2023 World Cup

And-Ones: Franchise Valuations, World Cup, NBL, BAL

The Warriors have an estimated worth of $7.56 billion, according to the sports business website Sportico, which put out its annual NBA franchise valuations this week. Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico, who formerly published the franchise valuations for Forbes, has the Warriors well ahead of the Knicks ($6.58 billion), Lakers ($6.44 billion), Bulls ($4.09 billion), and Celtics ($3.92 billion) on the site’s full list.

Those valuations for the Warriors, Knicks, and Lakers are all noticeably higher than the figures Forbes put out in October, while the numbers for the Bulls and Celtics fall slightly below Forbes’ estimates.

Sportico is a little more bullish on the value of NBA franchises on the whole, with an estimated average valuation of $3 billion per team. Forbes’ report had the estimated average worth of an NBA franchise at $2.86 billion.

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

  • Assuming Team USA qualifies for the 2023 World Cup, which is all but assured, the U.S. club will play all its games in Manila, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The World Cup will be played in Japan and Indonesia in addition to the Philippines, but each host nation got to pick one team it wanted to have for its group stage games. The Philippines, which will also host the final phase of the tournament, chose Team USA. Japan picked Slovenia (led by Luka Doncic), while Indonesia selected Canada.
  • Larry Kestelman, the owner of Australia’s National Basketball League, has interest in bringing an NBL team to the Las Vegas Summer League and says the NBA is open to the idea, according to Matt Logue and Michael Randall of the Herald Sun (subscription required). “We used to take teams to China, like an NBL All-Star-type set up,” Kestelman said. “We’ve discussed this with the NBA before and they were open to it, so we will continue those discussions.” The NBA has had some of its teams play exhibition games against NBL squads during the preseason in recent years.
  • The NBA announced on Wednesday that the third season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) will tip off on March 11, 2023. As was the case in 2022, 12 top teams from 12 African countries will qualify to be part of the BAL season. Those teams will play a total of 38 games in Dakar, Senegal; Cairo, Egypt; and Kigali, Rwanda.

And-Ones: Team Canada, USA Basketball, Blockbuster Trades, Weber

The Canadian national team has clinched a spot in next summer’s FIBA World Cup, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Team Canada improved to 9-0 in qualifying rounds with a victory over Venezuela this week, taking a big step toward qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Even with a victory over Colombia on Monday, USA Basketball cannot yet clinch a spot in the World Cup, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. At least five, and possibly six, of the seven World Cup spots for teams from the Americas region will be decided during February’s qualifying games, Reynolds adds. Team USA lost to Brazil 94-79 in a qualifying game on Friday, which prevented it from clinching a World Cup berth, according to an AP report. The U.S. does, however, still lead Group F with a 7-2 record, and will face Uruguay and Brazil in February.
  • Generally, blockbuster trades involving star players haven’t worked out for both parties, according to Louis Zatzman of FiveThirtyEight. Selling teams often haven’t improved beyond where they were with that star talent, while acquiring teams haven’t always found greater postseason success after bringing in that big-time player.
  • Former NBA player Briante Weber has been cut by the Israeli team Bnei Hertzliya, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Weber appeared in a total of 45 NBA games for a handful of teams, most recently during the 2017/18 season. He’s also played in Canada, Europe and Puerto Rico.

Team USA Rumors: Young, Beal, Allen, Embiid

Under former USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo, continuity was a top priority for the men’s national team. Colangelo required players to make two-year commitments to the program, maintained a pool of about 40 Team USA players, and conducted training camps in summers when there was no major international competition.

However, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic details, new managing director Grant Hill has decided to take a different approach, having concluded – along with new Team USA head coach Steve Kerr – that it’s not realistic to expect NBA superstars to commit back-to-back summers to the national program.

The plan for Team USA is to spend the next several months, into the spring, building the team that will represent the country at the World Cup in the Philippines next fall. USA Basketball will then repeat that process the following year in preparation for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Vardon writes.

