NBA rumors: Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker available vs. France

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Joe Vardon: The Australians made easy work of Nigeria, 84-65. A sloppy game but the Boomers dominated. Patty Mills led all scorers with 25 points, while Dante Exum and Joe Ingles added 11 points each. Next up, USA-France in less than two hours.
Joe Vardon: Pretty remarkable: Tokyo Olympic officials would not allow Nigeria’s assistant coaches into the Olympic Village when the team arrived Friday. As a result, the team had to hold a players only practice Saturday.
Marc Stein: Juancho Hernangomez has been removed from Spain’s Olympic roster at the Timberwolves’ behest as Hernangomez recovers from a separated shoulder. Statement from Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas: pic.twitter.com/L62IpXxgIk

http://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/1419011349716226049
Dane Moore: Rosas on his ruling that Juancho Hernangomez won’t play in Olympics: “Juancho needs time to recover from and rehabilitate his injury, and that timeline restricts Juancho’s availability to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. The determined recovery plan is the best path forward.”
In the past 18 months since Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, Gasol no longer could lean on a trusted teammate and friend as he did when they won two NBA championships with the Lakers (2009, 2010). Still, Gasol could still rely on his own memories with how Bryant overcame injuries. “I kept him in mind a lot of the days to say hey, ‘Kobe would be pushing himself,’” Gasol told USA TODAY Sports. “Kobe would not be taking this workout easy or not skipping anything. He would be really disciplined, trusting and being committed to the work. He’s always a big presence with me. He’s always going to be an inspiration and motivation in my life.”
His role did not mirror what he experienced during his first stint with FC Barcelona. Yet, Gasol considered it “very special” that he played in limited minutes at the end of the season and helped the team win another La Liga title. Gasol will try to do the same for the Spanish national team, which he called “a very good team.” Still, Gasol predicted “the competition is going to be fierce,” which could include Team USA even if a handful of stars have abstained following the compressed NBA season. “They are a very talented team,” Gasol said of Team USA. “You have to play your best on both ends of the floor and take them out of your game. That’s what we will try to do. That’s against any team, but that’s against the best teams even more. So we’ll see if our paths cross.”
Tim Reynolds: Juancho Hernangomez, who was ruled out of the Olympics by Spain with a dislocated shoulder, then was put back on the Olympic roster ... is now officially out of the Olympics because of the shoulder. Spain is replacing him with Xabi Lopez-Arostegui.
Per Eurohoops, “Juancho wants to play in the Olympic Games, but Juancho won’t be able to play,” Garbajosa said in a statement. “We’ve had countless medical meetings and we’ve never received a ‘no’. We have a received a ‘yes’. We don’t have a problem with the [Minnesota Timberwolves] or the NBA. It’s a problem of people – not medical personnel – who have personally decided that Juancho couldn’t play. I’m talking about their president of basketball operations [Gersson Rosas].
“Four hours before the game against USA, there was a meeting between the doctors of the national team and the doctors of the Timberwolves franchise who congratulated Juancho and the national team on the recovery,” Garbajosa said. “The answer about whether Juancho could play was a ‘yes’ and that the next evaluation will be after the Olympics. From that moment until Minnesota told us that he won’t play, there were a series of facts that showed that the decision isn’t of medical nature. Even the Timberwolves coach congratulated Juancho for being in Tokyo. No one doubted that he could play.”
Willy Hernangomez: #FreeJuancho FFG 🌟
Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday were scheduled to arrive in Japan on a private G6 jet around 11 p.m. Saturday, less than 24 hours before Team USA opens Olympic play against France in a vital game out of gate. It's a brutal travel day after an exhausting playoff stretch that will test their mental and physical stamina. It also won the extreme respect of their American teammates. "I have a lot of respect for those guys for not only committing to do this but actually keeping their word," Team USA forward Draymond Green said. "You're talking about three true professionals, three extremely competitive guys that wouldn't be on their way here if this didn't mean something."
