2020 Olympics

Olympic Notes: Beal, Booker, Brissett, Doncic

Team USA’s backcourt has been fortified by two All-Stars who pledged on Friday to play in the Tokyo Olympics.

Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal, the league’s second-leading scorer this season, has made a commitment, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Suns shooting guard Devin Booker, who finished 14th in scoring and will be playing in the upcoming Western Conference Finals, has also decided to participate, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Warriors big man Draymond Green are among the other prominent players who have already chosen to play for Team USA.

We have more news regarding the Olympics:

  • Oshae Brissett will not play for Team Canada at the Olympics, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. The 22-year-old Brissett averaged 10.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG for the Pacers this season.
  • Luka Doncic had 10 points and 17 assists for Slovenia in a friendly game against Croatia on Friday, according to SportandoMario Hezonja scored 37 points for Croatia. The game was a tuneup for the FIBA Qualifying Tournament later this month.
  • In case you missed it, Jimmy Butler will not play for Team USA. Get the details here.

Olympic Notes: Butler, Olynyk, Birch, Bjorkgren, Jokic, Australia

Jimmy Butler will not play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. Butler had an invite but he battled through a variety of ailments this season and had a short turnaround between seasons after Miami surprisingly reached the NBA Finals last summer.

We have more info on this year’s Olympics:

  • The Rockets’ Kelly Olynyk and Raptors’ Khem Birch are among the prominent players not listed among the 24 players Team Canada submitted to FIBA in advance of its Olympic qualifier, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet tweets. They’re both unrestricted free agents. The Grizzlies’ Brandon Clarke is also not on the preliminary list, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. The 24-man roster can be found here.
  • Nate Bjorkgren, who was let go by the Pacers after one season as head coach, will join Nick Nurse’s Team Canada staff, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Bjorkgren was one of Nurse’s top assistants before his stint with Indiana.
  • MVP Nikola Jokic won’t play for the Serbian team at the Olympic qualifier due to an exhausting NBA campaign, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Jokic told Serbian news agency Tanjug, “Simply, the condition of my body requires a longer absence from the court for recovery.” The Denver Post story asserts Jokic won’t play in the Olympics even if his national team qualifies, while an ESPN story says it’s unclear if Jokic would participate in Tokyo.
  • The Australian national team will play exhibitions against Team USA, Nigeria and Argentina in Las Vegas before departing for Tokyo, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. The 19-man preliminary roster, which will be trimmed to 12, is expected to be loaded with NBA players, including Ben Simmons and Joe Ingles.

And-Ones: Rule Changes, Tatum, Goodwin, Cavanaugh, Options

The NBA’s competition committee met on Monday to discuss rule changes that would address how fouls are called, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The proposed rule changes would focus primarily on limiting players’ ability to draw fouls by leaning to the side or backwards on shot fakes, a direct response to some of the more unnatural foul-baiting that has become common in recent years, especially with players such as Trae Young, James Harden and Luka Doncic.

The competition committee assembled a collection of clips of the shooting motions deemed to be “unnatural,” according to Wojnarowski. The committee, the NBA, and the league’s GMs will discuss specific recommendations next week as they look to address the growing perception that the rules are slanting too much towards giving advantage to the offensive players, especially superstars. The committee hopes these rule changes can be instituted as early as during this year’s Summer League.

We have more odds and ends from around the NBA.

  • Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum has committed to playing for Team USA in Tokyo, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Tatum joins Damian Lillard and Draymond Green as the first group of players to commit to USA Basketball’s Olympic squad.
  • Former Suns guard Archie Goodwin has signed with Eberlein Drive of The Basketball Tournament, tweets JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors. Goodwin played four seasons in the NBA, most recently in the 2016/17 season for the Pelicans and Nets. He joins former Jazz forward and NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Jeremy Evans on the Drive.
  • Former Jazz forward Tyler Cavanaugh has signed with BC Zalgiris, a Lithuanian-based team that is one of the oldest in the EuroLeague. Cavanaugh previously played for Iberostar Tenerife, a Spanish club that made it to the semifinals of the ACB last year before losing to powerhouse Barcelona.
  • The Athletic’s John Hollinger goes through every possible team and player option decision heading into the offseason with predictions as to whether those options will be exercised or declined. Some predictions of note: Hollinger thinks that Suns guard Chris Paul will opt in and sign an extension. He also predicts Kawhi Leonard will opt out, and notes that if Leonard chooses to sign a one-plus-one contract with the Clippers (a two-year deal with a player option in the second year), he would be eligible for a five-year deal worth a projected $246MM in 2022 due to the Clippers having his full Bird rights, as opposed to the four-year, $175MM deal he could sign this summer.

