NBA Rumor: Olympics

223 rumors in this storyline

Nigeria releases Olympic roster list with 12 current NBA players

More Rumors in this Storyline

Thankfully for Australia, the boy from Mareeba in Far North Queensland, is primed to use his pain from a poor NBA season as motivation to help the Boomers win a maiden Olympic medal in Tokyo. “The good thing is I’ve been able to shift my focus to the Olympics and getting my body right physically and focusing on what I need to get right to play with my second family out there representing Australia,” he said. “There is no better thing for us when it comes to playing basketball. So, as tough as the season had its ups and downs, the Olympics is something that I’ve been looking forward to.”

Baynes is currently spending time in Brisbane with family and training in preparation for the Boomers’ pre-Olympic training camp in Los Angeles from June 24 and next month’s warm-up games in Las Vegas. He has become well accustomed to training hard after spending two weeks in hotel quarantine prior to arriving home in Queensland. “I had the skipping rope and body weight exercises in quarantine, and I’ve continued that every morning as well as training at the gym,” he said. “I got out of quarantine just over a week ago, so I’m enjoying being back on Australian soil, all be it is going to be a short trip.”

“There are more players of Nigerian descent in the NBA than probably any other country besides the U.S.,” said Mike Brown, who became Nigeria’s coach in February 2020. “And so the talent is there. It’s just about getting everybody organized and on the same page and getting everybody excited about playing and wanting to be a part. And so there are right around 10 or so guys in the NBA that are going to come and try out for the team. So looking forward to mixing some of that NBA talent with some very talented individuals that are playing professionally in Europe and abroad.”

There was a small hurdle that officials from the Nigerian basketball federation had to clear before they could even talk to Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown about becoming their men’s national coach. They needed his phone number. Nobody involved with the federation had it, so they started calling around and eventually word got to Brown they were seeking him out. Brown originally thought he had no interest, then — once they got the number — wound up taking the call and listening to their vision. “A chance to coach in the Olympics,” Brown said, “made me think about it.”

Brown — who sought the opinions of Golden State coach Steve Kerr, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and others from USA Basketball when he was deciding how to proceed with the Nigerian offer — officially got hired about four months after the World Cup, and he’s spent enormous amounts of time immersing himself in the role since. “I’ve become passionate about the potential and the people,” Brown said. “I want these guys to have an experience. Now we might never be USA basketball, but I want these guys to have an experience where they can be proud of representing their country in these international games because they’re just good dudes.”

As many as three Heat players — Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala — are serious candidates to play for Nigeria in these Olympics, and it’s possible that most if not the entire Nigerian roster for Tokyo has NBA experience. “I’m just looking forward to having the next opportunity to hopefully go represent the country and represent the nation moving forward in the Olympics,” Vincent said. “Mike Brown has definitely been in contact. He’s been great reaching out to guys, communicating well and we’re all looking forward to it and excited.”

Before next season comes, Green will be representing Australia at the Olympics in Tokyo starting on July 23. That’ll give him a chance to work alongside NBA players such as Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills. “Everything is kind of just getting thrown at me now, but my intentions will be to play for Australia,” Green said. “It’s always been a dream of mine as a kid. And also just as far from a development standpoint, just being able to get in games and just feel more comfortable on the court and be around guys like Ben, Joe Ingles Patty Mills and guys like that who have really helped me out and to just grow as a player. I’m really looking forward to it and just looking forward to the offseason in general.”

Damian Lillard on committing to Team USA: Gregg Popovich being the coach played a big role

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.”

“There is no chance that I’m missing the Olympics,” Ingles told Shane Heal’s Basketball Show, with the full interview to be released this Tuesday via dailytelegraph.com.au. “I’d have a few beers on the plane heading over there (to Tokyo), and then obviously I’d get right into Boomers mode. It is what it is. When you get into that lockeroom and you see your Boomers jersey hanging up, there is no better feeling. So, I could go off no sleep and seven games in a row and I’d find the energy to throw it on and play.”

