The U.S. men’s national basketball team got a reality check on the road to Olympic gold this week, losing two consecutive exhibition games against Nigeria and Australia. But for Mark Tatum, the deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the NBA, those defeats marked a victory of sorts, in the league’s decades long quest to internationalize the game of basketball. “The world is getting better, and I think that makes basketball a much more attractive game for the world to follow,” Tatum said, in an interview on Yahoo Finance Live. “We’re happy to see that level of competition continue to grow and grow.”
Wes Goldberg: Pop after Team USA's win over Argentina tonight: "I thought both (Bam) and Draymond facilitated a lot of action. They were very active, got everybody involved, and that's something that's really important for us."
Chase Hughes: Team USA bounces back by beating Argentina by 28 points, 108-80. Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant led the way, each with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Chase Hughes: Team USA's starting lineup vs. Argentina: Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant, Bam Adebayo. Beal has started all three games so far.
Shams Charania: Jayson Tatum will not play tonight vs. Argentina due to right knee soreness. He is day to day, Team USA says.
Joe Vardon: Tonight Gregg Popovich is starting Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jerami Grant, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green against Australia. Jayson Tatum and Bam Adebayo started instead of Grant and Green against Nigeria
Shams Charania: Sources: Team USA is promoting three Select Team members — San Antonio's Keldon Johnson, Cleveland's Darius Garland and Detroit’s Saddiq Bey — for exhibition games beginning Saturday. Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton will join USAB after Finals.
Shams Charania: Strong week of National Team-Select Team practices in Las Vegas. Cam Reynolds, Josh Magette, John Jenkins and Dakota Mathias will be with Team USA for exhibition play as well.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on players recruiting each other during Olympics: "Players gonna be players, man. You gonna mingle and talk. But we're here for one goal, we're trying to win the gold medal. I think whatever comes from that -- friendships, teammates -- I think that's an afterthought..
Alex Schiffer: Speaking to the media for the first time since the Nets season ended, Kevin Durant said playing for Team USA was on his radar before Brooklyn’s playoff loss to the Bucks. Appreciated Gregg Popovich and Jerry Coangelo for letting him decide on his timeline.
Tim Reynolds: The U.S. opens the Olympics against France on July 25. Kevin Durant confirms that he's already "talking s***" to Nets teammate Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot about that game. "Yeah, he can't guard me," KD said. Oh, this is going to be fun.
Tim Reynolds: Gregg Popovich says USA Basketball will promote some players from the USA Select Team for Saturday night's exhibition in Las Vegas against Nigeria.
KC Johnson: USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich on Zach LaVine: "He's somebody who really wanted to do this. His physical skills are abundant and obvious. . . . He's willing to do anything we ask him to do."
Sports Illustrated: No one on Team USA is safe from after-practice sprints... even the coaches (via @Kevin Love)
Chris Fedor: #Cavs Darius Garland had a very minor knee-to-knee thing his first day with USA Select Team that kept him out of some of the stuff on Day One, a source tells @clevelanddotcom. But he’s been full go since and has looked really good in scrimmages, I’m told.
Tim Reynolds: Matters have accelerated significantly in the last 24-48 hours, source tells AP. Jamahl Mosley was scheduled to speak with reporters tonight about his role as a USA Select Team assistant under Erik Spoelstra; he is now not expected to make that appearance.
Rod Beard: #Blazers Damian Lillard on his role with Team USA: "I know that I'm not going to have to be in the same role as in Portland ... I think I can show that I'm a good defender without as much responsibility on the offensive end, with so much talent (on Team USA)."
Mark Medina: Suns coach Monty Williams on Devin Booker playing in the Tokyo Olympics whenever the NBA Finals ends: "Devin is one of those guys that loves to hoop." Williams added that Booker "has unreal energy."
Anthony Slater: Steph Curry said it was a "hard decision" to pass on the Olympics: "I do value the offseason. I am working out, back on the court. But to try to go and play, there's a lot that can happen...It just wasn't right for me. Very confident in that decision. No regrets."
Wes Goldberg: Draymond Green said that he didn't try to push Steph Curry to play for Team USA. "I don't need to try to push him to play for Team USA because I already know the reasons why."