While it remains to be seen which players will ultimately suit up for Team USA at those two events, Vardon’s article includes some additional info on potential candidates. Here are some highlights:

  • Hawks star Trae Young has long wanted to play for Team USA at a World Cup or Olympics, but hasn’t gotten the chance to do so yet. He’s optimistic he’ll get that chance now that Hill – a minority owner of the Hawks – is so involved in the process. “It’s exciting, knowing someone who has more of a say,” Young told Vardon.
  • Wizards star Bradley Beal missed the last World Cup due to the birth of his son and also had to sit out of the Olympics after contracting COVID-19, but he’s interested in playing for the team going forward. “I definitely see myself playing for USA,” Beal told Vardon. “That’s always been a goal of mine, obviously to play in the Olympics, but there’s a step to get there (the World Cup). So if it’s available to me, for sure.”
  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen is receiving “heavy consideration” from Team USA officials, according to Vardon. Allen would be interested if he’s invited to take part, telling Vardon he would “take a lot of pride in representing us on a stage in front of the world.”
  • Confirming a previous report from Marc Stein, Vardon says Team USA is very interested in Joel Embiid, a native of Cameroon who has French and U.S. citizenship. USA Basketball hasn’t begun a formal recruitment of Embiid, but doesn’t want to see him join a French frontcourt that already features Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama.
  • Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Zach LaVine are among the players who won gold with Team USA in Tokyo and would be welcomed back if they want to play in the 2023 World Cup, says Vardon.

International Notes: Brown, Basketball Without Borders, World Cup

Former NBA wing Anthony Brown has agreed to terms on a deal with Russian club Unics Kazan, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. A former EuroLeague club, Unics Kazan now competes in the VTB United League.

After being selected with the No. 34 pick by the Lakers in 2015 out of Stanford, Brown bounced the NBA and G League for several seasons. He suited up for the Lakers and their NBAGL affiliate, at the time called the Los Angeles D-Fenders (now the South Bay Lakers), the Magic and their affiliate team the Erie BayHawks/Lakeland Magic, the Timberwolves and their NBAGL club the Iowa Wolves, and the Pelicans. In 41 total NBA games, the 29-year-old has averaged 3.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG across 18.6 MPG.

Brown first headed overseas in 2018, and has since suited up for teams in Serbia, France, Spain, Turkey and Israel. While playing for Maccabi Rishon LeZion in Israel Super League competition last season, the 6’7″ swingman posted averages of 16.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG and 1.0 SPG, with a shooting line of .465/.396/.821.

Here are more international basketball odds and ends:

  • Several NBA players and coaches will head overseas to take part in a Basketball Without Borders camp set for Cairo, Egypt, per a league press release. The event will run from this Sunday, August 28, through next Wednesday, August 31. Sixty-four of the best boys and girls hailing from 26 African nations, aged 18 and under, will travel to the camp. Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, Magic center Mohamed Bamba, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Grant Williams, and retired Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo will be among the camp’s coaches, with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, Pelicans head coach Willie Green, Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, Bucks associate head coach Charles Lee, and Hornets athletic trainer Quinton Sawyer also participating. The camp’s roster of directors will be pretty star-studded as well, led by Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Cavaliers GM Mike Gansey, and Clippers scout Lance Blanks.
  • With almost exactly one year to go before the 2023 FIBA World Cup tips off, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press checks in on USA Basketball as the organization ramps up its preparation for the event. The first games in next year’s competition are scheduled to be played on August 25, 2023. Fielding a lineup that features G League and international-caliber American players, Team USA currently has a 6-1 record in the World Cup qualifiers. Next year, Steve Kerr will coach Team USA, featuring a likely-star studded roster. This year, that task falls to former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen. “We’re learning a lot because the NBA game has changed over the last seven or eight years, too,” Sean Ford, the U.S. men’s national team director, said. “There’s much more shotmaking. It’s just unbelievable, incredible the amount of 3-point shots that are taken, the freedom of movement, the flow of the game. But the international game has stayed the physical way.” 
  • Former Thunder swingman Terrance Ferguson has made the jump to overseas play, signing on with Polish team GTK Gliwice. Get full details here.

