NBA Rumor: Olympic Games

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Michael Grange: Some interesting names on and not on the 24-player list @CanBball has submitted to FIBA in advance of the Olympic qualifier. Among the NBA contingent expected to be there: Nickeil Walker-Alexander; RJ Barrett; Lu Dort, Cory Joseph; Trey Lyles; Mychal Mulder; Dwight Powell and Andrew Wiggins. Dillon Brooks and Oshae Brissett are on the list, but — as reported yesterday — are not playing at the OQT. Among the NBA crowd expected to be there but not on the list: Kelly Olynyk, Khem Birch and — as reported yesterday — Tristan Thompson. Olynyk and Birch are pending free agents. The rest are holdovers from the original list: Anthony Bennett; Andrew Nembhard; Melvin Ejim; Aaron Doornekamp; Kyle Alexander; Trae Bell-Haynes and Andrew Nicholson. Also one name neglected to mention, Isiaha Mike, a pro in Europe.

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Draymond Green and Damian Lillard to play for Team USA

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green are among the initial commitments to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, sources tell The Athletic. Lillard, who turns 31 on July 15, will be playing in his first Olympics after dropping out of consideration for the 2016 Rio Games, where the U.S. men’s team won its third consecutive gold medal. Green, 31, was a part of the 2016 team, which finished the tournament 8-0.

Nikola Mirotic to pass on Olympic Games?

Nikola Mirotic will not be part of the Spain roster for the Olympic Games, barring a last-minute change, according to AS. Mirotic, 30, prefers to focus on his family after a complicated year at a personal level rather than following up the demanding season at the club level with the bubble expected for the Tokyo Games, notes the report. Perhaps FC Barcelona teammate and Spain legend, Pau Gasol, can change his mind but it seems the decision has been made.

No vacation for now for Luka Doncic

Doncic said Monday he will travel to Slovenia soon to prepare for the upcoming qualifying tournament. The 22-year-old Doncic will be at least one of at least five Mavericks players who will be back on the court within weeks, aiming to lead their home countries to an Olympic berth in Tokyo this summer. “This is my main goal — qualifying Slovenia for the Olympics,” Doncic said. “I’m going to be heading back to Slovenia and starting practicing, so no vacation.”

On Monday, Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Green stated that he intends to play for Australia in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics set to begin on July 23 in Japan. He was among the 24 players listed as finalists to play with the Australian men’s basketball team. The roster, which also features the likes of Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, will be pared down to 12 players prior to the start of the Olympics. Green, who was born in Sydney, would be representing Australia for the first time in the Olympics if chosen. “I think my intentions will be to play for Australia,” Green said. “It has always been a dream of mine and also just from a developmental standpoint. Just being able to get games and feel more comfortable on the court, and be around guys like Ben, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills — guys like that who help me out and grow as a player. I’m really looking forward to it and the offseason in general.”

Nemanja Bjelica to play with Serbia

The availability of the NBA stars to their respective national teams has always been rather questionable and that is especially the case when the team goes deep into the playoffs or the player doesn’t have his contract status taken care of. Nemanja Bjelica will be in a peculiar situation this summer as his obligations towards the Miami Heat ended after the team got swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. According to Mozzart Sport, however, the Serbian star will travel to Belgrade soon and will without a doubt make himself available to coach Igor Kokoskov for the summer and the Olympic qualifiers.

Team USA men's squad fails to qualify for Olympics in 3x3 basketball

Team USA was upset Sunday by the Netherlands in the 3×3 basketball Olympic qualifying tournament in Graz, Austria, failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The 21-16 defeat in the quarterfinals eliminated the Americans from getting one of the three bids available for the Olympics. It was a surprise defeat for Team USA, which won the last 3×3 World Cup in 2019 and is the No. 2-ranked team in the world behind Serbia. The Americans went 3-1 in pool play to enter the medal round as a top seed.

The Tokyo Games will mark the first time 3×3 basketball will be staged at an Olympics, and the field is tight, with just eight countries winning berths. Team USA failed to earn an automatic berth in 2019 despite its World Cup victory because 3×3 Olympic spots are determined differently than in the 5×5 competition, where the World Cup champs gain automatic entry. FIBA, the international governing body of the sport, is saving one spot in Tokyo for countries that didn’t have a 5×5 team qualify for the 2012 or 2016 Olympics as it tries to grow the game in countries that previously haven’t exceled. But it made qualifying even tougher for Team USA. Joey King, who played at Minnesota, led Team USA Sunday with eight points in the loss (in 3×3, baskets are worth 1 point and shots behind the line are worth 2). King averaged a team-best 7.8 points per game.

