Popovich’s coaching staff in Tokyo included Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University men’s head basketball coach Jay Wright. Hill told The Undefeated that he hopes to hire a new coach for USA Basketball before the 2021-22 NBA season begins on Oct. 19. A source told The Undefeated a current NBA coach with previous USA Basketball experience would likely be hired as the next coach of the team. Other possible candidates with USA Basketball coaching experience include the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers, Atlanta Hawks’ Nate McMillan, Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams, New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau and Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra. Another potential candidate is former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, who has coached USA Basketball in qualifying play in recent years.
When asked what type of coach he’d like to hire for USA Basketball, Hill said: “Someone who understands and has a healthy respect for the international game. The dynamics are a bit different in that environment than they are in the NBA regular season. You’re going to be dealing with some tough love of players, and being able to mentor them. That’ll check the boxes, if you will. “Someone who can manage a locker room, who understands the international play, obviously can coach, and understands this isn’t over. Spending the last year just really studying the international game, it’s different. It’s a different game than our game, and understanding that and respecting that is vitally important and not just for the staff but for the players as well.”
Hill said that USA Basketball will probably host a minicamp with its national team next summer. Despite the daunting pressures and challenges that come with USA Basketball keeping its power status, the new managing director says he is embracing the tough golden opportunity. “We’re all alone in terms of what those expectations are,” Hill said. “You don’t run from that. That’s something you welcome, you embrace, and you recognize that you’re supposed to win. There’s a tremendous amount that goes into the process, and the other teams have been together for years, they have continuity, it’s a different game, there’s a little bit more physicality …
In discussing his new role as Managing Director of USA Basketball, Grant Hill said a mouthful when looking back at what transpired this summer with the United States men's national team and the Tokyo Olympics. He called Kevin Durant “maybe the best offensive player of all time.” That may not sit well with his old rivals in Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, among others, but anyone who watched Durant lead the American team to the gold medal would at least say that Hill has a valid argument as he plunges into his newest job.
“What is encouraging is that we had the best offensive player, maybe of all time, wanting to be a part of it, along with a lot of our best young guys wanting to be a part of it,” Hill told BasketballNews.com in his first interview since taking over the position previously held by Jerry Colangelo. “I do believe there is a widespread excitement and desire to be a part of it.”
Hill said he will definitely field a team of NBA players; that is despite suggestions from some corners that the Americans should use a team that has already competed under the Team USA banner, such as the Under-19 team led by Gonzaga recruit (and likely the 2022 NBA Draft's top pick) Chet Holmgren. “Every generation of players is different, so the challenge is what can we do to make it interesting and welcoming so that players will want to be a part of it,” Hill said. “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and making it work.”
As one well-placed observer passed along recently, another way to put it is that Curry is 33 going on 29 in the Warriors’ eyes, thanks also to the copious prep work he puts in and how he looks after himself. You’ll notice that Golden State didn’t hesitate last week when it was time to make him the first player in league history to land a second $200 million contract.
"He's the best shooter who ever lived," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry when I reached him Saturday, hours after the Americans had turned back France in the gold-medal game, 87-82, to send a relieved Popovich off in red, white and blue glory at last and halt a two-game losing streak to Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert and Co. "Steph can absolutely play on the Olympic team three years from now," Kerr said.
Adam Himmelsbach: Jaylen Brown happy to get a hold of Jayson Tatum’s gold medal for a minute haha pic.twitter.com/4Mu9dzDY5b
The Vertical: Pop is living his best life as a gold medalist 🤣🥇 (via @Draymond Green) pic.twitter.com/wGcY0qxJNl
RJ Marquez: Kevin Durant with a message to those who doubted Team USA and Gregg Popovich. This was on Instagram live: “They were talking s*** about Pop saying he couldn’t get us to lock in…stop playing man! We were going to get this dub.” pic.twitter.com/xCQxeh4CwL
Ben Golliver: USA’s Kevin Durant puts his gold medal on coach Gregg Popovich pic.twitter.com/DctU3463at
Tim Reynolds: Pop on the guys putting the medals on him: “It felt like I was here.” Pop is Pop, man.
Mike Finger: Draymond Green, feeling good after ceremony, wraps arm around Keldon Johnson. “We got a young 21-year-old they said shouldn’t be here. They gave Pop sh*t for it. And he brought more energy than anybody. That’s what we needed.”
Ben Golliver: 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's basketball medal stand Gold: USA (16th gold, 19th medal) Silver: France (3rd silver, 3rd medal) Bronze: Australia (1st ever medal) pic.twitter.com/BzvWMb2F3N
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.
Damian Lillard: Keep this s--- off big dog desk lol… thank you
Grant Hill was not looking for new things to do. He’s on the board of trustees at Duke, his alma mater where he played for Mike Krzyzewski. He’s an investor, broadcaster, public speaker, member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, co-owner and vice chairman of the Atlanta Hawks, and a member of the board of directors at the NCAA. He says no to plenty of things. And then USA Basketball came calling.
That call led to Hill adding one more job to his portfolio. When the Tokyo Olympics end, he will replace Jerry Colangelo and become managing director of USA Basketball’s men’s national team — a most challenging task that he’ll begin with the Americans just a few months away from resuming qualifying for the 2023 Basketball World Cup and with an eye already on the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Another opportunity to represent your country, to serve your country in this capacity, that was the reason for me,” Hill said. “I think also understanding how important, how significant the Olympic experience was for me back in 1996 and wanting to help recreate for young men who are coming through the NBA and want to be a part of this. It’s almost a calling in a lot of ways.”