Olympic Notes: Lillard, Green, Canada, Serbia, Italy

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Warriors forward/center Draymond Green are among the first players to commit to Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, sources tell Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Team USA figures to bring more than a dozen players to its initial camp this summer before paring down the roster to 12 for Tokyo, so Lillard’s and Green’s commitments don’t guarantee that they’ll be part of the final Olympic roster. However, it seems safe to assume that spots on the 12-man squad will be reserved for the two stars as long as they remain healthy and committed.

Green won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, while Lillard has yet to play for Team USA in a major international tournament. Green and Lillard are two of the 57 names listed as part of USA Basketball’s initial player pool in March, though as we noted last week, many of the players on that list seem unlikely to participate for a variety of reasons, including injuries.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • Team Canada’s preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month included 14 current NBA players. However, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic and Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links), at least three of those NBA players – Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks, and Celtics center Tristan Thompson – now aren’t expected to participate.
  • The Serbian national team is preparing for the possibility of being without several key players for this month’s qualifying tournament, according to a MozzartSport report (hat tip to Sportando). Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets are among the players considered unlikely to be available for the OQT in Belgrade.
  • Longtime NBA shooting guard Marco Belinelli announced that he won’t be part of the Italian team attempting to earn an Olympic berth at this month’s qualifying tournament in Belgrade, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Belinelli, who is now playing for Virtus Bologna, wants to rest to make sure he’s 100% healthy for next season.

And-Ones: Nets Security, Zipser, Mannion, Mozgov, TBT

A Nets security official who made contact with Bucks forward P.J. Tucker during a Game 3 skirmish has been barred by the NBA from working any more games in Milwaukee for the rest of the series, according to Joe Vardon, Eric Nehm and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. The official, Antjuan Lambert, also won’t be allowed at courtside during the games in Brooklyn.

Lambert is employed by the team, but he has also been working for Kevin Durant since the star forward signed with Brooklyn in 2019. When Durant had an altercation with Tucker in the third quarter of Game 3, Lambert intervened and bumped into Tucker.

“In the heat of the moment you know people are coming to de-escalate things and try to get things under control and not bump and escalate and have things become a problem than what we’re trying to address or de-escalate,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. “And, in the 24-48 hours since, if it’s a Nets security guy and he’s bumping our player and things like that, that doesn’t seem like that’s the protocol and what we’d expect from any type of security.”

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

  • Former Bulls forward Paul Zipser had to undergo emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage this week, writes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Zipser is now playing for FC Bayern in Germany.
  • Warriors guard Nico Mannion will be part of the Italian team for the upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgrade, notes Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Duke prospect Paolo Banchero, who received an Italian passport several months ago, hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’ll join Mannion.
  • Former NBA center Timofey Mozgov is expected to represent Russia in its upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament, Borghesan adds in a separate piece. Injuries limited Mozgov to six games this season for his Khimki team, but he recently returned to action.
  • Veteran NBA big man Amir Johnson will participate in The Basketball Tournament this summer, tweets J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors. Also playing will be Bruno Caboclo, who appeared in six games for the Rockets this season (Twitter link).

International Notes: Satoransky, Olympics, Shayok, Landale

Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky is the only current NBA player on the Czech Republic’s preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month (link via FIBA). Former NBA lottery pick Jan Vesely is among the other notable names on the roster.

Satoransky, Vesely, and the Czechs will be looking to earn a berth in the Tokyo Olympics by winning a six-team tournament that also features Canada, Greece, Turkey, China, and Uruguay. It won’t be an easy path, as only one of the six teams will advance to Tokyo. Canada’s roster features many NBA players, while Greece could have Giannis Antetokounmpo available if the Bucks don’t advance past Brooklyn in round two of the NBA playoffs.

Here are a few more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • Former NBA second-rounder Marial Shayok is joining Turkish club Fenerbahce, according to a report from Ismail Senol of beIN Sports (Twitter link; hat tip to Sportando). After being selected 54th overall in 2019, Shayok spent his rookie season with the 76ers, but was waived last November. The 25-year-old forward played for Frutti Extra Bursaspor in Turkey for most of 2021.
  • Former Saint Mary’s big man Jock Landale, who is currently playing for Melbourne United in Australia’s National Basketball League, is hoping to use the NBL playoffs as a springboard to a potential NBA contract, telling Matt Logue of News.com.au that he has received “a lot” of NBA interest this season. Landale also sought a move to the NBA last summer, but could have more luck this time around following a big year for Melbourne.
  • Nick Lagios, who will be the general manager of the NBA G League’s new franchise based in Mexico City, told Achilleas Mavrodontis of Eurohoops.net that he likes the idea of someday overseeing a European team’s basketball operations department. “Many people call me crazy because my dream job is to work as a GM or president in the EuroLeague,” Lagios said. “I think it would be a great experience working (for) a European team or a top-notch Greek team and I would love that in the future.”