Marc Stein: Today @CanBball announced its 21-man roster for 12 spots on the Nick Nurse-coached squad aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins is in, but injury has ruled out two of Canada’s best: Denver’s Jamal Murray and OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: pic.twitter.com/WUawCvYKLr

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander passes on playing with Canada

Brandon Rahbar: SGA announces he won’t be able to play with the Canadian national team this summer, which he was looking forward to. This should put an end to anyone accusing OKC of faking Shai’s injury for tanking purposes. Canada is still the odds on favorite to win the gold because Lu Dort. pic.twitter.com/gjOd8cOdC4

“I’ll cut to the chase because people are asking me, ‘A lot of teams are out (of the playoffs) – are you going to get early commitments from certain people?’ ” Colangelo told USA TODAY. “That’s not the way we’re going to deal with this. We have interest in all of them. There’s a lot of variables, and so we’re going to do inventory after the first round. There’ll be a number of players who we have interest in that conceivably are available after the first round. There’s no rush because we have the flexibility.”

This is Colangelo’s final Olympics. He will turn over the job to Grant Hill following Tokyo. “Grant Hill and I had a conversation a year ago,” Colangelo said. “I’ve known Grant pretty well for a long time. He expressed interest. He wanted me to know what his thinking was. I said, ‘Grant, I couldn’t think of anyone better to succeed me. You check all the boxes.’ I believe that. He’s a world-class guy. He’s bright. He knows the game. He’s well-connected. He’s well-respected. Enough said. He was the guy.”

Ricky Rubio not 100 percent sure about Olympics

It has been so draining that Rubio said he is still not sure if he will play for the Spanish national team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. That team means everything to Rubio and it could be his last chance to win a gold medal. But this has been such a grind that it’s still up in the air. “I’m burned out. Probably it’s a yes, but I owe my family time. I owe myself and my brain to really reset,” he said. “It’s not going to be a normal Olympics. I’m tired of getting tested every day. We haven’t had a day off with the family for six months. A little thing like putting that thing in your nose, it reminds you every day what’s going on in the world, that it’s not normal.”

Steph Curry didn’t rule it out by any means, but the Warriors star remains unsure about whether he will be competing for Team USA in the postponed 2020 Olympics, set to begin later this summer. “Obviously everything was geared towards extending this season as far as possible, and honestly, I know there’s a lot of conversation and chatter about logistics and the set up and all that type of stuff, I don’t know what that looks like from Team USA, so trying to gather as much information as possible and make the right decision for me at the end of the day,” Curry told reporters after Friday’s 117-112 season-ending loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

American officials are counting on anyone in the Finals being out for the Olympics, and players on the two teams that lose in conference finals would be pushing it. On top of all that, Olympic organizers in Japan are proceeding as though the COVID-19 vaccine does not exist. There is going to be frequent testing and restrictions on where athletes can go and what they can do when they aren’t playing. And they certainly cannot bring their families to the Games.

“That’s not our call, the Japanese government won’t allow it,” said Jim Tooley, chief executive officer for USA Basketball. “So will we do some sort of hybrid program in Vegas (during training camp) for family members.” If you’re sitting there thinking, “well, yes, but the other countries with NBA players on their rosters are in the same boat,” that’s true, except the Americans already had trouble recruiting stars to play for them in the last world tournament — the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Lithuania national team head coach Darius Maskoliunas announced the preliminary list of 15 players for the training camp ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament to be held in Kaunas between June 22 and July 4. Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis headline the list. The Memphis Grizzlies led by Valanciunas will begin the 2021 NBA Playoffs best-of-seven series versus the Utah Jazz on Sunday, while the Indiana Pacers and Sabonis failed to make it through the play-in tournament.

Myles Turner: 'One of my goals is to play this summer on Team USA'

While there is no timeline on Turner’s return, it would be a stunner if we saw him again on the floor in the 2021 postseason—the Pacers have slogged their way into the NBA’s play-in tournament, losing their last two games and falling to No. 10 in the East. Turner still has hope he could return and play for Team USA in this summer’s Olympics, though, if they finally take place. “My foot is progressing and my rehab is going good,” Turner said. “Ideally, I want to be back with my team to finish the season and make a playoff push. But I am working on getting fully recovered because it’s one of my goals to play this summer on Team USA. I trust the doctors and training staff to help me get back out there at 100%.”

Pierce said the U.S. is trying to simultaneously be pre-emptive and proactive when it comes to figuring out how this summer might work in terms of personnel. ”We haven’t talked about style of play and things like that,” Pierce said. ”I think there’s a lot of other factors that are really important right now leading into that.” The U.S. men will open the Olympics against France – the team that beat them in the World Cup quarterfinals and ended their medal hopes in that event – on July 25. The U.S. men will also face Iran on July 28 and a still-to-be-determined team on July 31.