His mission now: Take the torch from Colangelo and win more, many more. “Grant has been around us over the years and our training camps, because of relationships with myself, with of course Coach K, his coach in college,” Colangelo said. “He’s very aware. There’s been a lot of conversation. There’ll be plenty more conversation. And it’s not rocket science. It really isn’t. It’s all about relationships, and he’s very good at relationships so I feel very confident in passing this on to Grant Hill.”
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
Shams Charania: Sources: JaVale McGee has been selected to join the 12-man Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics.
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.
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"
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.”
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.
The Athletic: Precious Achiuwa denied KD's dunk attempt 👀 🎥 @NigeriaBasket pic.twitter.com/Dw7eheqo0L
Joe Vardon: And we have our first injury. Zach LaVine tripped near Mike Brown on the sideline and came up hobbling. Lower leg injury — he’s headed straight to the tunnel
Rob Schaefer: Looks like Zach LaVine turned his left ankle contesting a 3-pointer. Checked out of game and walked off to locker room under own power with slight hitch in step.
Joe Vardon: First two off the bench for Team USA: Draymond Green and Jerami Grant. Keep in mind that Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are not here
As the rumors swirl ahead of a possible Miami Heat offseason makeover, Tyler Herro is hoping to make a stand. As a stronger presence on the court. And as a strong advocate of coach Erik Spoelstra. Working under Spoelstra this week as a member of USA Basketball’s Select Team during pre-Olympic training in Las Vegas, the second-year guard said he views the experience as a bonding moment.
“I think it’s unique because I’m able to just continue to build a strong relationship with coach Spo,” Herro said. “I plan on playing with him for a while, and that’s my plan. I hope that happens. “So I continue to just build a strong relationship with him. I think this experience for both of us is big.”
Mike Finger: On first day with US Olympic team, Gregg Popovich is asked if he thinks some of his guys will be talking to each other about forming new super teams. “It’s none of my business,” he says.
Tim Reynolds: Pop says USA Basketball has brought in extra bodies - not just the select team - to supplement for the players who are missing from training camp. Olympians Khris Middleton, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday are not in Vegas for camp. (They couldn't get time off from work, apparently.)
Tom Orsborn: Rather than make Keldon Johnson available to media, #Spurs released a video of him answering questions posed by a staffer. Here's what he had to say about his approach to facing Team USA: "I'll go at them...It's basketball - I've got to go at them. That's just who I am."
Jerry COLANGELO ON KEVIN LOVE: “The best reason to say ‘why Kevin Love is an extra big’ was because of his international experience. Yes it’s true, he hasn’t played much of anything over these last couple years, but, the skills that he does bring to the table, the commitment that he’s made regarding physical conditioning, he’s a versatile guy up front who can rebound and hit shots. Who is to say how many minutes people are going to play? You’re not playing 12 players. And so it was a matter of filling out the roster with role players.”
Jerry Colangelo ON KEVIN DURANT: “This guy is a very, very special individual in my opinion. … He’s always had this great enthusiasm, for playing USA basketball, for playing the game of basketball. He’s been in my opinion a real warrior, I love the guy as a player, I love him as a person, and the fact he stepped up to commit himself as he did didn’t surprise me. I was very very pleased because he’s a very very important part of our potential success.”
Jerry Colangelo ON Damian LILLARD: “Damian came very close to being with us a few years ago and I think he was disappointed that it didn’t happen. There are always some disappointed people but he handled it gracefully, in a very professional way, and I was always hopeful that we would have an opportunity to re-engage, and of course, this is the time we are re-engaging. He’s another one that’s just had an incredible career. When I say he’s a big-time scorer, that’s an understatement. I would love to have him on our team at any time, and I am very very pleased that he will be a big part of our efforts.”
October 19, 2021 | 3:54 pm EDT Update
Ramona Shelburne: Silver says he doesn’t think this is a particularly new issue in the league. If anything there are “fewer” situations than earlier in his career, whether it be holdouts, not wanting to play for a team that drafts them, or requesting trades.
Tony East: Pacers officially list Malcolm Brogdon (shoulder) as probable for tomorrow’s opener in Charlotte. Jeremy Lamb (wrist) and Justin Holiday (ankle) are questionable. Kelan Martin (hamstring), Caris LeVert (back), and TJ Warren (foot) are out.
Kellan Olson: Monty Williams on if coaches are going back to suits: “I hope not. I hope we don’t. Holy smokes. We’ve had a few coaches that have voted for it and I’m just like, ‘What are you guys talking about?’ None of us can dress and your dry cleaning bill is like gone.”
NBA forward Patrick Patterson has partnered with producer Joel Reilly to launch Undisputed Pictures, a new production company with operations in both the U.S. and Canada, which will develop, finance and produce a slate of film, TV, media and entertainment projects, teaming up with Oscar nominated producer David Permut (Hacksaw Ridge, Face/Off) on its new feature, Dock.
The film will tell the story of Major League Baseball pitcher Dock Ellis, an outspoken player for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1970s, who led the team to a World Series championship in ’71. Ellis was a fierce advocate for Black players’ rights who famously claimed to have pitched a no-hitter while on LSD. Pic will examine issues of mental health and drug addiction, as it follows Dock’s journey to overcome his demons.
October 19, 2021 | 3:34 pm EDT Update
Sean Highkin: Damian Lillard on speculation picking up if the team starts slow: “I’ll answer that the same way I answered it on media day. I’m not leaving Portland. … It’s an easy thing and a popular thing to say but it’s not gonna happen.” pic.twitter.com/zJJbSVuX8j