2019 World Cup

Kyle Lowry Undergoes Procedure On Injured Thumb

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has undergone a procedure to repair a tendon injury in his left thumb, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the recovery process isn’t expected to be particularly lengthy — Lowry is hoping to be ready to participate in Team USA’s training camp next month and the 2019 FIBA World Cup in September.

[RELATED: Team USA Announces 20-Man Camp Roster For World Cup]

As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca notes (via Twitter), Lowry dealt with the thumb issue for most of the postseason and had a hard time gripping the ball with his left hand. The 33-year-old was always expected to address the injury – which was reported during the NBA Finals as a ligament tear – during the offseason.

Despite battling the thumb injury, Lowry helped lead the Raptors to their first-ever championship, averaging 15.0 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.9 RPG with a .439/.359/.802 shooting line in 24 playoff contests. He’ll enter a contract year in 2019/20 before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Howard, Handy, Horton-Tucker

When Team USA named its 20-man training camp roster for the 2019 World Cup last month, Anthony Davis‘ name was on that list. However, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the new Lakers star will remove his name from consideration for USA Basketball’s World Cup roster.

As Haynes explains, Davis won’t participate in training camp with Team USA because he wants to spend the bulk of his offseason preparing to attempt a championship run with his new team. The former Pelicans big man remains committed to playing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, sources tell Haynes.

Davis, a gold medalist in 2012 (Olympics) and 2014 (World Cup), will still attend Team USA’s training camp next month to support his teammates, per Haynes. It’s not clear if USA Basketball has a 20th man lined up to replace AD — the club will eventually pare that group down to 12 players for the World Cup itself.

Here’s more on the Lakers and Davis:

  • In a conversation with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Davis said that Lakers GM Rob Pelinka was calling him every “30 to 45 minutes” during free agency. “Rob would call me: ‘AD, what you think about him?’ ‘All right, cool,'” Davis said. “Right back, ‘AD, you know, this is what is going on with him.’ ‘All right, cool. All right.’ Sometimes I had to tell him, like, ‘Rob, I’m in the movies.’ He’d be, like, ‘All right, well, call me as soon as you get out.’ But we’re trying to put the best team around us, and I think he did a great job of doing it.”
  • Speaking to Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times, veteran center Dwight Howard – who technically remains under contract with the Grizzlies for now – said he wouldn’t mind playing in Los Angeles again, either for the Lakers or Clippers. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do love L.A.,” Howard said. “Staples Center is going to be rocking this season.”
  • The Lakers are hiring veteran assistant coach Phil Handy to join Frank Vogel‘s staff, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Handy has appeared in five consecutive NBA Finals, having coached in Cleveland before joining Toronto for the 2018/19 season.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker‘s new two-year, minimum-salary deal with the Lakers is fully guaranteed, a source tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link).

And-Ones: Howard, Summer League, Spain, BIG3

Having been sent from Washington to Memphis in a trade for C.J. Miles, veteran center Dwight Howard is a member of the Grizzlies for now. However, the club is expected to waive or trade him at some point. After he was limited to just nine games in 2018/19 for health reasons, it’s not clear what the next step will be for Howard, but the eight-time All-Star tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that he has adjusted his mindset and is prepared to do whatever it takes to help his next team win.

“I don’t have an ego — it’s dead,” Howard said. “It had to die for me to be who I am. Sometimes when you want to become who you want to be, you have to die within yourself. Once you learn that you have to give up yourself for the team, that’s when things flourish.”

According to Charania, several NBA teams have said that they’re intrigued by Howard, who says he has been fully cleared after last year’s injury issues. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year claims he has lost 25 pounds since the end of the season, and one executive who saw him recently said he appears to be in his best shape in years, per Charania.