It is unclear how much coach Gregg Popovich can rely on the three to play, but he indicated his plan is to use them against the French, who project to be the toughest matchup the Americans will face in a pool-play round that also includes games against Iran and the Czech Republic. "We obviously know they're in shape. They're tired. They just went through a roller coaster of emotion," Team USA guard Zach LaVine said. "I think they'll be ready to go, and we'll see what happens. But as for the team, I think we need to be ready for everything. If they're not ready to go, then we have to go out there and perform still."
LaVine, who started the final exhibition games, said he feels fine from a basketball and conditioning standpoint after his brief stay in quarantine. The games start for real now, pushing him to his preferred mode of competitor. “We know how good they are,” LaVine said of France. “But we also know how good we are too. We went over the film and understand what they do. But I think we’re more focused on what we do. Because if we do what we do good, I don’t think there’s any team out here that’s going to come close to us.”
Argentina’s captain is about to play in the Olympics for a fifth time, those appearances spanning three different decades. There are athletes at the Tokyo Games who were not even born — one was five years from being born — when Scola won a gold medal in Athens 17 years ago. Yes, he’s been around for a while. And there’s the genesis of that daily wish. “For the love of God, please, please, please — this is what I tell myself every morning in the mirror — please do not look old,” Scola said. “That’s all I want.”
“Luis is a wonderful human being,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “Obviously, he loves basketball. He’s been playing it for so long. It’s a group of guys, you know, for the last 10 or 15 years, 20 years, whatever it is, they are very close. They love the game, they’ve been a great example of international basketball and Luis is the epitome of that. And I can only continue to be amazed at his love of the game, his love of his teammates, and how much he wants to lead and be there. He and their program are special.”
The trio of players making the unprecedented jump from the NBA Finals to the Olympics are all scheduled to be in Japan by Saturday. The hope is for Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to be available when Team USA opens play Sunday against France, according to coach Gregg Popovich. After attending the Milwaukee Bucks' championship parade Thursday, Middleton and Holiday are scheduled to fly to Seattle on Friday. There, they will join Booker, whose Phoenix Suns they helped eliminate on Tuesday, and take a private plane to Tokyo.
But with an expected tough test against the French, Popovich is planning on using his reinforcements immediately, even if he's not sure how it will play out. "I have no idea [how to use them]. I'm not trying to be glib. I'm trying to be transparent," Popovich said. "Maybe they'll be OK for the game [Sunday] and it'll hit them two days later. Maybe we should play them in the first half and see what they're like."

http://twitter.com/KDTrey5/status/1418258589529960452
Nigeria’s Olympic men’s basketball team made headlines when it upset Team USA in an exhibition game on July 10. While the majority of the players on Nigeria’s roster are American-born or immigrated to the United States as young children, there is one major exception: Miami Heat forward Precious Achiuwa. “It’s big for me to have ‘Nigeria’ on my jersey,” Achiuwa, 21, recently told The Undefeated. “I’m the only NBA player on this team that was actually not only born in Nigeria, but grew up in Nigeria.”
Brian Robb: Jayson Tatum on missing out on teaming up with Bradley Beal at Olympics: "I was upset...Unfortunately, it's not going to be able to happen but looking forward to competing out here and winning a gold medal and making sure we have an extra one for him."
The Jump: "I can't wait to join them. We're up against a tough field" —@Khris Middleton on possibly getting gold in the Olympics #TheJump
Marc J. Spears: USA Basketball Team member Zach LaVine has cleared USA Basketball's health and safety protocols and will join the USA team in Tokyo Thursday afternoon. LaVine, who went into USA Basketball's health and safety protocols Monday and did not travel with the team to Tokyo.
Was it an easy decision for you when the time came to play in the Olympics, or was it something you had to think about a bit? Other players had some understandable reservations with the short offseason and the condensed season. After all, your season with the Wizards just ended a few weeks ago. Beal: Yes and no. Like I said earlier, I'm very meticulous about my training. It's always been the same the past few offseasons. I usually take like a month, or two, off and really rest my body because I'm playing a lot of minutes during the year. So that did weigh into the decision, but, ultimately, this has always been my dream. I've always been a part of USA basketball, and I didn't get to go to the World Cup in 2019 because of the birth of my son. And then now this decision wasn't easy either because I actually missed one of my older brother's weddings. So, I actually had to make sure I got his blessing or permission to make sure it was cool, because I wouldn't have gone if he said no. So, I'm happy about my sister-in-law and him really blessing me. My wife and my kids, also, because they can't go. So, for everybody to kind of sign off on it was the ultimate icing on the cake. In the back of my head I always knew that this was what I wanted to do.
