NBA rumors: Pau Gasol done with Spain, not sure about club career

Pau, 41, confirmed his retirement on COPE, stating that he will now reflect and assess his future, while he has not decided about retirement yet. He spent the previous season with FC Barcelona. During his time with the senior Spanish NT, he has won 11 medals in three different international competitions, including gold in the 2006 FIBA World Cup and gold at the 2009, 2011 and 2015 EuroBasket.

More on Olympic Games

Ben Golliver: USA’s Kevin Durant after advancing to semifinals of Tokyo Olympics with win over Spain: “We’ve got to finish it. We’re supposed to be here. For us, it’s about getting the gold.”
Kristian Winfield: Kevin Durant said Jayson Tatum could one day break his Olympic scoring record. Tatum: “I’ve got a long way to go… but imma try.”
Casey Holdahl: USA 95, Spain 81: FINAL. 11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds for @Damian Lillard. USA now moves on to play the winner of Australia vs. Argentina in a semifinal game that will air at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Best scoring marks against Team USA at the Olympic Games: Manu Ginobili: 29 points Pau Gasol: 29 points Patrick Mills: 30 points Oscar Schmidt: 31 points Butch Lee: 35 points RICKY RUBIO: 38 points
StatMuse: Ricky Rubio vs USA: 38 PTS 13-20 FG 4-7 3P 8-8 FT He scored 38 of Spain’s 81 points (47%). pic.twitter.com/mhOeJbdiz9
Gasol, a European and NBA legend, said Spain has a unique opportunity to defeat the Americans and reach the semi-finals. “We have to compete for each possession and believe in ourselves, play smart, limit mistakes. It is a unique opportunity to beat them, to do something very special we have never achieved in the Olympic Games,” Pau Gasol said, via Mundo Deportivo.
Holiday has been arguably the Americans’ top all-around player at the Olympics, averaging 12.3 points, four rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals. He came off the bench in the loss to France (but led the team with 18 points and seven boards) because he’d arrived to Tokyo about a day earlier from the NBA Finals. He’s made winning plays, some show up in the box score and some don’t, and he gives Team USA’s potentially potent offense a facilitator and rugged defender at the other end. “I think (my game) fits,” Holiday said. “I feel like I’m here to assist, I’m here to rebound, I’m here to penetrate and make plays for other people, and then pick up full court and be really aggressive defensively. It’s right in my wheelhouse.”
While big-name stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry will be focusing on their futures, some players are trying to keep their eye on the present. That includes Batum, who doesn't have a contract for next season but insists his only concern is his next game. "It's not easy, I mean, from the outside, but for me it's pretty easy,'' Batum said. "I know where I have to focus on.''
Same with Batum, whom LA Clippers president Lawrence Frank said the team hopes to re-sign. The forward said that is being left to his agent. "I have to make sure my team, myself get ready for the next game because that's a big game and the rest will take of itself,'' said Batum, the French captain.
Some players wait a lifetime for the opportunity to cash in the way he's about to. France has also waited a lifetime to win an Olympic gold medal. Fournier has to juggle all that at once. "It's so unfortunate that I'm going to have to give an answer on the day of the quarterfinal,'' he said. "Hopefully, teams are going to be nice and they can understand that I don't want to rush anything and at least I can wait until after the game.''
Tatum is healthy now and is also coming off his best game in a Team USA uniform, with 27 points and five 3s in a 35-point win over the Czech Republic Saturday night. Tatum was terrible in that exhibition win over Spain (3-of-9 shooting) and in the Olympics-opening loss to France (3-of-9 shooting); he scored 17 but was 2-of-7 from 3 in the 54-point win over Iran. “I don’t know,” Tatum said Saturday night, when asked why he thought he’d gotten off to a slow start. “New environment, new basketball, different style of basketball, the rules are different, playing on a new team, it’s a lot of things. But I was never worried, never concerned. I knew that shots would fall eventually and start to feel good about yourself, and then it’s just basketball.”