With the revised NBA schedule, the final qualifying tournament for Canada will be June 29 to July 4 in Victoria, B.C. If all goes well, a spot in the Tokyo Olympics July 23 to Aug. 8 will come before free agency. Players often choose to be cautious about any chance to sustain an injury when they are not under contract, but Olynyk said Wednesday he still hopes to compete. “That’s obviously my goal,” Olynyk said. “Obviously, I played for Canada for more years than I played in the NBA. It’s always been a goal of mine to play in the Olympics and represent Canada on the highest stage. Hopefully, we can this summer. Hopefully, I get that opportunity.”

At the time, the NBA was on its normal schedule, allowing players to complete their free agency decisions before the usual Olympics schedule. The revised schedule, however, would give him something to consider, if not necessarily enough to change his plans. “It definitely does change that,” Olynyk said. “Usually, your free agency is done July 1 and the Olympics are the beginning of August and you’re good to go. Now, the Olympics are the end of July and free agency is the beginning of August, so it’s kind of flip-flopped. Obviously, that plays a role and you have to think about it, whether it’s insurance or what the best route to go is. We’ll cross those bridges when they come but my goal is to go out there and play and represent my country.”

In a next-level spinoff this summer, when the Canadian men’s national basketball team tries to qualify for its first Olympics since the Sydney Games in 2000, it will play on the court upon which the Toronto Raptors in 2019 became the first team based outside the United States to win an N.B.A. championship. “We want the entire court to be the lucky loonie,” said Scott Lake, a board member of Canada Basketball who was instrumental in the federation’s bid to obtain that court and host a six-team Olympic men’s qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia, from June 29 to July 4.

It took 11 months, and nearly $270,000 from Lake, a co-founder of the Canadian e-commerce company Shopify, to get all of the court’s puzzle pieces, but Canada Basketball conquered the logistical half of its quest. It plans to soon unveil the reassembled floor from Game 6 of the 2019 N.B.A. finals as a tribute to the Raptors’ title team, then refinish the court with FIBA logos and international basketball markings before installing it at the 7,400-seat Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

Is this project, though, bigger than basketball in Africa and Nigeria? Obviously, you want to advance the basketball programme, but knowing you, I think there’s a little bit more to it than just that… Mike Brown: For me, being African American, there’s no better connection for me than a country in Africa and especially Nigeria. There’s a quote from Nelson Mandela: “The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.” That’s our rallying cry. That’s our slogan. Obviously, we all know who Nelson Mandela is. We all know what he meant, not just to South Africa, but to the world, and in particular, all of Africa.

Has Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry ever talked to you about the Olympics? Do you guys talk Olympics at all? Mike Brown: There’s a little banter going around about the Olympics because we have a few guys within our building [who talk about the Olympics]. You have Steve Kerr, who’s on the USA Basketball coaching staff, you have Steph [Curry], who obviously has a really good chance to play for Team USA. You have Klay [Thompson] and Draymond [Green]. Klay would be playing if he wasn’t hurt. Draymond played before. Chris DeMarco is the head coach of the Bahaman national team. And then I have a couple of guys on my on the Warriors staff that are going to be a part of the Team Nigeria.

The Rockford native told reporters on Thursday he’s honored to receive consideration. He’s been used to being overlooked much of his basketball career. “It’s a big honor. It’s a lot of respect to be thought about for that pool of players to represent your country. It’s going to take some time to wrap my mind around that one. I’ve never been a part of that type of environment growing up. I didn’t do much of the AAU, you know, top 100, those type of things where it’s the same guys that you see all the time and they end up being a lottery pick.”

“The program is only as strong as its players will take it,” Mills says, before repeating himself. “I don’t say that necessarily as a good thing. We definitely have got some work to do in this area, I believe, but for now it’s full focus on Tokyo, and a gold medal would do wonders for our program, as at least a starting point. There’s a prestigious feeling within our program that needs to be a joint effort between the playing group and Basketball Australia to make sure when — we’ve lost ‘Bogues’ [Andrew Bogut], obviously — I step away, when Joe Ingles steps away, ‘Delly’ [Matthew Dellavedova], [Aron] Baynes — that that program is still elite, if not even more levels up, as it should be.”