“Then (Team USA managing director) Jerry (Colangelo) came up to me and he kind of broke the news to me,” Johnson continued. “I mean, I was lost for words. I didn’t really know what to say but thank you for the opportunity and trust in me to go over there and take care of business with the other guys.”
But now, the cool parts: Johnson said he has several close family members and friends who have served or are serving in the U.S. military. When he told his parents, Rochelle and Chris Johnson, about being an Olympian, “my mom cried, my dad was choking up a little bit, everybody was like, because you know you pray for moments like this … it was a special moment.”
One explanation for their struggles: The players, all of whom are on NBA rosters, have had to adjust to the different rules and style of international play. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum outlined some of the key adjustments to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn. "It’s a lot of differences," Tatum said. "Players can’t call timeouts. You can smack the ball off the rim. The ball is different. You can sit in the paint all day. There's less possessions because there’s less minutes in a game.
Q: Who is the biggest threat? Fran Fraschilla: I would say Australia just because of their great chemistry, camaraderie and toughness. They know how to play Team USA. They play the FIBA physical style of play which is reminiscent of NBA circa 1990s, and our Americans are used to touch fouls and two free throws. It’s something I think we’ll figure out by the time we get to Tokyo.
Argentina, the winner of the 2004 Olympic tournament and the 2019 World Cup silver medalist, will begin the games in Tokyo against reigning world champion Spain, Luka Doncic’s Slovenia and host Japan in Group C. The top two teams from each of the three groups will automatically advance to the quarterfinals while two third-placed teams will also qualify based on ranking criteria. The full roster of Argentina is as follows: Point guards: Facundo Campazzo: 1.80 – 30 – Denver Nuggets. Nicolas Laprovittola: 1.88 – 31- free agent. Luca Vildoza: 1.89 – 25 – New York Knicks. Shooting guards: Nicolas Brussino: 2.05 – 27 – Granada. Leandro Bolmaro: 2.00 – 20 – Barcelona. Small Forwards: Gabriel Deck: 1.98 – 26 – Oklahoma City Thunder. Patricio Garino: 1.98 – 28 – free agent. Juan Pablo Vaulet: 1.99 – 25 – AEK Athens. Power forwards: Luis Scola: 2.07 – 41 – Varese. Centers: Marcos Delia: 2.09 – 29 – Trieste. Tayavek Gallizzi: 2.04 – 28 – Regatas Corrientes. Francisco Cáffaro: 2.14 – 21 – Virginia University.
Friday morning, Johnson went into the team room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where Team USA is staying, and Popovich asked Johnson, “Did your life change a little?” Johnson’s reply was, “What are you talking about?” because he doesn’t have Twitter. He hadn’t seen the various media reports that he was replacing Beal. “Then (Team USA managing director) Jerry (Colangelo) came up to me and he kind of broke the news to me,” Johnson continued. “I mean, I was lost for words. I didn’t really know what to say but thank you for the opportunity and trust in me to go over there and take care of business with the other guys.”
Johnson averaged 12.8 points for the Spurs this season. He said Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Zach LaVine have been generous with their teachings during practices. He said being the 29th overall pick of the 2019 draft and becoming an Olympian after two pro seasons is not something he could have expected or even imagined, and he doesn’t want to rest on the laurels of his promotion. But now, the cool parts: Johnson said he has several close family members and friends who have served or are serving in the U.S. military. When he told his parents, Rochelle and Chris Johnson, about being an Olympian, “my mom cried, my dad was choking up a little bit, everybody was like, because you know you pray for moments like this … it was a special moment.”