Jazz Notes: Conley, Bogdanovic, Ingles, Clippers

Jazz guard Mike Conley is listed as questionable to play in Game 2 of the team’s second-round series against the Clippers on Thursday night, per the NBA’s official injury report. Conley, who suffered a mild right hamstring strain in Game 5 of the first round against Memphis, was also listed as questionable leading up to Game 1 vs. the Clippers on Tuesday before being ruled out.

The Jazz have a reputation for being careful with injuries. The team held Donovan Mitchell out of the first game of the postseason last month, much to Mitchell’s dismay. So while it seems like Conley is getting closer to returning to action, we shouldn’t expect to see him on the court until the club is confident he’s 100% or close to it.

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • The contributions of Bojan Bogdanovic are crucial to Utah’s title hopes, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Bogdanovic’s decision to sign a four-year contract with the Jazz as a free agent in 2019 represented a big win for the franchise both from a basketball perspective and a symbolic one, as Jones details. “We were glad that he chose us because he had options,” Jazz executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey told Jones. “Him choosing us was a sign that we could be a destination market, and it’s just been an excellent marriage. He’s met our level defensively. He’s such a versatile scorer and he’s a huge weapon for us because of how many ways he can score and shoot the ball.”
  • Even if the Jazz advance to the NBA Finals and don’t finish their season until July 22, don’t expect Joe Ingles to skip the Olympics this summer, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. I’ll get on a plane the next day and I’ll make my way over to Japan,” said Ingles, who will represent Australia at the Tokyo games.
  • The Jazz haven’t forgotten the way the Clippers seemingly tanked at the end of the regular season to get into the No. 4 seed, avoiding a possible matchup with the Lakers in the Western Semifinals and lining one a series with Utah instead. Entering the second round, it sounded like Utah was using that as motivation, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes. “Obviously, we’re a matchup that the Clippers felt like was an advantageous matchup for them,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder told reporters on Tuesday.

Community Shootaround: Team USA’s Olympic Roster

Long delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are now just a month-and-a-half away. The games are scheduled to begin on July 23 and will run through August 8.

With the Olympics around the corner, USA Basketball will soon have to determine which players will make its preliminary roster, then will have to pare that group down to 12 players for Tokyo.

Team USA announced an initial pool of 57 players in March, so there are seemingly plenty of options to represent the country at next month’s Olympics. However, many of the names on that list may be off limits.

As Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes, Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are expected to skip this year’s Olympics in favor of letting their late-season injuries recover. Other players on that list of 57 names, such as Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker, Pacers center Myles Turner, Heat guard Victor Oladipo, Spurs guard Derrick White, and Knicks center Mitchell Robinson were also dealing with injuries when the season ended and probably won’t be prepared to suit up this summer. LaMarcus Aldridge has retired.

Meanwhile, players who could be poised for deep playoff runs, such as Nets stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, also may be off the table for Team USA, since the NBA Finals could run as late as July 22. Olympic training camps will begin well before then.

Jazz guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, Sixers forward Tobias Harris, Hawks guard Trae Young, Suns guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, and Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are among the other players who may not be inclined to participate if they’re in the playoffs until July, or even late June.

Still, there are several intriguing names potentially available for Gregg Popovich‘s squad. Vardon hears that Warriors guard Stephen Curry is “50-50” on participating, while Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is thought to have strong interest in playing. Vardon also suggests that Celtics forward Jayson Tatum could be a headliner for Team USA.

Among players whose NBA seasons are over, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Knicks big man Julius Randle, Wizards guards Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, and Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are among the most intriguing names. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, Warriors big man Draymond Green, and Kings forward Harrison Barnes were members of the 2016 Team USA squad that won Olympic gold and could be considered again.

If Team USA’s top choices opt not to participate, there are plenty of other intriguing names on the list of 57 candidates, including up-and-comers like Jarrett Allen, Jerami Grant, Christian Wood, Duncan Robinson, and Fred VanVleet.

We want to know what you think. Taking into account the players who are unlikely to participate for health reasons or due to deep postseason runs, what would your ideal 12-man USA Basketball roster look like?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your picks!