Wes Goldberg: Draymond Green on why he decided to play for Team USA in the Olympics: "It was never a question for me. This is what we work for. You work for the accolades, you work to be on top of the world."
Rod Beard: Draymond Green on #Pistons Jerami Grant: "He's one of the guys in the NBA...What he's gone (to Detroit) and done is incredible. He's one of the most improved players in this league, for sure."
Omari Sanfoka II: Jerami Grant on making the Olympic team: "I was blessed when I got the call. It was an honor. I love to play the game, that’s why I’m here. I told my family, everyone was excited for me."
Omari Sanfoka II: Jerami Grant said is role on the USA Basketball team is to bring energy. "I’m going to be playing a lot of defense, hitting open shots, being aggressive when I get the opportunity."
Rod Beard: Draymond Green on the new Team USA jerseys: "Nike knocked those out of the park; they did an incredible job ... it's going to look incredible winning the gold in those uniforms."
Joe Vardon: Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said three players from the US select team (which practices against the Olympic team) are out of training camp due to testing positive to COVID-19. No Olympic player tested positive, he said.
Brian Windhorst: Immanuel Quickley, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges of the USA Select Team are out of training camp in Las Vegas due to COVID protocols, sources said. All members of Team USA were at practice today.
Wes Goldberg: Pop on what makes Draymond Green an elite defender: "a natural affinity and desire to be a great defender... understanding spatial arrangements, able to do the work early. Understanding angles and distances."
Brian Windhorst: Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart suffered an ankle injury while playing for the USA Select Team in a scrimmage against Team USA today, sources said. He left the game to get treatment.
This week at Team USA's training camp ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Popovich is getting to see Beal up close and personal to a degree he hasn't before. One thing has surprised him in particular. "He's stronger than I expected. He's a strong young man. I always used to think of him as wiry and thin, but I was totally wrong. He's thick," Popovich said.
Jason Anderson: USA Select coach Mark Few on Tyrese Haliburton: “Gosh, the first thing I think our whole staff picked up on was what a great mind he has and his basketball intelligence, and how quickly he picks up on things. He’s very perceptive and also a great communicator."
Chase Hughes: Jayson Tatum describes Bradley Beal as "A mentor and an older brother that I technically didn't have in the house [growing up]... someone that I've always looked up to and still look up to to this day."
Joe Nelson: Wolves star Anthony Edwards limps out of Team USA practice, leaning on someone to get to the team bus @JonKrawczynski @DWolfsonKSTP
Darren Wolfson: From someone in the know: “Sprain.” Ant Man limping pretty good in the video from diehard fan Joe. #Timberwolves
Chase Hughes: Bradley Beal says he didn't know he was the first Wizards player to represent the franchise and city for Team USA in the Olympics. Called it an honor.
Souichi Terada: Bradley Beal on playing with Jayson Tatum: "We're both excited. For one, we grew up 5 minutes from each other. To have two of the same guys from the same high school on the same team, I don't know if that's ever happened for USA Basketball."
Ava Wallace: After USA Basketball practice today, Gregg Popovich is asked what he likes best about Bradley Beal. "His movement. He is hard to keep up with." Pop also said Beal's stronger than he thought. Assumed was wiry but in fact, he is thick. So it shall be
Jeff Garcia: Popovich says he's hoping to see Keldon Johnson get confidence, development under Spoeltra, a better player with Select Team. He's thrilled KJ is with Select Team. #GoSpursGo #nba #USABMNT
Tim Reynolds: Pop hasn't decided on captaincy yet for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. He says he's "waiting to see where it lands."
Ira Winderman: Gregg Popovich calls Erik Spoelstra, who's guiding the USA Basketball Select Team a "fantastic young coach." Spoelstra is the second-longest-tenured coach in the NBA, to Pop.
Anthony Chiang: Popovich, speaking on Day 2 of Team USA training camp, on Bam Adebayo: "He's active, he's a rebounder, he runs. He knows how to play with teammates. ... He's going to be very valuable to us and obviously our best rebounder."