Marc J. Spears: Challenge @usabasketball faces in replacing 2 players is availability along with being in basketball shape. Several declined or are hurt. One player in Finals that could be considered not already on the team is Brook Lopez, source said. Keldon Johnson likely as @Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
Adrian Wojnarowski: There’s significant support and momentum for Spurs forward Keldon Johnson to be added to 12-man Team USA roster, sources tell ESPN. He’s been playing with Olympic team as member of USA Select group, well-conditioned and has developed into a favorite of decision-makers and staff.
Brian Windhorst: With Jerami Grant in quarantine and Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday & Khris Middleton in Finals, Team USA currently has 6 players.
Chris Haynes: You said those other countries have caught up. Is it fair to think the days of those huge blowout games Team USA used to unleash on a regular basis are over? Damian Lillard: Our attitude has to be that we're going there to win a gold medal, but we can't go in there with the attitude that it's just going to happen. Because everybody has gotten better, we must go over there knowing we can be beat. We’re known for winning gold medals, and we should be going over there wearing that like a badge of honor. We’re here to win it all, but it's not just going to happen. We must earn it. It's that simple. We’re just trying to keep making strides in the right direction. Obviously, we want to win and we're trying to win, but I think the focus has been more on us just getting better and becoming a team more and more. So, when we get over there, we know what we need to do.
After missing the Olympic qualifiers, Dennis Schroder will not be added to the roster of the German national team for the upcoming Olympic Games, as it was officially announced today. Per the German Basketball Federation press release: “Dennis Schr?der will not play for Germany at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The reason for this decision remains the enormous insurance requirements that cannot be met and thus prevent the point guard from being used, as was the case at the Olympic qualification tournament in Croatia.
Renewed, joint, and intensive efforts to be able to guarantee adequate insurance cover were not crowned with success. “I would have loved to have been there in Tokyo. It’s the Olympic Games, that’s pretty much the greatest honor for an athlete, and I’ve always dreamed of participating in the Olympics. I am of course very disappointed that I cannot play and fight with the team in this important tournament. But I’m very happy for all the twelve guys who are going to Tokyo now. They played a great qualification together and deserved to be part of it. As a team, you have shown enormous solidarity and I am convinced that with this attitude you can also achieve something in Tokyo,” stated Schroder.
Adrian Wojnarowski: After spending 10 days in Las Vegas preparing for the Olympics, Cleveland’s Kevin Love is withdrawing from Team USA and won’t travel to Tokyo, sources tell ESPN. Love is still returning to full form from a right calf injury that kept him out a significant part of the NBA season.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Team USA is working to replace two players for the 12-man roster now. Both Bradley Beal and Kevin Love won't join the team in Tokyo this month.
“I left my job and took one that had more flexibility for taking days off during the Olympic Games,” Nakamura said. “We’re all frustrated with COVID-19. Japan was slow to start vaccinating people... “I was sad because I’ve been looking forward to the Games for almost two years since I got tickets. After that I needed to give up many things due to COVID-19 but I’ve been patient and staying safe hoping for this opportunity.” Nakamura and other ticket holders will be receiving a full refund, according to the International Olympic Committee.
While Team USA has three guys from the Select Team up with them, they are still shorthanded. That has led to the cancelation of Friday night’s exhibition against Australia. “Out of an abundance of caution, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team exhibition game versus the Australian Men’s National Team scheduled for Friday, July 16, in Las Vegas has been canceled because of health and safety protocols,” USA Basketball announced
How challenging has it been for you to pick your spots and find your niche on such a star-studded team? Zach LaVine: For me, it's not hard because I understand, or at least for me right now, I understand my place on the team. We can all score. There's guys on the team that's averaged 30. I'm close to 28, 30 points per game myself. So if we all get the ball, we obviously all know how to put the ball in hoop. But we each need to have a role on this team. It needs to be a team instead of just a group of All-Stars and All-NBA players. Or we're not going to win. So, I'm out here just trying to do whatever is necessary. If the ball gets in my hand and I need create, I'm gonna do that. If I need to go out and play defense, I'm gonna do that. If I need to just bring energy, pick up the pace of play. That's what I figured out my role is, and hopefully we can all find out what we do well in this team and still be ourselves.