Doncic On Signing Supermax Extension: “I Think You Know The Answer”

Making his first comments since Sunday’s Game 7 loss to the Clippers, Mavericks star Luka Doncic discussed some of the pressing questions facing himself and the organization this summer.

The 22-year-old guard, who averaged 35 PPG, 10.3 APG and 7.9 RPG in his first round matchup with Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, offered a strong, if playfully coy, hint about whether or not he plans on signing a supermax extension this summer. “I think you know the answer,” he said with a large smile, as tweeted by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

As relayed by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Doncic is set to become the first rookie in league history to sign a rookie max extension worth over $200MM. The deal, should he sign it, would begin in 2022/23 and would be worth approximately $201.5MM over five years, based on current cap projections. Marc Stein of The New York Times confirms (via Twitter) that the Mavs plan to put that offer on the table once free agency begins in August.

Doncic will officially qualify for the supermax (30% of the cap instead of 25%) once he’s formally named to this year’s All-NBA team, since he made last year’s All-NBA squad as well. Players need to make the All-NBA team in the season before the extension takes effect or in two of the previous three seasons in order to be supermax-eligible.

Doncic also reaffirmed his commitment to his partnership with Kristaps Porzingis, despite whispers that the two aren’t exactly the closest of friends. “He’s a great player. I think we’ve got to use him more, and that’s it,” Doncic said of Porzingis (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News).

The Latvian big man was brought in via trade in 2019 and subsequently signed to a max contract, but the last two seasons have been riddled with injuries and up-and-down play. He averaged 20 points and nearly nine rebounds per game, but his once-vaunted defense seemed to slip, resulting in a career-low blocks per game. In the playoffs this year, he averaged just 13 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 33 minutes a night.

Finally, Doncic confirmed that he will be joining the Slovenian national team soon to help lead them through the Olympic qualifying rounds. Though the team has never qualified for the Olympics before, Doncic was part of the group, along with Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic and former NBA forward Anthony Randolph, that won the 2017 EuroBasket championship. Doncic is hoping to carry that success to this year’s qualifiers, and to lead his team to the Tokyo Olympics.

No vacation,” he said, as tweeted by Stein.

Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Schröder, Free Agents

Although Lakers big man Anthony Davis was cleared to return for Game 6 vs. Phoenix, he clearly wasn’t himself on Thursday night, leaving the game for good midway through the first quarter due to his strained groin. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Davis’ injury didn’t get any worse on Thursday, but his pain intensified whenever his mobility was tested.

It never really felt good, but the competitive nature in me wanted to go out there and help the team as best as I could,” Davis said following the loss that ended the Lakers’ season (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today). “My body didn’t agree.”

The Lakers’ loss on Thursday ended a season of “what ifs” for the franchise, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic. After flying out of the gates to a 21-6 start, the team dealt with lengthy injury absences to its two stars (Davis and LeBron James), while other key players were affected by COVID-19 (Marc Gasol and Dennis Schröder). Los Angeles never regained its early-season momentum. After winning 21 of its first 27 games, the club won just 21 of its next 45 to finish the regular season, then was eliminated in short order in the playoffs.

It was the first time in LeBron’s 18-year career that he has been knocked out in the first round of the postseason, and while the four-time MVP was disappointed with the loss, he’s looking forward to taking full advantage of a longer offseason. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), James suggested after Thursday’s game that he won’t participate in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Dennis Schröder reportedly turned down a four-year extension worth over $80MM earlier this year, but he said on Thursday that his desire to remain with the Lakers remains strong and is “not even a question,” as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times details. “It wasn’t about money, because everybody who knows me, it’s not about money either,” he said. “Of course, you want to be fair. But at the end of the day, not everything is about money — for me and my family. At the end of the day, if everything is good, we gonna come back and win a championship next year.”
  • Sources tell Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that some people in the organization were frustrated by Schröder’s play on the court this season, prompting the team to include him in trade talks for Kyle Lowry at March’s deadline.
  • The Lakers will have to determine which players are their top priorities in free agency, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), who notes that Schröder is just one of several rotation players up for a new contract. Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Andre Drummond, and Markieff Morris are among those headed for unrestricted free agency, and Montrezl Harrell could join them by declining his $9.7MM player option.
  • The Lakers need to upgrade their supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis this offseason, but don’t have a ton of tools at their disposal to do so, says John Hollinger of The Athletic. The club projects to be over the cap and has already traded multiple future first-round picks.
  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his history of injuries, Davis replied, “I don’t need to prove anything to anyone that’s outside this Lakers organization,” per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. However, Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times argues that Davis’ health and James’ age are growing concerns for the franchise.