Team USA Sets Roster For August World Cup Qualifiers

Team USA will play a pair of qualifying games for the 2023 World Cup this month, squaring off against Uruguay on August 25 in Las Vegas and then facing Colombia on August 29 in Barranquilla, Colombia.

USA Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 12-man roster for those qualifying games. The following players will be representing the U.S. on a club led by head coach Jim Boylen:

McClung is the only member of the 12-man group who is currently under contract with an NBA team, having signed a training camp contract with the Warriors last month. However, everyone on the roster except for Ellison has appeared in at least one NBA regular season game.

Galloway and Jenkins are the most experienced NBA veterans on the roster. Galloway has 452 regular season games for seven teams under his belt, while Jenkins has made 171 appearances for five clubs.

Team USA has a 5-1 record through the first three qualifying windows, putting the squad in a tie for first place with Brazil atop Group F. After this month’s games, the remaining two qualifying windows are scheduled for November and February — teams will end up playing a total of 12 qualifying contests apiece.

The 2023 World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10 next year. Assuming its team qualifies – which looks like a pretty safe bet – USA Basketball is expected to send a roster of more accomplished NBA veterans to the event.

And-Ones: Mirotic, In-Season Tourney, Transition Take Fouls

Nikola Mirotic finished only fourth in Spanish League MVP voting this season, but he has been named the Most Valuable Player for the EuroLeague, per an official release.

The former NBA forward had a terrific year for FC Barcelona, averaging 16.6 PPG and 5.1 RPG with a shooting line of .566/.455/.875 in just 24.2 MPG (36 games) in EuroLeague play. Mirotic ranked second in the league in points per game, behind only Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic, and was among the league leaders in total three-pointers made.

Mirotic, who appeared in 319 NBA games from 2014-19, has been back in Europe for the last three seasons after making the surprising decision to turn down lucrative NBA offers at age 28. His Barcelona squad is set to face Real Madrid at the EuroLeague Final Four on Thursday.

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

  • The NBA continues to discuss a possible in-season tournament and could implement it as soon as the 2023/24 season, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The league has been encouraged by the success of the play-in tournament and is ramping up its planning on a mid-season tourney, Charania adds.
  • According to Charania (Twitter links), the NBA is strongly considering tweaking the rules on take fouls in transition by awarding the offensive team a free throw and the ball. The proposal, which will be voted on in July at the Board of Governors meeting, had “widespread support” at this week’s GM meeting, per Charania.
  • During an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio, commissioner Adam Silver floated the idea of requiring a minimum number of games played for end-of-season award eligibility, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. There’s no indication the NBA is seriously considering implementing such a rule, but the fact that Silver even mentioned it is interesting.
  • FIBA continues not to allow the national teams from Russia and Belarus to participate in international competitions, announcing in a press release that the countries have been withdrawn from a series of upcoming events, including the 2023 World Cup qualifiers. FIBA first banned the two countries from international play on March 1 following their invasion of Ukraine, and shows no signs of reversing the decision.

Joe Johnson, Langston Galloway Among Team USA Players For World Cup Qualifiers

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for the next two qualifying games for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The team, coached by Jim Boylen, will be made up of G League players and current free agents. Here’s the roster:

With the exception of Ryan, all of the players on Team USA have some NBA experience, though some are certainly more accomplished than others. Johnson has earned seven All-Star berths and has appeared in 1,277 career regular season games. Bell, Black, and Galloway have also each played in more than 160 career regular season contests.

The 2023 World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia next August and September. Teams play 12 qualifying games before then — those contests take place across six windows, with World Cup hopefuls playing twice during each window.

Team USA went 1-1 in its first two qualifying games in November, defeating Cuba but losing to Mexico. Boylen coached that team and Bowen played for it, but the other 11 roster spots have since been turned over, with Isaiah Thomas among the players who aren’t back this time around. The new-look squad will face Puerto Rico on February 24 and Mexico again on February 27.