Spain is much closer in that department and has the discipline to run an offense that could exploit some of Team USA’s defensive switches. Unless Tatum is back to his old self, and the Americans we’ve seen in the last two games are the collective pieces of a set that is not going to suffer another setback. Any more of those, and the gold medal chase is over. These games really count now. “Our confidence never wavered,” Tatum said. “We understood that it wasn’t gonna be easy. We didn’t have our full team until four days ago, five days ago, so we knew that we had a lot of challenges ahead of us. And we also know that we would continue to get better every day, we would get better from each game, each practice, just the more time that we spent together, we were never going to be the same team, from day one, that we are now. And hopefully we’re better this time next week than we were today.”
Ben Golliver: 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's basketball bracket is set. USA will face Spain, the reigning FIBA World Cup champions, in quarterfinals. If USA wins, would face Australia or Argentina in semis. - France vs. Italy - Slovenia vs. Germany --- - USA vs. Spain - Australia vs. Argentina
And there’s actually a runaway No. 1 as far as the club with the most male basketball players participating: Real Madrid, the team that produced a certain Luka Doncic, who just tied the record for second-most points ever scored in an Olympic basketball contest. The storied Spanish club leads the way with eight players taking part in the Olympic Games this summer, followed by Fenerbahce out of the Turkish League, Australia’s Melbourne United, the Miami Heat (the NBA team with most male basketball representatives in Tokyo), Olimpia Milano (Italy) and Union Olimpija (Slovenia), all of whom have four players at the Games.
Brian Lewis: Durant on passing Carmelo: “Its still weird for me to do stuff like this because I play a team sport& I try my hardest to make it about the group. But it is special to do something like that. Scoring is something I’ve worked on my whole career and expanded my whole career.” #nets
The victory assured Team USA second place in their group and a place in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Their opponent and game time will be determined in a draw Sunday with the only certainty being there cannot be a rematch with France until at least the semifinals. Because of their two blowouts wins the last two games, Team USA will end up with a favorable position and avoid top medal contenders Australia, Spain and potentially even Luka Doncic-led Slovenia in the quarters.
John Karalis: Kevin Durant in a postgame interview is talking about becoming the all-time Team USA leading scorer... as Jayson Tatum walks by Durant says "this guy to the left is going to be the next guy to break the record"
Pau Gasol wasn’t done playing. That was the thought that’s driven him here to these Olympic Games, trying to write the final pages of his career on his terms. “I love the game. I wanted to finish my career playing,” Gasol said after Spain’s Olympic debut. “I had such an incredible and extraordinary career that I didn't want an injury to finish it for me.”
So Gasol is in Tokyo for one last run with the Spanish national team, a group he’s had tremendous success with. He’s enjoying this ride with his brother, Marc, the two men sharing time on the long bus trips back and forth from the basketball venue outside Tokyo. “I'm very happy for him. I'm proud of him. He didn't have to do this,” Marc Gasol said. "You know, he's done everything you can do as a professional athlete. He’s a role model in every level that you can be as a human being and as an athlete. … I don't want to put words in his mouth but he wanted to show himself and everybody that he cares so much about the sport and he wanted to leave it on that note on playing on the court. “So I'm just proud of him. That's it. Just watching him, enjoying every second, every bus ride. ... It's been a lot of fun to watch him do this.”
Joe Vardon: Excellent win for Team USA, given that it trailed by 7 at the end of one quarter. Jayson Tatum scored 27 and Kevin Durant added 23, and USA beat Czech Republic, 119-84, clinching the top No. 2 seed. It means a favorable matchup in the quarterfinals. More to come @The Athletic
Gary Washburn: Nigeria's Chimezie Metu, tore into the country's govt and Olympic committee for mistreatment of NGR athletes. "I'd like to use this time to bring awareness and comment on the off-the-court things a lot of Nigerian athletes have had to go through. in these Olympics." #Tokyo2020
Brown said four members of his staff who made the trip to Japan — which wound up being a 30-hour ordeal instead of the planned 10-hour flight, another issue that Metu blamed on a lack of organization — were never allowed in the Olympic village because of credential and paperwork issues “I don’t know why it is this way,” said Brown, who started a foundation earlier this year seeking financial help for the men’s basketball program.