John Karalis: USA basketball announces Bradley Beal will miss the Olympics due to the health and safety protocols. Jerami Grant is now also in the protocol "out of an abundance of caution"
Shams Charania: Team USA's Jerami Grant has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, sources tell me and @joevardon . Grant has not tested positive for coronavirus. He and Bradley Beal are in protocols in Las Vegas.
Team USA men’s basketball has been a subject of scrutiny for the last five days with the basketball community expressing its enormous disappointment in the team getting off to an unprecedented 0-2 exhibition start ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, the face of Team USA, is just chilling in his hotel suite at Aria Resort & Casino. “I’m doing fine, myself,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I haven’t really left my room with the health and safety protocols we’re following. Not really watching much [NBA Finals] basketball. I’m just out here to hoop, stay safe and get better. The s*** people are saying doesn’t bother me. It’s all about context.”
“We’re a team that’s still coming together and trying to find our identity,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “We have so many great players that you can play so many different ways, and we are indecisive at times on defense and offense. In the midst of us figuring it out, these teams are established and they’re running their sets. We’re working on our sets. The stars were kind of aligned for us to lose early on.”
Durant noted that the context was important. “It’s easy to say that after two losses without any context,” Durant tells Yahoo Sports. “Let's just go down the roster of each team and you can find the answer. If you’re looking for NBA talent, those teams have it. Understand where we’re at as a team and then you can make assumptions for yourself. We do have all the best players in the league, but these national teams have NBA players, too, who are now No. 1 options and they’re used to playing that role internationally. We’re still adjusting as a team, and that’s not making excuses. There's a lot of context people need to understand. We didn’t expect to lose a game, but losing games happen. We’ll get it right.”
There seems to be a bit of concern about the USA’s prospects at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after losing exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, even with bouncing back to defeat Argentina in the third game in Las Vegas. How would you assess where Team USA is at right now? Damian Lillard: I think it’s been a process for all of us. None of us have ever really played together other than KD and Draymond. International game is so much different. Like, we trying to figure out how to play that game. And also how to be a team and not just a bunch of talented individuals. These other teams, they’ve been in camp longer than we have, they in better shape than we are right now. They’ve been playing as a team for years and years as a national team, so I think it just shows that the talent is getting better around the world and we’re just not going to roll out the ball and beat ‘em.
Damian Lillard: We’ve got to be in shape, we’ve got to be sharp and we’ve got to come together as a team to win these games. Each game we’ve played better, like (versus Argentina) I thought we looked like Team USA, but that’s because we’re playing ourselves into better shape, we getting more comfortable with each other, guys are kind a just falling into what they see themselves being on the team. And that’s it. Everybody is expecting us to just blow everybody out, I think it’s better that we experienced it now. Australia is a competitive team, Nigeria is a really good team this time around, they got NBA players out there. It’s better than us picking a few teams that we can just beat up on, we playing against good competition and teams that have experience together. Obviously we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to be that team, but I think it’s better to happen now than for us to come out here, have it easy and then we go to Tokyo and just get our ass whooped.
Carlos Alocen has not traveled with the Spanish national team to Las Vegas as a precaution after learning he was in close contact with a person since testing positive for coronavirus, the Spanish Basketball Federation announced Thursday. Alocen, 20, was not expected to make the final cut for the Olympic Games squad. However, head coach Sergio Scariolo wanted to test all remaining 14 players against the USA at Las Vegas on Sunday.
To be clear, he is in Team USA’s COVID-19 protocols. The Athletic does not report a player’s status as it relates to the virus without the player announcing/confirming it. He is still in Las Vegas, sources said, but is quarantined while awaiting further information, and no decisions will be made until Beal and Team USA have all the facts. The Olympics begin July 23 in Tokyo, with Team USA’s first game set for July 25. Generally speaking, any athlete who tests positive for the virus now will not be permitted to compete.
Is any other Team USA player or coach in the protocol? No, sources said. Nor would the team be in danger of disqualification from the Olympics due to contact tracing. Last week, three players on the select team — Immanuel Quickley, P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges — were sent home after being placed in COVID protocol. If a player or coach is vaccinated, it can impact whether they are placed in the protocol.