The Olympics present a stage for which the world is watching and there is a long history of athletes using the event to protest or speak out on political matters. But as Bradley Beal explained to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, the plan is for Team USA to focus on winning a gold medal. They have agreed as a team to continue working for societal change in other ways and keep this particular trip about basketball. "We've talked about that actually as a team. In all honesty, for the first time we can lay out our arms and focus on our competition and that's what we're going to do. We don't want it to get into a political protest," Beal told NBC Sports Washington.
Beal said the first team meeting held by Popovich at training camp in Las Vegas had nothing to do with basketball. He wanted to first address the elephant in the room. "Honestly, Pop will probably do the majority of that. He's not afraid. He's expressed that, he's expressed that to me. 'Shift the blame on me, I'm going to be the one to kind of lay down what's going on.' We respect that. That was very admirable from him," Beal said.
Bradley Beal: "Our first meeting wasn't about basketball, it was about life. It wasn't about hoops at all. It was about him respecting us and what we did as players, what we continue to do and what we continue to embody and the fact we're still trying to come out and win a gold medal regardless of what's happened and what's been going on. That spoke volumes. That spoke volumes. Pop, he's a legend and he will always be a legend. Yeah, so ask him. He'll be the one to ask about what's going on in the world."
Kobe Bryant wore No. 24 and No. 8 with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he donned No. 10 for USA Basketball when he helped the Americans capture gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Jayson Tatum has worn that number as part of U.S. teams several times since — and will wear it at the Tokyo Olympics, where the Americans will aim to capture a fourth consecutive gold medal. “With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value,” Tatum said. “It’s not something I take lightly.”
Tatum knew Bryant well. They worked out together and Bryant offered him advice many times. “I remember one talk, it might have been after a game, and he was saying that a lot of people won’t understand what you do,” Tatum said. “He said, ‘What I mean by that is, the ones that really want to be great and really want to be special really take that whatever-it-takes mentality.’ He told me it takes sacrifice, because the ultimate question is about how much are you willing to give up to be great.”
When he decided not to play in the 2016 Olympics, the number ended up with Kyrie Irving — another player who idolizes Bryant, just as Tatum does. And now, as was the case when the U.S. went to the Basketball World Cup two years ago, the jersey is Tatum’s. “For JT to have this moment, I’m happy for him, genuinely,” U.S. center Bam Adebayo said. “I’ve known JT since I was 12. He deserves everything he’s getting and he’s going to keep deserving more because he’s such a great player. I’m happy for him. That’s his idol, and he gets to represent that number. I know he’s going to have that ‘Mamba Mentality’ when he puts that 10 on.”
Gerald Bourguet: Monty Williams was asked about Devin Booker playing in the Olympics coming off a Finals run. He said he hasn't talked to Book about it, but he knows Devin wants to play and he doesn't see any reason why he shouldn't play. "Book likes to hoop."
Paul Garcia: Keldon Johnson on training against Coach Pop and Team USA: "It's going to be a little weird because he coached me all year, but I mean hopefully he don't give them to much of a great scouting report. But if he does, I'm just going to go at him, make Coach Pop get on the guys."
One of the first players to commit was Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who let go of old scar tissue. Lillard is still bitter about what happened in 2014 when he was the final cut before Team USA went to Spain for the World Cup, sources said. Lillard felt he had secured a spot on the roster that year after talking to then-head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but the team pivoted and kept an extra center. The Blazers' star said all the right things publicly, but the decision burned him for years.
With a new coach to play for, Popovich, and knowing this could be a last chance at the Olympics, Lillard played an important role in gaining momentum toward building out the roster. "When we talk to players about committing to the team, one of the things they always want to know is who else is committed," Colangelo said. "Lillard was one of the first and it was crucial."
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant has been working out daily at a facility in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and eagerly wanted to make the roster. Coming into the week, Ford had let Grant know he was one of three or four players being considered for the last spots after Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden withdrew because of a hamstring injury. Colangelo called Wednesday morning with the official offer, which Grant immediately accepted. When he told his mother, Beverly, that he had made the Olympic Team, her tears quickly followed. A factor in the choice was Durant and Lillard lobbying Popovich on Grant's behalf, sources said.