Australia upped its Group B record to 3-0 and secured first place with the 89-76 victory versus Germany on Saturday. Patty Mills packed a game-high 24 points and also dished out six assists leading the way. Jock Landale with 18 points and Nick Kay with 16 points delivered a large chunk of the 42-28 points edge in the paint.
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.
Colangelo on Trae Young: “I’m happy that he wants to play for USA Basketball. We had him in one of our camps. We know him in USA Basketball. He’s done really well in the NBA. But predicated on what we felt we needed, he didn’t fit the bill this time around. He’s a young player, he has a future with USA Basketball but it was the opinion of our staff that it wasn’t now. It’s for others to make the declaration ‘you made a mistake.’”
Can roster continuity ever return? Colangelo: “Some things are under your control and some things are not. When I took over I did have some control over setting the tone. I did want a three-year commitment. I needed three-year commitments and I got them. Be it from Carmelo, LeBron, Wade, Chris Paul, etc. We had a good format where we had competition every two years. But the powers that be changed the format and they thought it was going to be a positive — and I immediately said it may be good for the rest of the world but it’s not for USA Basketball.”
As for the players, Colangelo pointed to injuries to Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart that did them in during the World Cup, and the pandemic-condensed schedule that kept a quarter of the roster away because they were in the Finals. And also, this team, as constructed, can still win gold. “If we had everyone in training camp at one time and we were working collectively toward all of our goals and objectives, we would have been much further along. … If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set, blah blah blah, I don’t think we’d be having this discussion. I don’t. But that’s not the case. So we are gonna do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will.” — Colangelo
Spain players Marc Gasol, Alberto Abalde and Usman Garuba have been placed in semi-isolation after coming into close contact with with a person who tested positive for COVID-19,EFE reports, citing confirmation by the Spanish Federation. All three players can practice and play in the games but have to stay in individual rooms and travel in a different vehicle than the rest of the national team squad.
"If we don't win, people will have their opportunity to take shots. I'm the one that has to look in the mirror and know that I did my best," Colangelo said. "I'll tell you in advance the answer is yes. I believe we're going to win."
"A lot of (players) called me and said they wanted to play, and then said, 'hmm, I'm not so sure.' I can understand it, there's been a lot of things going on," Colangelo said. "It's challenging when you can't even go out the door, except to practice or to a game. It's really hard. If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set...I don't think we'd be having this discussion. I don't. But that's not the case. So we are going do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will."
Were mistakes made in roster construction? Colangelo on Kevin Love: “I didn’t think Kevin Love was gonna play. I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play. He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. And on the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience who at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball. You know, being like a 12th man on a roster. Well, it didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake. Call it giving someone an opportunity. Someone who had equity with us. Guys who play for us get a little plus.”
Are Popovich, his staff and the players who did sign up to blame for any of the losses? Colangelo: “Pop is a very committed guy and he’s very focused, and he’s been, he feels he’s got some things he wants to get accomplished here. He’s got a track record in terms of USA basketball that he would like to see rectified. And so a lot at stake for him. In terms of our total staff, I think they’re terrific guys, great basketball guys. I have great trust in them. I don’t think they are responsible for anything that’s happened, I really don’t.”
This has nothing to do with the proliferation of international talent that’s been causing Team USA trouble or a delayed NBA Finals that prohibited one-quarter of the Olympic team from joining in until just before the first game. Popovich’s famous wine-soaked dinners have been, at best, subdued at the Tokyo Games by restrictions related to COVID-19. “I feel like it’s not the same, you know, having been with Pop at the (World Cup),” said Jay Wright, a Team USA assistant and Villanova head coach. “We are locked in here, so I can tell you it’s not the same. (Chief of staff) Sean Ford is working hard at it, but it’s not the same. I’m feeling for Pop, but he’s handled it well.”