Durant and Beal were also the Americans’ top rebounders with six boards apiece. Beal was an evenly efficient 5-of-8 from the field. “Our biggest thing is we have to realize it’s not the NBA, and coach Pop keeps emphasizing that every single day,” Beal said. “It’s way more physical, guys are smarter, these guys (opponents like Australia) have been playing together for five, 10 years, so they have the experience and chemistry and we’re trying to develop that in a short period of time. “Sense of urgency is what we’re kind of preaching, but at the same time every single day we have to get better.”
“I always go back to (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “Jerry (Sloan) ran the same play for 20 years, they just ran it really well, and that’s what we want to do. We want to play defense a certain way, offense very simply, but still taking advantage of everybody’s abilities. “It was better,” Popovich also said. “Bit by bit, every day I hope.”
Nigeria and Australia have had a few weeks of practice, opposed to Team USA only practicing two and a half days to this point. And Australia consists of a nucleus that has played together for several years. Team USA is still in a feeling-out period when it comes to playing with each other, and one noticeable observation is that they're still in NBA mode.
Throughout the games, multiple players, from Jayson Tatum to Bradley Beal, have been staring down the officials following no-calls as they’re accustomed to receiving touch fouls or star-treatment officiating in the NBA. In the first half on Monday, Tatum was called for an offensive foul on a drive when he slightly nudged the defender aside with his right hand to create separation. It was a move that’s consistently ignored in the NBA. And Team USA has yet to attempt knocking the ball off the rim after it’s clanking around, a method that’s allowed in FIBA play but ruled a goaltend in the NBA.
The dominant USA basketball teams of the past were defensive nightmares for opponents. There was an emphasis centered on aggressive full-court pressure and traps to ignite the offense. As talented as they were offensively, they were even better defensively. Australia shot 52.9% from the field and outscored Team USA in the paint 44-24. This version of Team USA has lacked aggression on defense, aside from Draymond Green. Head coach Gregg Popovich has stated players are still rounding into shape, so applying immense full-court pressure is probably not the best course of action at this stage.
The scrutiny is warranted, but there are factors in play that can’t be disregarded. Once the team is fully acclimated to the new rules and officiating, once they’re equipped with more practice time and once the entire roster is in place, then we’ll be able to thoroughly evaluate the team and Popovich. But make no mistake about it, through two exhibition games, there is cause for concern.
So a reporter asked Damian Lillard about it after the loss to Australia. But Gregg Popovich didn’t like it one bit. They got into a heated exchange in the press conference and things got pretty awkward. “The reporter: I know coach has been preaching about how much better the world has gotten over the years…what’s it like having watched some of your colleagues go through some of these tournaments and blow these teams out and now you’re having a much different, much closer and tougher experience? Pop didn’t like that one bit. After Lillard answered the question, he went off. “Popovich: You asked the same sort of question, the same family of question the last time, where you assume things that are not true. Where you just mentioned blowing these teams out. That’s never happened. I don’t know where you get that.”
The reporter interjected to defend the questioning, but it wasn’t caught on mic. Pop didn’t appreciate that either. “Popovich: Are you going to let me finish my statement or not? So you’ll be quiet now, while I talk. And then I’ll listen to you. When you make statements in the past about blowing out these other teams, number one, you give no respect to the other teams. I talked to you last time about the same thing. We’ve had very close games against four or five countries in all of these tournaments. So, the good teams do not get blown out. There are certain games that might happen…where somebody gets blown out. But in general, nobody is blowing anybody out with the good teams. So when you make a statement like that, you assume that’s what’s going on. And that’s incorrect.”
And for quite probably the first time in 29 years of NBA players suiting up for the national team, there was a smattering of boos when a game ended – on home soil, no less. Patty Mills scored 22 points and Australia held the US without a field goal for the final 4:34 on the way to beating the Americans 91-83 on Monday night, dropping the three-time defending Olympic gold medalists to 0-2 in their five-game slate of exhibitions leading up to the Tokyo Games. “We’re not satisfied. we’ve got a long way to go,” Mills told ESPN afterward. “We can still get a lot better. But defense is where we’re going to hang our hat this whole campaign.”