It remains to be seen whether Howard will get an opportunity to choose his next team on the free agent market, but if he does, he has one clear priority, he tells Charania: “Winning. Winning. Winning. I want to win. Nothing else. Just win.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), there has been talk in Las Vegas about the possibility of moving back the start of Summer League in future years. Postponing the start date until after the end of the July moratorium would help address the problem of having traded 2019 draftees tied up in deals that can’t be made official until after Summer League is underway.
  • Spain announced its preliminary roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup this week, as Sportando relays, and the group includes a number of familiar names. The 16-man list, which will be cut down to 12 for the competition, features Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez, Juan Hernangomez, and former NBA players like Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver.
  • The BIG3 announced on Wednesday that Baron Davis, Bonzi Wells, Lamar Odom, and Jermaine O’Neal are being “deactivated” for the 2019 season. The league cited the need to “maximize competition, protect the health of players, and to raise the level of the professionalism of the BIG3.”

Nick Nurse Officially Named Team Canada’s Head Coach

Fresh off an NBA championship in his first season with the Raptors, Nick Nurse has lined up another head coaching gig. According to a press release, Nurse has officially been named the head coach of Team Canada ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

While Nurse’s appointment as the coach of the Canadian men’s basketball program wasn’t officially finalized until today, a report back in May indicated that he would be the choice. His commitment will run through the 2020 Olympics, Team Canada announced today (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

“Nick fits our Gold Medal Profile as he is a proven leader with extensive experience coaching FIBA, NBA and other professional leagues around the world,” Team Canada GM Rowan Barrett said in a statement. “His coaching pedigree shows his ability to win at some of the highest levels and he has a tremendous understanding of the FIBA game and our Canadian NBA players. We strongly believe that this unique combination gives our players the best opportunity for success at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

It remains to be seen which players will be representing Canada at the 2019 World Cup — or at the 2020 Olympics, should the team qualify. With Nurse leading the way, perhaps a few more NBA players will be interested in participating.

Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Dillon Brooks, Dwight Powell, and Khem Birch are among the NBA veterans who are Canadian.

A handful of incoming rookies could also receive consideration for the World Cup roster, as R.J. Barrett, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Brandon Clarke were among the six Canadians drafted last Thursday.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

And-Ones: Draft/FA, Martin, Barnes, Lithuania

Per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics front office, long a staunch supporter of flipping the order of the NBA draft and free agency, once again spoke about the idea of having free agency occur before the draft after a pre-draft workout earlier this week.

“I have been a big proponent of switching the draft and free agency,” said director of player personnel Austin Ainge. “I think that most teams build from veteran players first… you more likely are fitting in draft picks in and around a veteran core group. So I think the calendar should follow our decision-making tree. So I think it should be switched.”

The NBA has been open-minded to changes, having recently modified the beginning of free agency to 6pm on June 30 as opposed to midnight on July 1. It remains to be seen whether the league will be as open to changing the order of the draft and free agency.

There are more odds and ends to report from around the basketball world this evening:

  • Kenyon Martin Jr., the son of former NBA player Kenyon Martin, is bypassing college basketball at Vanderbilt to pursue a professional career, reports Evan Daniels of 247Sports. He joins RJ Hampton as the second high-profile high school prospect to turn down a college career, although Hampton was a much more ballyhooed recruit than Martin.
  • According to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPNKings forward Harrison Barnes will participate in USA Basketball’s August training camp ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China this fall.
  • Spurs big man Donatas Motiejunas was not named to Lithuania’s preliminary roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Carchia passes along the full squad, which features Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, MPJ, Exum, Wolves

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who earned All-NBA First Team honors this season, expects to play for Serbia this summer in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and is confident the club can win a medal, as he tells Serbian outlet Tanjug (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Jokic wasn’t on Serbia’s roster for the 2014 World Cup, but he did join the squad for the 2016 Olympics. In both instances, Serbia lost the championship game to Team USA and took home silver medals.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets are attempting to balance optimism and caution when it comes to 2018 first-rounder Michael Porter Jr., who is expected to make his professional debut in Summer League play this July, writes Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com.
  • Injured Jazz point guard Dante Exum is trying to focus on the positives as he goes through another rehab process, per Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com. “It’s frustrating to go into an offseason injured,” said Exum, who underwent knee surgery in March. “But I’ve thrown a lot of my energy and time into planning what my offseason will look like so I can be the best player I can be coming out of it.”
  • After participating in Houston’s free agent minicamp this week, veteran guard Xavier Munford will attend a similar camp hosted by the Timberwolves during the first week of June, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Munford last played in the NBA in 2017/18, when he appeared in six games for Milwaukee.
  • Sid Hartman of Star Tribune examines the Timberwolves‘ decision to retain head coach Ryan Saunders, including how big a factor Glen Taylor‘s support of Saunders was.