Brady Hawk: Bam Adebayo from Tokyo: “I talk to Jrue (Holiday) mainly from a defensive standpoint. Just how he gets steals, his instincts off-ball.” Also mentions “getting a chemistry with Dame” (Lillard): “I play center, he plays point guard, so we gotta build a connection in the PnR.”
Two different emerging stories after Spain claims the win, 81-71, against Argentina on Thursday. Ricky Rubio after recovering from an early injury punched in a team-high 26 points, also a personal-best in FIBA competitions. He was coming off 22 points in the opener. He made 8/13 field goals, including 5/6 threes in his second appearance in Tokyo’s Saitama Super Arena. The team led by Sergio Scariolo fought its way out of a nine-point hole and remained in charge for most of the Group C fixture of the Olympic Games basketball tournament.
Luka Doncic and Zoran Dragic did their part to help the Slovenian selection grab its second-ever Olympic victory with a 116-81 showdown against Japan on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament. With two wins in this group, the selection cannot finish lower than third, and even if so happens, they would still be better than the third-place team from Group A (USA or Czech Republic. Doncic, who entered the court coming from a 48-point debut on Tuesday, had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in this victory, while Dragic added 24 points on 10-13 FG and 4 rebounds. Vlatko Cancar left the court with 16 points, Klemen Prepelic added 12, Jaka Blazic had 10, as all 12 players scored for coach Aleksander Sekulic.
Jorge Sierra: Luka Doncic is 11-0 in major tournaments with Slovenia (population 2.1 million). 15-0 if you include the Olympic qualifiers. That's pretty staggering.
And two players from the Bucks are not only also on the American team, but circumstances were such that the three had to share a private plane ride across the Pacific last weekend — a day after the Bucks’ championship parade. “The memories are there, but it’s nothing personal between us,” Booker said. “We lost and that’s it, and I’m man enough to accept that and move on. There’s no hate towards Jrue or K Mid.”
Months after LeBron James lost a Finals, he’d always say it was something he’d never get over. Good thing he never had to be Devin Booker, who barely had 10 minutes to try and put it behind him. “I’m a forward thinker and able to move onto the next thing, and be able to take my ‘L’ and move on,” Booker said Wednesday, in his first comments since the night his Phoenix Suns lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, eight days ago.
Booker’s coach on Team USA, Gregg Popovich, and teammate Draymond Green (not to mention assistant coach Steve Kerr, but we digress) have been in Booker’s shoes, having lost a Finals. He said Popovich and Green discussed it with him “in short conversation.” “Talkin’ about it with Draymond, and him stressing the fact that it’s not gonna be that easy to get back to the Finals,” Booker said. “I remember us as a team saying that in the locker room after we lost — you know we’ve got to understand, it’s going to be even harder to make it to the point we were at. … But I’m excited for the experience. It was great. I am glad I got to do it, obviously ended up on the wrong side of the stick, but that’s life.”
"It's a HUGE deal," former NBA player Raja Bell said of the international ball in a text with CBS Sports on Tuesday. "I've always said that FIBA balls affected my shot and other NBA players' shots tremendously. I HATE that ball! "It's lighter, feels smaller, different texture," Bell continued. "I mean, when the art of shooting is based on muscle memory, and you change all the factors except the rim size and height, it's going to be difficult."
In another exchange with a Western Conference scout, the conclusion was similar. "[The ball is] definitely a factor," the scout said. "How big a factor I guess depends on the particular player. But it's an adjustment for everyone. Some guys are going to make [the adjustment] easier than others." And another text from an Eastern Conference scout with international playing experience: "It's pretty different, and it takes some getting used to. It's much softer than NBA or college basketballs."

http://twitter.com/eric_nehm/status/1420219972115173376
No one would dare suggest that the Popovich legacy is riding on a turnaround in Tokyo, but these next 10 or so days likely amount to his last shot to rewrite some of the eyesore chapters of a mostly storybook journey. "We'll win the gold medal," Don Nelson, another longtime Popovich friend and fan like Brown, said over the phone the other day. "He'll figure it out,” Nelson said.