It was a better showing than the loss to Nigeria on Saturday, but just reading those words is a little mind-boggling considering the pedigree of this roster and coaching staff. Their chemistry and execution, particularly in late-game situations, is holding the Americans back in their early stages of defending their title. "I thought we got better tonight," said Team USA coach Gregg Popovich, continuing his stance of emphasizing process over results. "After a short time together, there's a lot of things that have to be covered."
“In the first half we defended the way we wanted to defend,” Popovich said. “We were more physical, we sustained the defense longer, we rebounded better, we moved the ball better and had more pace. In the second half we tired out and when that happens you get hit mentally a little bit too. So we have some guys that have to get our legs and rhythm back, but in general we need more conditioning and that’s totally understandable.”
“We are still working at becoming a team, getting our legs under us and getting in shape,” said Lillard, whose 22 points and six 3s led the Americans. “In the second half, we tired out,” Popovich said. “And when that happens, you get hit mentally a little bit, too. We didn’t sustain the boards the same way, the defense wasn’t the same, our pace wasn’t the same, so we got some guys that have to get their legs and rhythm back, but in general, we need more conditioning, which is totally understandable.”
But Ingles, who scored 17 points in Team Australia’s 91-83 win over Team USA on Monday night in Las Vegas, soberly stating that the Aussies held no fear or doubt that they would beat this team of American stars is certainly the latest in a growing number of “stop you in your tracks” moments when it comes to USA Basketball. “No disrespect to them. They’re a hell of a team, obviously, the guys they’ve got on their roster,” Ingles said. “And Pop (Gregg Popovich) standing up there is always nice to see. But we came in here expecting to win the game, and that’s what we did.”
Ja Morant: what's going on wit team usa 👀 wasn't watching
Brown says the Miami Heat rookie is a special talent: "He is extremely important to this program. There is no ceiling to how good he can be. "As a young guy, you see the talent, you see the determination, you see the intelligence, you see the physical and mental toughness, you see the athleticism, the length, the quickness. You see all those things, and when he puts them all together, he is a dynamite on the floor, even as a young guy. "It's just a matter of him understanding how he can utilize all those attributes every single second he is on the floor. He is still learning and that is why I say he is not even close to touching his ceiling.
Observers of Team USA’s practices and one game (which, yes, was a disaster) say pairing Green with Damian Lillard will allow the Americans to run “Curry s---,” or in proper English, the plays and actions the Warriors designed for Stephen Curry on offense. Green can distribute the ball at the top of the key and use his body for screens that Lillard can slip off of for 3s or quick darts to the rim. But where he will make his mark in his journey for a second gold medal is, of course, on defense. Team USA’s next exhibition game is at 8 p.m. Monday against the Australians. “Obviously, everyone always wants to beat (the) USA and we understand that,” Green said. “So to go and defend our country in the way that we can is always an honor.
In that famed summer of 1980, while Pinckney, Ewing and Mullin previewed their future dominance in the Big East down in Honesdale, a scrawny unknown kid with a forgettable name had coaches in Pittsburgh asking the same question over and over: Who the hell is Mike Jordan? While his peers scrambled, Roy Williams positioned himself at each of Jordan’s stations, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Weeks earlier, Williams, then just a second-year assistant to Dean Smith, spied Jordan at North Carolina’s own camp, mesmerized not just by the player’s obvious skill but his commitment. He wasn’t entirely an unknown commodity. Bill Guthridge watched him in a high school game earlier but wasn’t quite sure about him. He’d only shot jump shots that night, and so Guthridge couldn’t vouch for Jordan’s athleticism. The staff decided to extend an invite to their summer camp, so they could evaluate him a little more and get an early inside track.
