process and it hasn't been easy."
Unlike in 2019, when the Americans finished a disappointing seventh in the World Cup with a team that featured traditional centers and limited shooting, this roster is filled with players who can play multiple positions and are shooting specialists. "Versatility and athleticism are trademarks of this group," said Colangelo, who will retire following the Tokyo Games after 16 years leading Team USA. "Our staff feels this will be a very competitive group and we'll have shooting that we've been lacking. We're going to go into camp feeling confident we're going to perform well."
Shams Charania: Nets‘ James Harden has withdrawn from Team USA coming off his hamstring injury during the postseason, sources said.
Shams Charania: Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant has committed to Team USA for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Shams Charania: Team USA's 12-man roster for the Tokyo Olympics: Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Kevin Love, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Jerami Grant
Nick DePaula: Based on all reports, it would appear the 12-player @USAbasketball roster for the Tokyo Olympics is set: Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Draymond Green, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, Kevin Love, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum pic.twitter.com/9n9FqPNcbO
Shams Charania: Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Chris Paul plans to commit to Team USA for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton has committed to joining Team USA's 12-man roster for the Summer Olympics, @excelbasketball agent Mike Lindeman tells ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center Kevin Love has committed to joining Team USA's 12-man roster for the Summer Olympics, @excelbasketball agent Jeff Schwartz tells ESPN.
Multiple sources said Cleveland Cavaliers’ former All-Star Kevin Love was interested in another Olympics run, and Popovich was interested in bringing him aboard. Whether Love ultimately steps forward, or USAB even extends him an invitation, remains to be seen.
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.
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."
Tim Reynolds: Nick Nurse on Day 1 of Canada camp: "I'm going to say something amazing here. I think better players make better practice." You have to love the dude.
Marc Stein: For the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, @usabasketball is hopeful of securing a commitment from Wizards star guard Bradley Beal, @NYTSports has learned.
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.”
The USA Basketball Men’s National Team is opening its camp in Las Vegas on July 4 and will travel to the Tokyo Olympics 15 days later. As of now, there is no roster nor any commitments. The powers that be are evaluating 57 NBA players, Jerry Colangelo, the team’s managing director, told Sportico in an exclusive interview.
“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.
Tomas Satoransky and Jan Vesely stand out of the Czech Republic preliminary squad for the approaching Olympic Qualifying Tournament, announced Tuesday. Jan Zidek, son of former NBA center George Zidek and Pepperdine forward, also received an invitation.
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.
There are two other big names whose NBA team lost in the playoffs, perhaps you’ve heard of them? LeBron James and Anthony Davis are officially on vacation, after the Lakers lost in six games to Phoenix, but neither LeBron nor Davis is expected to play for Team USA due to their terrible seasons of injuries, according to a source close to both players.
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.”
Brad Townsend: Second, Boban says he is looking forward to the Olympic qualifying tournament in which his Team Serbia will face JJ Barea and Puerto Rico and Nico Melli and Italy. pic.twitter.com/OhYXq5CTZX
Tatum is the kind of linchpin around which Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo could build a roster. Conversations with prospects are “ramping up,” he said, though he chose not to disclose with whom or name which players out of the pool of 57 NBA stars had expressed a desire to play. Training camp in Las Vegas starts in early July, and now that the first round of the playoffs is over, the pace to begin putting the 12-man roster together is accelerating.
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.
Jeff Zillgitt: Jayson Tatum on playing in the Tokyo Olympics: "It’s definitely something to think about obviously. I’m going on two, three years without much of a break. But obviously that’s an incredible opportunity. Something I’ve got to think about further down the line."
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."
Anthony Chiang: Precious Achiuwa said he has spoken about the possibility of playing for Nigeria in Tokyo this summer.
Team USA was upset Sunday by the Netherlands in the 3x3 basketball Olympic qualifying tournament in Graz, Austria, failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The 21-16 defeat in the quarterfinals eliminated the Americans from getting one of the three bids available for the Olympics. It was a surprise defeat for Team USA, which won the last 3x3 World Cup in 2019 and is the No. 2-ranked team in the world behind Serbia. The Americans went 3-1 in pool play to enter the medal round as a top seed.
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
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
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.
Tim Reynolds: Here's how much making the Tokyo Games apparently means to the Canadian-born NBA players. There are 16 of them, born in Canada, that averaged 5 points or more this season. 2 are hurt. The other 14 accepted invites to Canada's training camp.
“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.
Mark Medina: Kawhi Leonard on his plans for 2021 Olympics: "Right now, my plan is to go. It doesn't really matter about the success that we have [in the playoffs]."
Pierce said the U.S. is trying to simultaneously be pre-emptive and proactive when it comes to figuring out how this summer might work in terms of personnel. ''We haven't talked about style of play and things like that,'' Pierce said. ''I think there's a lot of other factors that are really important right now leading into that.'' The U.S. men will open the Olympics against France - the team that beat them in the World Cup quarterfinals and ended their medal hopes in that event - on July 25. The U.S. men will also face Iran on July 28 and a still-to-be-determined team on July 31.
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.
Pau Gasol will sign with his former Spanish club FC Barcelona for the rest of the season. Gasol wants to play at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.
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
July 31, 2021 | 3:05 am EDT Update
According to a former Western Conference executive, the Wizards highly value Caldwell-Pope but may be open to either Kuzma, Harrell or both rerouted to another team. Would that team be Sacramento?
Schroder will be competing with several other free agents at the same position, including Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball, Mike Conley, Spencer Dinwiddie and Paul (if he opts out of his final year). “He may get squeezed,” a Western Conference executive told Bleacher Report.
Here’s what Wojnarowski reported on ESPN’s morning show ‘Get Up’: “Philadelphia is still asking for a lot. Teams are not willing to be strip-mined to trade for Ben Simmons. They’re going to continue to try and find a way, to see if there’s a deal here as free agency starts. You kind of get another cycle of deal-making here. But he’s four years left on his deal, they’re not going to just give him away in Philly. Whatever they get back for him, they’ve got to believe it continues to make them a championship contender. But they’d like to get a deal done before training camp.”
Eric Pincus: I had heard Caruso was a target of the Pacers, Hawks and Cavs – but the Pacers, I think, keep TJ (TBD) – and the Hawks just got Wright and the Cavs Rubio – so maybe the market for AC has shifted. If I’m Lakers, I don’t think twice about keeping him
Per NBA sources, the Lakers went into the offseason with a clear Plan A: unrealistic hopes of landing a Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. Plan B was Chris Paul (but then the Phoenix Suns advanced to the NBA Finals) and Westbrook. Hield was always Plan C.
That pushed Hield to the forefront. But even as the possibility of a deal built around Kyle Kuzma and Harrell began to form, the Lakers kept the door open to a Westbrook deal. Westbrook asserted his voice into the conversation, and per an NBA source, the Wizards pivoted. Just like that, the pieces the Kings liked for Hield were no longer available.
De’Aaron Fox: He’s not apart of my team. He doesn’t work for me. He’s a parent and a fan talking just like y’all. So take whatever they say as fans having conversations like y’all do everyday.
Italy made it to the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games after storming back against Nigeria to secure the win, 80-71, at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday. Nicolo Melli and Achille Polonara put the finishing touches on a 14-0 sprint generating a 70-64 lead. The European side held on to secure the victory punching in the ticket for the next round. The team led by Meo Sacchetti will rank first in Group B if Germany beats Australia by a margin of 17 points or less later in Tokyo. It will be in second place in any other case. A helpful reminder, the three group winners and the best-placed second will be seeded for Sunday’s draw.