Kobe Bryant would be thrilled to play for USA Basketball in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, he told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. Bryant, who won gold medals the past two Olympics, could end his competitive basketball career in the Olympics if he chooses to retire after this NBA season, Reynolds adds. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” the veteran Lakers’ swingman said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.” The 12-player roster is expected to be revealed in June.
In other news around the league:
- Dragan Bender, a 7’0” forward who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv, heads the list of Top 10 NBA prospects compiled by Kevin O’Connor of DraftExpress.com and Celticsblog.com. The 17-year-old could be a draft-and-stash option for the Celtics, who own the struggling Nets’ 2016 first-rounder. The next three players on his list are also 6’10” or taller — LSU point forward Ben Simmons, Kentucky center Skal Labissiere and Duke forward Brandon Ingram.
- Matt Barnes is still furious that Knicks coach Derek Fisher went to the authorities after their October altercation at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times tweets. “We’re two grown men who should have handled two grown men’s business, but he wanted to run and tell the cops and the NBA,” the Grizzlies’ small forward said. The NBA is still investigating the matter, according to Ryan Lazo of the New York Post.
- Indiana’s Capital Improvement Board unanimously approved a contract Monday to allow the Pacers to build a $50MM practice facility, Mark Alesia of the Indianapolis Star reports. The five-story, 130,000-square-foot facility will be located across from Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is scheduled to open in 2017.