2020 Olympics

LeBron Won’t Play In 2019 World Cup, Open To 2020 Olympics

LeBron James hasn’t represented Team USA in international play since the 2012 Olympics, and that won’t change this fall. With USA Basketball looking to bring home gold at the 2019 World Cup in China, James confirms to Joe Vardon of The Athletic that he won’t be participating in that event.

“I love everything about Pop (Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich), obviously, but this is not a good summer for me,” James said.

As Vardon notes, despite the fact that James’ summer will be longer than expected now that the Lakers have failed to qualify for the postseason, that won’t change the four-time MVP’s plans. The production schedule of Space Jam 2 is one key factor that will prevent LeBron from being available for this year’s World Cup, which takes place at the start of September.

Still, James hasn’t ruled out the possibility of rejoining Team USA for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Having previously won a pair of gold medals for USA Basketball in Beijing (2008) and London (2012), LeBron is leaving the door open for one more Olympic run.

“Yeah, that’s a possibility,” LeBron told Vardon. “It depends on how I feel. I love the Olympics.”

Here’s more from James, via Vardon:

  • After appearing in eight straight NBA Finals and then missing the postseason this year, James isn’t pretending this summer will just be business as usual. He tells Vardon that he likes the fact that he’s feeling “uncomfortable” heading into this offseason: “I like being counted out. It motivates me.”
  • Having been shut down for the remainder of the season, LeBron tells Vardon that he’d like to still be playing, but he’s willing to defer to the Lakers’ decision-makers and the people around him. “I’ve always listened to the ones I trust, no matter if I always agreed with them or not,” James said. “They’re looking out for my best interest, and that’s the way it is.”
  • While LeBron will be busy with Space Jam 2 and other projects this summer, he’s also considering how a two-month head start to the offseason will impact his workout plans as he looks to stay in shape for 2019/20. “I’ve had basically the same offseason training regimen the last eight years,” he said. “I knew how long I wanted to rest for the season on a short timeline. I’m figuring out now how to get as much as I can out of two months of extra time for training. It requires a totally different strategy. We’re looking at it in an entirely new way.”

Southwest Rumors: Gasol, Nowitzki, Lauvergne, Finney-Smith

Spurs center Pau Gasol hopes to play for Spain in the FIBA World Cup next summer, according to a Sportando report. Gasol told the Spanish website El Dia he’ll wait until after the NBA season to make a final decision whether he’ll play for his home country as it attempts to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. “I am about to turn 39,” Gasol said. “I love playing with the national team and I would like to continue, and qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and help the team with my presence, if I am physically well my belief and my wish is to be in the World Cup.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Dirk Nowitzki scrimmaged with his Mavericks teammates for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in April, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. Coach Rick Carlisle said Nowitzki should be available for training camp, which opens September 21, Sefko continues. Lottery pick Luka Doncic and J.J. Barea were among the other players in the scrimmage, Sefko adds.
  • Former Spurs big man Joffrey Lauvergne said he would have stayed in San Antonio if he didn’t get an offer to play with Turkey’s Fenerbahce, he told Fenerbahce TV in an interview relayed by Sportando. Lauvergne declined a $1.656MM player option to sign a two-year deal overseas with the anticipation of getting more playing time. “I wanted to come back to Europe and the team that I wanted to play is Fenerbahçe,” he said. “I accepted the offer without thinking but if Fenerbahçe didn’t offer me i would probably stay in Spurs for one more season.”
  • Mavericks swingman Dorian Finney-Smith should find more playing time in the frontcourt rather than the crowded backcourt, Sefko writes in a separate story. The club hopes he can develop into a 3-and-D player and he’ll earn more minutes if his outside shot improves, Sefko continues. It’s a pivotal year for Finney-Smith, who will become a restricted free agent after the season if he receives a qualifying offer or unrestricted if the club declines to do so, Sefko adds.

USA Basketball Announces National Team Pool For 2018-20

In multiple recent qualifying tournaments for the 2019 World Cup, USA Basketball has been represented by a collection of NBA G League players led by head coach Jeff Van Gundy. However, for the basketball’s biggest international events, including that ’19 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, Team USA will once again be represented by some of the NBA’s biggest stars.