In 2012, with arguably the greatest Olympic basketball team ever, the Americans averaged 115.5 points. Durant was on that team with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. In 2008, Team USA averaged 106.2 points per game, and in 2016, the Durant-led USAB averaged 109.9 points. Previous World Cup teams were equally proficient scorers. But it’s fallen off the map since Popovich took over, and at least publicly no one seems to want to address why. As The Athletic reported Monday morning, players were visibly and audibly frustrated after losing to France, lamenting that they were running the “Spurs’ offense,” or a system that, in the opinion of the players logging the complaint, seemed to limit scoring ability.
“We know how to play with each other, we know how to make the right pass, and nobody here is expecting to lead the team in shot attempts,” Durant said. “We know we have guys that can catch and shoot the basketball. “The teams I played on, the last two or three teams, I might have 30 one night and I might have 20 the next night. … Nobody came in saying we’re going to start the game off giving the ball to Kobe or me or Bron. We have guys that have high IQ, and whatever is presented to us, we adapt.”
As he further explained, he enjoys “being a star” in Tokyo. “It is a very special day for Slovenia,” said Doncic about the nation’s Olympic debut as adapted by Marca, a game in which he was only seven points away from tying the scoring record in the Olympics held by Oscar Schmidt (55 points). Despite this huge feat, Doncic takes it day by day. “I don’t care about the records, we wanted a victory and that’s what we came for”. “I like being a star of the Games; I feel good to be one of the stars if I am”, said Doncic, who also joked about the photos taken in the Olympic Village. “I’m taking a lot of photos, yes, there could be more, although the one with the most photos is Djokovic”.
Gigantes del Basket: Someone has a message for Luka Doncic. Oscar Schmidt: "I hope you break my record"

http://twitter.com/GIGANTESbasket/status/1419952877745975298
Dwain Price: And the final score is: Slovenia 118, Argentina 100. In his Olympic debut Luka finished with 48-11-5. He was 18-of-29 from the floor and 6-of-14 from downtown. In other words, Luka shopped for the groceries, cooked the food and ate up everything. He was the top chef tonight.#Mavs
Serbia’s Dusan Bulut, “the 3x3 GOAT,” hesitated too. “Five-on-five players come to 3x3, they need some period of adjustment,” Bulut said. Indeed, when asked if NBA players could come in and waltz to gold, the prevailing opinion expressed among 3x3 stars was: not so fast. Sometimes partly in jest, sometimes genuinely. “I don't think every 5-on-5 player will adjust quickly to 3x3,” Dominique Jones, the top American player in FIBA’s world rankings, told Yahoo Sports. “It's not just you coming up and playing, and you're just gonna beat one of the top teams.”
Ryan Ward: Team USA Basketball remains the favorite to win gold in Tokyo after today’s loss to France, according to @SportsBettingAG : USA -300, Australia +800, Spain +900, France +1100, Slovenia +1800, Italy +2500, Argentina +3300, Nigeria +4000
To be clear, Popovich is horrified by his own record coaching this team. He dwells on it and hates the losing. The players are frustrated, too, grumbling on their way back to the locker room about “running the San Antonio offense” when apparently they feel like there are better ideas. Pop has said, because of the truncated nature of Team USA’s training camp, the offense would be based on “concepts” instead of set plays.
"I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it's not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start," said Lillard, who was just 3-of-10 shooting and had two hurtful turnovers late in the game. "I think that's why a lot of people will make it seem like the end of the world, but our job as professionals and this team and representing our country at the Olympics, we've got to do what's necessary and we still can accomplish what we came here to accomplish."
The Americans now will likely have to win their final two pool play games against Iran and Czech Republic to advance to the medal round. They could technically advance on scoring margin if they lose another game, however. "We were just trying too hard to do the right thing," Lillard said. "Instead of just being who we are -- the best players in the NBA."