Spanish national team head coach Sergio Scariolo said that Pau Gasol will need to spend a certain amount of period playing competitive basketball to be fully ready to participate in the 2021 Olympic Games. “Obviously, being in Tokyo involves playing a few months of competition in a team,” Scariolo said in an interview with AS after the completion of the 2022 EuroBasket Qualifiers. Spain closed the February window with two wins vs. Poland and Israel to finish the stage with a qualifying record 4-2 in Group A.

Team USA has asked to allow roster changes even during the Olympics as players may fly over late and join teams, Colangelo said. He is waiting to hear back from the governing bodies on the matter. “These are not normal times. Rosters by a certain date doesn’t make any sense,” Colangelo said. “What we’re seeking is flexibility to substitute players very late and to get the best players on the court. It doesn’t just apply to us but for all the countries.” On Wednesday, the IOC released its first set of Games parameters, which said athletes were not required to be vaccinated or to quarantine on arrival but that they would have to undergo testing before embarking and upon arrival in Japan.

Most of the top American talent has signaled interest in playing at the Olympics, and also, players such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of Boston (who were on the 2019 team) are now among the best in the NBA. Colangelo said Team USA is continuing to hear of interest from the best the U.S. has to offer, with no whispers of anyone backing out, in part because it’s too early — who knows which teams are going to make deep playoff runs? The Americans are targeting a training camp starting about July 4 in Las Vegas.

The Spanish and Argentinians, who battled in the World Cup finals in Beijing, are both in group C. Fourth-place Australia is in group B. “The three Olympic preliminary groups appear well balanced, and there are a good number of teams who have legitimate shots at the gold medal in Tokyo, ” Popovich said in a news release. “It was a fair draw,” Colangelo said. “The bottom line — you’ve got to win your games. I said it then and I’ll say it now: Had we been healthy (in China), we would’ve won the whole thing. We owe the world after that one.”

What’s kind of the latest that you’re hearing from different athletes around the NBA who who are whoever USA Basketball pedigree who’ve been with you in the past? Jerry Colangelo: Chris, I would say with rare exception, everyone has indicated they would participate. Now, what does that really mean? I mean, it’s easy to say, yes, count me in at this particular point in time. But until we get much closer to, you know, the summer months, we’re not going to know officially, but I will tell you one way we’ve protected ourselves: You know, I think we had like 42 on our national team roster, to give ourselves good coverage, we’re actually increasing that number to close to 60. And it’s just to be sure that everyone is following protocol, as far as the mandate from the Olympic group that they have to be in the drug program. They have to be they have to pass certain standards. And so we have a large pool to select from.

Jerry Colangelo on Olympics Games: “We are diligently working on trying to get as much flexibility as we possibly can not just for us. That’s true for every country who’s involved. You know, what rules existed in the past existed in the past, the unusual times call for unusual changes. And all we’re asking for is flexibility, the ability to submit a final roster at the very last minute, and number two to be able to replace people because of COVID. So I’m hopeful all I could say is it’s in the works. All the governing bodies are clued in, and let’s see if they make the right decision.”

Patrick Mills to play in upcoming Olympic Games

Interviewed by ESPN, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills has confirmed he will participate in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, with a clear goal in his mind. “Oh, it’s crystal clear, mate. No hesitation at all. I think everyone is well aware of that, throughout the program, the team, obviously Goorjan, players as well… there’s no doubt about it. Not a single ounce of blood in my body says otherwise. I’m fully committed, and it obviously comes from a very genuine place and the goal that we have as a team… and we are very determined to accomplish it. We have an absolute chance to achieve that in Tokyo. Everyone who’s a part of that program right now, from the head coach all the way to the equipment manager, everyone’s gotta be locked in and feel the exact same way as we feel: determined, fire burning inside, desire to do everything we possibly can to win this gold medal”, Mills said.

“As a coach, I don’t really like the fact that there are a couple of players like Marc and Serge who can reach the Finals because that would obviously complicate their selection for the Olympics,” Scariolo said to Radio Marca. “But I’m happy that each of them has a team and a role within their team that is promising to be interesting. Having them all joining teams very quickly is a reason for calm for all.” According to the 2020-21 NBA calendar, the playoffs begin on May 6 and will be finished on July 22. If the Lakers or the Clippers reach the Finals then Gasol and Ibaka won’t be able to make it to Tokyo.

This would mean a return close to the NBA’s normal schedule, significant financial ramifications to start early, a potential finish before the 2021 Summer Olympics, and allow a window for stars to play in the Olympics, sources said. The NBA wants to continue to incorporate the play-in tournament that was utilized in the Orlando restart to determine the eighth seed in the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs, according to sources. ESPN first reported that a Christmas start and playing fewer than 82 games would be discussed on Friday’s call.
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