Khris Middleton ordinarily wouldn't be thinking about anything right now other than what the Milwaukee Bucks are trying to accomplish in the NBA playoffs. An invitation to play in the Olympics, that's not ordinary. Milwaukee starting guards Middleton and Jrue Holiday plan to play for the U.S. in the Tokyo Olympics next month, yet both insist that isn't distracting them from the Bucks' quest to win the franchise's first NBA title in 50 years. "We're in the middle of a championship run," Middleton said. "To take a second to think about something outside of this season, it was a little tough to think about it. But it was an easy decision for me to go ahead and commit."
Middleton said it was "a little bit challenging" to make the Olympic decision during the playoff run but that he was able to refocus quickly once he made the commitment to USA Basketball. Holiday also said it wasn't an overly difficult choice. "I don't think I had to move my focus," Holiday said. "I think it's an honor to play for your country, especially an opportunity like this to be able to go out there and have 'USA' on your chest."
Jay Wright will join Popovich, the head coach, and fellow assistants Kerr and Lloyd Pierce, the former Atlanta Hawks head coach and 76ers assistant, on the sidelines for Team USA when it starts play at the Tokyo Olympics on July 25. He is to leave for Las Vegas on July 3 for the start of preseason workouts three days later. “It’s a really challenging coaching opportunity because they’re not coaching their own guys, so it’s really interesting to watch them handle each situation,” Wright, who will be coaching in his first Olympics, said Wednesday.
Wright was part of the coaching staff in 2018 when Team USA participated in the FIBA World Cup. That was his introduction to “learning Pop’s terminology, learning Pop’s structure for practice and team meetings and staff meetings and all the logistics.” “Steve played for him, and he picked it up a little faster,” Wright said. “Lloyd being in the NBA, he picked it up a little faster. They have a lot of common NBA terminology that’s different than college. So that was, for me, a great experience learning all that terminology. I’m actually reviewing it before we meet again in Las Vegas.”
Wright said flexibility is a key in the case of Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who may have to meet the team in Tokyo if the Suns make the NBA Finals. The same is true with two Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern finals, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.
Duane Rankin: After talking with those in the know, don't rule out Deandre Ayton playing for USA in a future Olympics.. They know he's from Bahamas, too. There are rules, but there are exceptions too. I'm going to leave it at that for now and get ready for Game 2. Look to have more later.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Milwaukee guard Jrue Holiday has committed to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics, source tells ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul has declined an invitation to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics, league sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: USA Basketball has known that Paul was trending toward this decision for several days, per sources. If Suns reach NBA Finals, there would be virtually no break before end of his NBA season and start of July Olympics in Tokyo.
Chris Fedor: I’m hearing #Cavs center and restricted free agent Jarrett Allen, who was added as a finalist in March, is not going to play for Team USA at the Olympics. USAB wants him to be part of the Select Team, which is something he could still do.
Tim Reynolds: Two more Olympic developments to watch in the coming days, per people in the know: Paul George and Chris Paul are still in decision-making mode. With CP3, it's obviously a bit more complicated now, but there are some who believe there's still a real chance he decides to play.
Shams Charania: Warriors star Stephen Curry has opted against playing for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, sources tell me and @Anthony Slater. Curry had been deciding on participating over the last few weeks, and USAB expected him to be out of the available pool.
Adrian Wojnarowski: After getting an invitation to join Team USA for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has declined the opportunity, sources tell ESPN. Instead, Mitchell will use the time to recover and rehab from his right ankle injury.
Tim Reynolds: USA Basketball is working under the premise that Golden State guard Stephen Curry will not play in the Tokyo Olympics, a person with knowledge tells AP.
Shams Charania: Nets star James Harden has committed to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, joining teammate Kevin Durant on the USAB squad, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Kyrie Irving is unlikely to play as he recovers from his ankle injury.
Kristian Winfield: Sean Marks says he has no problem with Kevin Durant playing in the Tokyo Olympics, so long as he's met the physical markers: "It's very difficult to turn down playing for your country.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo has committed to join the 12-man Team USA roster for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, his agent Alex Saratsis tells ESPN.
Kellan Olson: Devin Booker said it's a blessing to be a part of Team USA for the Olympics but that his full attention right now is on this playoff run and the Phoenix Suns.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker has committed to join the 12-man Team USA roster for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, sources tell ESPN.