“People shouldn’t be surprised that the French team or the Australian team or the Spanish team or the Lithuanian team… It doesn’t matter who it is — the gap in talent shrinks every year, as there are more and more great players all over the world. And you need to give the French team credit for playing well, they were more consistent than we were at both ends of the court. It’s as simple as that,” coach Popovich said while explaining why France’s two wins over the USA in the last two games aren’t a surprise.
Tim Legler on USA's loss: "You don't have great role definition on this team... It's sort of a 'my turn, your turn' type of philosophy offensively. When the talent discrepancy is not nearly as great as it used to be, you're gonna run into some problems."
“I’m rooting for Coach Popovich and the U.S. Team,’’ Ewing told The Post in an emailed interview. “It’s an unfortunate time we’re living in right now — losing players to COVID-19 protocols. It’s harder to play now because of the Dream Team. All of the current players grew up looking up to us and watching us dominate the rest of the world. But the rest of the world caught up. “There are so many talented players. Some of the NBA’s top players today come from all over the world. It wasn’t like that back then.’’
StatMuse: Team USA had scored below 80 points only once in the last 56 Olympic games since 1992. They scored 76 points today on 36/31/76% shooting. pic.twitter.com/sF3nGovqIt
Ben Golliver: France's Evan Fournier after beating USA Basketball in Tokyo Olympic opener: "They are better individually but they can be beaten as a team."
Gary Washburn: Evan Fournier said he does not see the Olympic tournament as a type of free-agent showcase for himself, said he isn't thinking about free agency. "I'm completely here" (with France). #Celtics #Tokyo2020
Joe Vardon: The Americans' 25-game Olympic winning streak is over. They lose in pool play for the first time since 2004, falling 82-76 to France (again!) in the tournament opener for both teams. Evan Fournier killed TUSA with 28 points. USAB is 6-3 under Pop. More to come @The Athletic.
Jorge Sierra: First Olympic loss for Team USA since falling to Argentina in 2004. Lamar Odom led the U.S. with 14 points and LeBron James played three minutes in that game ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Jorge Sierra: All-Stars at the Games through the years 1992: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1996: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2000: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2004: ⭐⭐⭐ 2008: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2012: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2016: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2021: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Of course, no All-Star before 1992. That's all of the teams combined, not just Team USA. The tournament Team USA lost is the one that featured the least star power.
The Boomers, who had 21 turnovers of their own and shot at 39 per cent from the field, were also let off the hook by Nigeria's poor 12-of-24 free throw shooting. "The areas of concern for us in the game were expected; we were choppy in the half-court ... and the flow of the game we made a lot of poor decisions," Goorjian said. "But this group ... we've focused on defence and I thought that was good and got better and was the reason for the victory."
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.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 1412 more rumors
More HoopsHype Rumors
September 16, 2021 | 8:36 pm EDT Update
NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was in Greece for a meeting with the country’s prime minister Thursday and a special ceremony to bestow Greek citizenship on his mother Veronica and younger brother Alex. Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship in July, attended the ceremony at the official residence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The 26-year-old Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants. He was granted Greek citizenship in 2013, allowing him to travel to the United States and join the Bucks later that year.
“We always felt Greek, but now we have an official stamp and we are happy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the ceremony. “Alex and my mom are Greek citizens now.” Antetokounmpo also traveled to Greece in August with his brother Thanassis, carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy. He took the trophy to the ancient Acropolis in Athens to celebrate with members of his family.
September 16, 2021 | 8:07 pm EDT Update
Keith Smith: Current Boston Celtics TPEs: $17,142,857- Evan Fournier – expires 7/18/22 $9,720,900- Tristan Thompson – expires 7/7/22 $5,096,479- Kemba Walker – expires 5/17/22 $500,000- Moses Brown – expires 6/27/22 $370,564- Jeff Teague – expires 2/11/22 Reminder: TPEs cannot be combined together! 2/2