Tatum said the NBA is working closely with the International Olympic Committee and FIBA, the sport’s global governing body, to ensure there is “the best possible schedule for everybody involved.” And it’s possible that the finalizing of Olympic rosters could be pushed back to allow NBA players the maximum amount of time before making decisions on whether to play or not. “It’s my expectation that our federation, FIBA, together with the IOC, will also work with us on potential accommodations, even in terms of when rosters would otherwise need to be submitted, recognizing that they’re going to need to be more flexible and work with us this season given how much uncertainty there is around the virus,” Silver said earlier this week.
More HoopsHype Rumors
June 23, 2021 | 9:04 am EDT Update

Nate McMillan has reservations about coaching Hawks next season?

While McMillan is the team’s “interim’’ head coach, sources made it abundantly clear Hawks management would love to remove the interim title. However, sources also said the 56-year-old McMillan has some reservations whether he wants to be the permanent head coach and may prefer some other role in the organization. Money won’t factor into McMillan’s decision as he is financially set, sources said.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 7 more rumors
The 24-year-old is just fearless, and it’s that kind of bravado that has everything to do with the Suns taking these two games without Chris Paul while he continues to go through COVID protocol. Beverley bothered him defensively, but Booker never backed down. I asked him afterward if their back-and-forth was good, old-fashioned playoff basketball, or if perhaps Beverley and the Clippers were going too far with the physicality. “That’s for you guys to decide,” he said. “They’re an aggressive team. That’s how they guard. All those guys, they’re athletic. Watching the previous series against Dallas and Utah, (they’re) switching everything and trying to turn teams over. But we’re figuring it out and we try to stay aggressive, stay with what we do and whether it’s basketball plays or not, we’ve got to move on to the next one.”
“CP has taken Cam Payne under his wing,” he said. “When you see Cam Payne coming into practice with Chris Paul, you’re wondering, you know — Chris Paul is usually the one here early and you see Cam Payne right behind him and you tend to ask questions, them two been together watching film, lifting weights together stuff like that. You could tell that Cam really took a different approach to a whole other level and he did it right in front of our eyes. Like I said, he was bound to have one of these games and he’s a guy who keeps it consistent. He plays hard both ends of the ball, and I just love his passion.”
“We want everybody to cherish this moment because we are built for this,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s why we are here. No matter the pressure, no matter what’s going on, we are built for this. We believe in who we are. No matter what happens, win or lose, we’ll stay together and we’re just going to go out there and compete.” Antetokounmpo delivered for the Bucks in the series finale against the Nets with 40 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. For the series, he averaged 28.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
Against Brooklyn, Antetokounmpo averaged 40.1 minutes per game, the most he has averaged in any series and by far the most he has averaged since Budenholzer became coach in 2018. Antetokounmpo played 50 of 53 minutes in Game 7. “I’ve prepared my body all year for moments like that, being able to play 40 minutes, 42, 45, 48, whatever it may be, 53,” he said. “(Budenholzer) knows the way I am. If I get tired I’m going to let him know. If I get tired and I need a 30-second break or a minute-break, usually we have a great way to communicate about that – that he can pull me out and put me right back.”
Two people who have played important roles behind the scenes for the Hawks are Larry Riley and Mike McNeive. Riley, once an assistant coach and scout for the Bucks, is a senior advisor to Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk. Before joining the Hawks, Riley played a major role in the enormous success of the Golden State Warriors as be drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while being the team’s general manager. McNeive, who worked as an advance scout and assistant coach for the Bucks during the George Karl regime, is the Hawks director of basketball operations.
June 23, 2021 | 5:32 am EDT Update

Nets upset with Kyrie Irving?

Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 351 more rumors