After this month’s games, the remaining four qualifying windows are scheduled for June, August, November, and next February. While the next two windows fall outside of the NBA season, the expectation is that USA Basketball will continue using G-Leaguers for the qualifiers before recruiting NBA stars for the event itself next summer.

As our JD Shaw reports (via Twitter), forward DaQuan Jeffries had been expected to be part of Team USA’s roster for this month’s qualifiers, but had to de-commit due to an injury.

Team USA Names Steve Kerr Head Coach

DECEMBER 20: USA Basketball has made it official, announcing that Kerr has taken over as the head coach of the men’s national team, with Williams, Spoelstra, and Few joining him as assistants.

DECEMBER 10: Steve Kerr will be the next head coach for USA basketball, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. A deal is currently being finalized, and a formal announcement is expected soon.

Kerr, who served as an assistant to Gregg Popovich on this year’s gold-medal winning team in Tokyo, will take over for the FIBA World Cup in 2023 and the Paris Olympics in 2024 (Twitter link). His staff will include Suns head coach Monty Williams, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and Gonzaga head coach Mark Few.

Kerr, 56, has been among the NBA’s most successful head coaches since being hired by the Warriors in 2014. He has led Golden State to three titles and five appearances in the NBA Finals.

The decision on Kerr represents Grant Hill‘s first major move since taking over as managing director of USA Basketball, Wojnarowski notes (Twitter link), adding that Hill spent several months meeting with candidates and assembled a coaching team that has experienced success in the NBA, college and internationally.

Marc Stein first reported in September that Kerr was viewed as the frontrunner to be Popovich’s successor for USA Basketball.

And-Ones: I. Thomas, Trade Candidates, Lin, Noel, Draft

Team USA only won one of two games in the first round of qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup this week in Mexico, but veteran guard Isaiah Thomas played against both Cuba and Mexico, leading the U.S. with 42 total points and 13 assists in 49 minutes across the two contests.

After putting up 21 points in Team USA’s win over Cuba on Sunday, Thomas reiterated his desire to get back onto an NBA roster, while leaving the door open to the possibility of playing in an international league.

The ultimate goal is to get back in the NBA,” he said, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). “I just love playing the game of basketball. So, obviously, at some point, if the NBA isn’t an option I’ve got to look at options overseas. … I love competing and I love playing.”

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

  • In the latest HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozlan identified some potential trade candidates among the group of the players who will become eligible to be dealt on December 15 or January 15. Nuggets wing Will Barton, Pelicans swingman Josh Hart, Rockets center Daniel Theis, and a few Pistons veterans are among the players Scotto and Gozlan discussed.
  • Former NBA point guard Jeremy Lin has returned to the Beijing Ducks for another season, as EuroHoops relays. Lin, who has been out of the NBA since winning a title with Toronto in 2019, said in a statement that “playing basketball in China feels at home.”
  • After filing suit against his former agent Rich Paul, Knicks center Nerlens Noel now finds himself at odds with the players’ union. As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic explains, the NBPA’s standard player agent contract states that disputes should be settled through arbitration, which Noel has circumvented by taking his issue with Paul to court.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) updated their top-100 big board for the 2022 NBA draft on Tuesday and shared some insights on several college prospects. Auburn’s Jabari Smith made a significant impression on Schmitz, who said he was “blown away” by what he saw from the 18-year-old and considers him a potential dark horse to be next year’s No. 1 pick.

And-Ones: Okobo, I. Thomas, Team USA, Trade Deadline

Former Suns point guard Elie Okobo, who was the No. 31 overall pick in the 2018 draft, has been out of the NBA since the 2019/20 season and is playing in France this year. However, the 24-year-old tells Dionysis Aravantinos of HoopsHype that he envisions himself returning stateside at some point — he’s just not sure when.

“I didn’t really set goals about a return timetable, a deadline, or whatever,” Okobo said.” I want to improve, be ready, and I want to make sure I’m not going back to the NBA as a rookie, I want to set a certain standard, I want to come back with a status of a great EuroLeague player. I obviously want to have a long NBA career, but right now I’m focusing on the team and myself.”

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