At the Carolina camp, Williams worked at Carmichael Gym, where players would come in groups of 20 in the afternoon for 30-minute runs of pickup. Jordan not only asked to stay an extra session, but after hoofing it the mile or so back to the Granville Tower dorms once his extra time ended, he walked all the way back in the Carolina heat to play again. That night Williams and fellow assistant Eddie Fogler sat around talking about players they liked that day. “I’ll never forget this,’’ Williams says. “I looked at Eddie and said, ‘I just saw the best 6-4 player I’ve ever seen.’’’ Fogler thought Williams was crazy. Jordan’s name didn’t appear anywhere on Street & Smith’s top 650 players. Fogler watched Jordan for himself the next day, as did Smith. “From then on, Coach Smith had breakfast or lunch with Michael every day,’’ Williams says with a laugh. When camp ended, Williams asked Jordan’s high school coach, Clifton Herring, about Jordan’s summer plans.
That summer in Pittsburgh, Brendan Malone, then a Syracuse assistant who would go on to be an NBA head coach, had to rush home after his wife was involved in a moped accident. He entrusted his pick to Konchalski, telling him to take Aubrey Sherrod, the stud guard out of Kansas. Instead after watching the games, he selected Jordan. “Who the f--- is Mike Jordan?” Malone exploded, upon returning to camp to see his team. “By the end of the week they handed out five individual awards,’’ Williams says. “He got all five of them.’’
Wanna have the same Olympic gold medal as Michael Jordan?! A player from the Team USA hoops squad in 1984 is parting ways with their memento ... and it can be yours if you have a huge chunk of change lying around!! This medal is from the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, when Team USA -- coached by college legend Bob Knight -- dominated with Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Sam Perkins and Wayman Tisdale!!
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September 18, 2021 | 5:41 pm EDT Update
You’re here for at least the next five years now that you’ve signed an extension. Do you allow yourself to think – or dream – about what might come over that time span since you’ve talked openly about wanting to win a title in New York? Have you allowed yourself to think about how things might progress? Julius Randle: Obviously, it’s a process. Everything is a process. We’ve been building this from the ground up. But for me, personally, that is the expectation (winning a title in New York). That’s what I want to happen within that time frame. There’s a lot of things, factors that go into that. So obviously you’ve got to weigh that stuff in.
Julius Randle: But as far as myself, I know Thibs (Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau) is thinking (it as well), it’s just win at all costs. For me personally, that’s just how I prepare myself. I prepare myself to compete at the highest level of our game. Like I said, there’s a lot of factors (that go into winning an NBA title). But I trust Leon (Knicks president Leon Rose), I trust Thibs, Wes (Knicks vice president William Wesley), our coaches, Scott (Knicks GM Scott Perry) – all these guys, I trust. That was part of my process in thinking of signing the extension and that’s my goal, that’s our goal as a team and the guys that are around us. We want to be able to say that we won a championship here in New York. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than that.
Did you guys see the video clip of Trae Young at the Garden with WWE? Do you care about that stuff? Julius Randle: Yeah I see it. But honestly, I don’t care. Obviously, that’s (for) entertainment purposes and all that (stuff), so I let people enjoy it. For me, honestly, I don’t care. I honestly didn’t even watch it. Knicks fans, they’re going to make a big deal out of it – they didn’t like it (laughs). But it’s all fun and games and hopefully they enjoyed it.
September 18, 2021 | 12:10 pm EDT Update

Rockets re-sign Dante Exum, waive Tyler Bey

The Rockets have officially re-signed guard Dante Exum and waived Tyler Bey to create a roster space for him, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw was the first to report the Bey transaction (Twitter link). With John Wall not expected to play for the team this season as it seeks to trade him, the Rockets were in the market for another point guard. The Rockets’ interest in Exum surfaced on Tuesday.
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Timberwolves sign Leandro Bolmaro

When the Timberwolves traded up to get Leandro Bolmaro last November in the 2020 NBA Draft (yes, it was less than a year ago… it still feels weird), the question was would it be a year or two before Bolmaro came over from Barcelona to play in the NBA. The answer is one. Minnesota reached a deal and Bolmaro will be with the Timberwolves in training camp, the team announced Saturday. This is not a surprise; he was expected to come over this season. He will be playing on a rookie scale contract.