Today, USA Basketball announced the 35-man player pool that it will draw from when it puts together its National Team rosters for the major international events between 2018 and 2020. Led by head coach Gregg Popovich, the following players – listed alphabetically – are part of Team USA’s player pool for the next three years:

  1. Harrison Barnes, F (Mavericks)
  2. Bradley Beal, G (Wizards)
  3. Devin Booker, G (Suns)
  4. Jimmy Butler, F (Timberwolves)
  5. Mike Conley, G (Grizzlies)
  6. DeMarcus Cousins, C (Pelicans)
  7. Stephen Curry, G (Warriors)
  8. Anthony Davis, F/C (Pelicans)
  9. DeMar DeRozan, G (Raptors)
  10. Andre Drummond, C (Pistons)
  11. Kevin Durant, F (Warriors)
  12. Paul George, F (Thunder)
  13. Eric Gordon, G (Rockets)
  14. Draymond Green, F/C (Warriors)
  15. Blake Griffin, F (Pistons)
  16. James Harden, G (Rockets)
  17. Tobias Harris, F (Clippers)
  18. Gordon Hayward, F (Celtics)
  19. Kyrie Irving, G (Celtics)
  20. LeBron James, F (Cavaliers)
  21. DeAndre Jordan, C (Clippers)
  22. Kawhi Leonard, F (Spurs)
  23. Damian Lillard, G (Trail Blazers)
  24. Kevin Love, F (Cavaliers)
  25. Kyle Lowry, G (Raptors)
  26. C.J. McCollum, G (Trail Blazers)
  27. Khris Middleton, G (Bucks)
  28. Victor Oladipo, G (Pacers)
  29. Chris Paul, G (Rockets)
  30. Isaiah Thomas, G (Lakers)
  31. Klay Thompson, G (Warriors)
  32. Myles Turner, C (Pacers)
  33. Kemba Walker, G (Hornets)
  34. John Wall, G (Wizards)
  35. Russell Westbrook, G (Thunder)

17 Players Vying For Spots On USA’s AmeriCup Roster

USA Basketball has begun the process of selecting its roster for the AmeriCup 2017, the first of a series of qualifying tournaments under FIBA’s new format. As Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press details, Team USA doesn’t need to win the AmeriCup to qualify for the next World Cup and Olympics, but it’s a tournament the U.S. must participate in to eventually play in more crucial events.

Because upcoming qualifiers will take place during the NBA season, Team USA is putting together a roster primarily made up of G League players and veterans who have been playing overseas, as we previously learned. With training camp set to begin on Thursday, 17 hopefuls are suiting up for Team USA, with the program poised to eventually pare that group down to a 12-man roster.

Here are Team USA’s training camp participants, via USA Basketball:

Although there are no high-profile names in this group, several players have some NBA experience. Hilliard is currently a free agent, but appeared in 77 games over the last two seasons for the Pistons. Drew, Munford, and Plumlee have all played in at least a dozen NBA games.

Marshall, Morris, and Reggie Williams are perhaps the most notable names on the list, having played regular rotation roles for various NBA teams in recent years. Marshall was a lottery pick in the 2012 draft, while Williams has appeared in more than 200 NBA games since 2010.

None of the players on Team USA’s training camp roster are currently under contract with an NBA club, but Willis – the only player of the group who has yet to play professional ball – has reportedly agreed to a training camp deal with the Pistons.

The club will be coached by Jeff Van Gundy, an international rookie himself, and will eventually participate in preliminary round games in Uruguay later this month. If Team USA wins its group – which also includes Panama, the Dominican Republic, and host Uruguay – it would advance to the semifinals in Argentina in early September.

As Mahoney outlines in his report, Team USA won’t face real pressure to win until November, when the club need a top-three finish in a pool that includes Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba in order to start advancing to later qualifiers. For more in-depth details on how those qualifiers work, be sure to check out FIBA’s breakdowns for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

IOC Adds 3-On-3 Basketball For 2020 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that three-on-three basketball will be added to the Olympic program for the 2020 games in Tokyo, according to Graham Dunbar of The Associated Press. The change is one of many being made for the 2020 Olympics in an attempt to give the event a more “youthful and urban appeal.”

According to Dunbar, the new three-on-three basketball competition will feature 64 players in total, with eight teams apiece for men and women — that works out to four players per squad. Assuming the Olympic event adopts the rules established by FIBA for three-on-three play, it will be a half-court game with one- and two-point shots, as well as a 12-second shot clock. The game ends after a 10-minute period, or when one team reaches 21 points.

While the event sounds intriguing, there are a number of questions that still require answers. The format and location of the competition aren’t yet known, and it’s not clear how countries will qualify for one of the eight Olympic spots.

It will also be interesting to see what sort of players participate in the three-on-three competition. The United States, along with a handful of other countries, could put together any number of tantalizing four-player teams for the competition, but it remains to be seen if any NBA players will participate in the event (or be permitted to) — particularly since many of the top players will be taking part in traditional five-on-five Olympic basketball.