Marc Stein: The most pressing issue, obviously, is his availability for the Western Conference finals, but Phoenix's Chris Paul has been actively pursued this month by @usabasketball for a spot on the Tokyo Olympic team, league sources say. Lots for Paul, 36, to weigh amid a deep playoff run
Shams Charania: Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal has committed to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon. Beal joins Portland’s Damian Lillard, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Golden State’s Draymond Green among initial pledges.
Tim Reynolds: As The Athletic and the Washington Post reported, Bradley Beal does intend to play for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics. Jayson Tatum still "leaning" that way; Damian Lillard has already committed.
Ime Udoka has received strong reviews from Celtics players who played for the U.S. National team in the 2019 World Cup tournament, sources said. Udoka was an assistant under national coach Gregg Popovich. Udoka joined Steve Nash's staff this year after one season with the Sixers and seven years under Popovich with the Spurs.
Portland’s All-NBA guard — who will be headed to the Olympics for the first time — explained some of his thinking Thursday about why he committed to the national team, which will gather in Las Vegas early next month to start training camp and play a series of exhibitions. “Pop being the coach of the national team played a big role in my decision to commit,” Lillard said. “I have a lot of respect for Pop as a coach and as a person. I look forward to playing for him, taking in his basketball knowledge and seeing what our team can do.”
Plenty of players have spoken about the lure of playing for Popovich, the San Antonio coach with five NBA championships. Knowing that Lillard is on the roster might help sway others to commit as well. “I’m just hoping we can put together a team of great players that fit as one,” Lillard said. “I don’t necessarily want them to say, `Oh, Dame is playing so I should play,’ but I do hope they see that top players are making the commitment and look at it as an opportunity to be a part of something special.”
“I remember watching the Redeem Team and it looked so fun,” Lillard said. “So many stars on one team being able to just play together unselfishly and have fun. That team connected basketball with the best players in the world. It just looked like a great time and they looked so free of their normal responsibility on their NBA teams. I became very interested in USAB because of that. It means a lot to add this to experience and represent my family and country on a major stage that I have not been on.”
The American men’s and women’s senior national teams are partnering with MGM Resorts International and will conduct their training camps in July at MGM properties ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the company announced Thursday morning. Training camp begins July 6, and the teams will play a combined seven exhibition games against other national teams at Michelob Ultra Arena from July 10 to July 18.
“USA Basketball is proud to expand its partnership with MGM Resorts. We’re excited to bring our national teams to their properties as we prepare for the challenging competition that lies ahead this summer,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said in a statement. “Training camps are such an important foundation for our preparation and having such a strong commitment from MGM positions us for great success.”
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.
July 1, 2022 | 7:27 pm EDT Update
Brad Turner: Sources: Lakers have a strong interest in reuniting with free-agent center Thomas Bryant, but with LA just having the veteran minimum to offer he’s in no rush to make a decision. Plus, the Lakers have competition for the services of Bryant, as Toronto is also interested.
Southern University’s Fabulous Dancing Dolls are set to star in the third season of “Why Not Us?,” an ESPN+ series that has NBA All-Star point guard Chris Paul as its executive producer. In eight episodes beginning Aug. 11, “Why Not Us? Southern Dance” will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a member of the Dancing Dolls from tryouts through the year.
July 1, 2022 | 7:04 pm EDT Update
Andy Larsen: FWIW: I’m hearing some pushback regarding the idea that the Jazz are definitely keeping Donovan Mitchell moving forward. Sense is that the Jazz are keeping their options open here: they could retool around Mitchell, or trade him for a massive haul to jumpstart a rebuild. In particular, watch Miami. Obviously, Kevin Durant is their No. 1 target, but if that doesn’t work out, they have been and will continue to be aggressive re: Donovan Mitchell.
Clutch Points: “That shit killed me. He said he ain’t touched the rock?! … He can be so much better than what he is. I don’t know what’s around him. I would love to be able to work with somebody like that.” Kevin Garnett on Lakers’ star Anthony Davis 👀 pic.twitter.com/7wf5VABWG4