And-Ones: Combine, Coach Challenges, World Cup

Eleven prospects who participated in this week’s G League Elite Camp in Chicago have been invited to stick around to attend the actual draft combine, which will begin today and run through this Sunday.

According to a tweet from the NBA G League, those 11 players are as follows: Oshae Brissett (Syracuse), Tyler Cook (Iowa), Terence Davis (Ole Miss), Tacko Fall (UCF), Jared Harper (Auburn), Dewan Hernandez (Miami), DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa), Terance Mann (Florida State), Cody Martin (Nevada), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State), and Marial Shayok (Iowa State).

A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects who weren’t initially invited to the draft combine worked out in front of NBA teams at the G League Elite Camp. Teams were then polled on which prospects they’d most like to get a longer look at for this week’s combine. The group of 11 prospects who were chosen will join the 65 players who were initially announced as combine participants last week.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the “liveliest” topic of discussion at Tuesday’s GM meetings involved the possibility of instituting a system for coaches’ replay challenges, which exist in many other major sports. According to Lowe, not everyone agreed on what should be reviewable, with some GMs arguing that coaches should be able to challenge foul calls, while others disagreed. There was also discussion about whether a challenge should cost a team a timeout, regardless of whether a call is reversed or upheld.
  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons announced this week that he intends to play for Australia in the 2019 FIBA World Cup (link via ESPN.com). He’ll be joined on the Australian squad by Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. However, Roy Ward of The Age Sport (Twitter link) hears that Ingles’ teammate Dante Exum is unlikely to participate in the event due to his knee injury.
  • The NBA and the National Basketball Coaches Association are creating a program intended to better identify and illuminate potential coaches among groups that are underrepresented, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We are not talking about a quota system,” Mavericks coach and NBCA president Rick Carlisle told ESPN. “Rival leagues have proven that mandates and demands for diverse hiring practices do not work. Our goal is an absolute equal opportunity for all our members to develop their skills on a level playing field.”

And-Ones: Early Entrants, Ball, Pierce, Diaw

After releasing a 233-player list of early entrants for the 2019 NBA draft on Tuesday, the league followed up today by adding a few more names to that list. According to an announcement from the league, “timely letters” were received from three more prospects who declared for the draft. Those players are as follows:

Leading up to the early entry deadline, there were reports that Cham, Lamb, and Sneed all intended to enter the draft, so it was a little surprising not to see them on the NBA’s official list this week. They’re on there now though, and the additions of those three names mean that this year’s early entrant total is up to 236 players, matching a record set in 2018.

As we noted on Tuesday, there were still several players who reportedly intended to declare for the draft as early entrants and aren’t on the NBA’s list, so they either had second thoughts or missed the deadline. The next deadline will arrive on May 29, when NCAA prospects will have to either withdraw from this year’s draft pool or officially forfeit their remaining college eligibility.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Alan Foster, a former associate of Lonzo Ball and the Ball family, is under FBI investigation, according to a report from Tania Ganguli and Richard Winton of The Los Angeles Times. The Bureau is looking into whether Foster defrauded the Ball family out of millions of dollars, according to Ganguli and Winton, who say the investigation has been going on for more than two months. Foster was already facing a lawsuit accusing him of embezzling over $2MM from Big Baller Brand for his personal use.
  • Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce has taken the place of Pacers head coach Nate McMillan as an assistant on Team USA’s coaching staff for 2019/20, according to a press release. McMillan withdrew due to scheduling conflicts, opening the door for Pierce to claim a spot on Gregg Popovich’s staff for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.
  • Longtime NBA forward Boris Diaw is reportedly poised to take over as the president of French team Levallois Metropolitans. The news was reported by Le Parisien, and relayed by Sportando and Eurohoops. Assuming it becomes official, Diaw will become the second notable NBA player to assume the role of team president for a French club, joining former teammate Tony Parker, who runs ASVEL Villeurbanne.