Brook Lopez

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Giannis, Rose, Hutchison

Eric Bledsoe is expected to be ready for the Bucks‘ opener on Thursday, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays.

“I kind of knew what it was, in a sense,” said Bledsoe, who suffered a rib cage injury earlier in the preseason. “I knew it wasn’t nothing serious… I knew I was going to bounce back.”

Bledsoe will join Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and newcomer Wesley Matthews in the Bucks’ starting lineup, Velazquez adds in the same piece. Matthews will take over for Malcolm Brogdon, who was traded to the Pacers this offseason.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today argues that the Bucks have done everything right to keep Antetokounmpo around long-term. Milwaukee can offer Giannis the super-max next summer.
  • How Derrick Rose performs will go a long way toward whether the Pistons make the postseason, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Rose signed a two-year deal with the club this offseason.
  • There are plenty of questions surrounding second-year Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who notes that it may be hard for the club to find rotation minutes for Hutchison even once he’s recovered from his hamstring injury.

Central Notes: Rose, Beilein, Giannis, Brogdon

Guard Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons because he feels the team can contend, Vince Ellis of the Free Press writes. Rose inked a two-year, $15MM deal with Detroit in free agency to lead its second unit. “I’ve had all the accolades in the past. I’m past that. Now I want to win,” he said. “The only thing on my résumé I’m missing is a championship and being here, seeing what happened last year with the Raptors in (the) East, you never know what can happen.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are amazed by new coach John Beilein’s work ethic and the 66-year-old’s energy level, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “He has more energy than I do,” forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “He’s always going, always has something on his mind, always something he’s ready to talk about, teach and coach. It’s really exciting to see because as a player that’s what you want. You want somebody that is so eager to get started that they can’t even slow down.
  • The Bucks bet on continuity in their efforts to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a super-max extension next summer, Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. They managed to re-sign Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill in free agency and only lost one starter, Malcolm Brogdon. “We brought back a big part of the group; we believe in continuity,” GM Jon Horst said. “We think that gives us an advantage to have continuity. … This group looks like they’re growing, looks like they’re getting better, looks like they fit and they make sense and that we can compete and sustain success for a long period of time with this group and that’s been the goal.”
  • Despite Brogdon’s departure, the Bucks have plenty of options at shooting guard and small forward, Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. “I think the vision going forward is with the addition of Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver as wings that have proven that they are elite-level shooters and great defenders,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Got young guys like Donte (DiVincenzo), Pat (Connaughton) and Sterling (Brown) that are all proven to some degree.” Hill, who signed a three-year, $29MM deal, is another option for Budenholzer.

Central Notes: Horst, Pistons, Kornet, Holidays

Eric Nehm of The Athletic recently sat down with the Bucks’ award-winning GM Jon Horst to discuss the team’s free agency this summer. Here are a few noteworthy passages from Horst’s interview.

Regarding the team’s ability to bring back Khris Middleton on a five-year deal:

“Khris was always a focus… He’s our second superstar, our second star. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of our best players for a long period of time here… Khris was a target obviously and he got a contract that represents that and we think it’s a great contract because we got our second All-Star locked up for the next five years.”

Regarding the team’s trade of Tony Snell and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer in order to create the requisite cap space needed to re-sign Brook Lopez:

“When we got Brook last offseason, we understood, at some level, how important he was going to be to us… (and) we also understood if he’s as good as we think he’s going to be, it’s going to present a lot of challenges.”

“So, we spent the entire year trying to prepare for that… Just different things we did throughout the year were in preparation to position ourselves to either be prepared to keep Brook, be in a position to keep Brook or be prepared to react if we couldn’t… I don’t know if a lot of people saw it coming, maybe after the Tony Snell deal. Then, maybe they were like, ‘Okay, this is how they’re going to try to do it.’ But before that, I don’t think people saw the moves we lined up to position ourselves to hopefully keep Brook and I’m very thankful we were able to.”

Regarding the decision to trade RFA Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana and whether the luxury tax was a factor in that decision:

“I think there’s a lot that goes into restricted free agency. It’s a monster. Malcolm is very, very important and we knew how important he was to our team. It will be hard to replace him. I think we’ve done the best that we can and we’ll continue to work in ways to be creative and fill that gap.”

“I would say the luxury tax was only part of the consideration for not matching or not being willing to pay Malcolm the market that he was able to get from Indiana. Whether or not he had that market from anywhere else besides Indiana, I don’t know. The decision on Malcolm was much more about our internal evaluations, the roster fit, the ability to be flexible and have options going forward and just building a team that, as I always say, can sustain success over a long period.”

There’s more from the Central Division this afternoon:
  • Horst confirmed in the above interview that the Bucks were not able to create a traded player exception when they traded Brogdon to Indiana, as the signing of George Hill with cap space occurred after the trade, and teams lose their exceptions (other than the Room MLE) when they go under the cap.
  • Taking a look at what each player’s role may be for the Pistons’ during the 2019/20 season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com opines that there are five guys locked in to being sure-fire rotation pieces – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Derrick Rose, and three who will almost certainly join that group – Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, and Bruce Brown.
  • The Bulls are hoping that the three-point shooting ability of free-agent addition, big man Luke Kornet, will be a nice complement next to starter Wendell Carter Jr. and fellow reserve, rookie Daniel Gafford, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
  • Pacers’ new addition Justin Holiday is excited about the prospect of playing with his baby brother, reserve point guard Aaron Holiday, reports Scott Agness of The Athletic. “It was the best situation I had at this time,” Justin said. “(T)he Pacers obviously being a contender every year and going to the playoffs, and then also them having my brother was something that was very, very enticing for me. To be able to be a part of that culture and play with my brother, I think it made it pretty simple where I needed to go.”

Brook Lopez Re-Signs With Bucks

JULY 6: The Bucks have officially re-signed Lopez, the team announced today in a press release.

JUNE 30: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that free agent big man Brook Lopez is planning to sign a four-year, $52MM deal to stay with the Bucks. As I wrote earlier today, Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box first reported that Lopez was a good bet to return. There will be no options on the deal, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

Lopez, who signed with the Bucks last season for the bi-annual exception worth only $3.4MM, will get a substantial raise after becoming an essential part of the Bucks’ growth into a championship contender under new coach Mike Budenholzer.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that it’s still unclear how Lopez’s contract will be structured, with the two likeliest possibilities being a flat $13MM per season through 2022/23 or a lower starting salary with standard 5% raises (Milwaukee can’t offer 8% raises because they only have Lopez’s Non-Bird rights).

Additionally, because the Bucks only have Lopez’s Non-Bird rights, they will need to renounce the cap holds for both Lopez and Nikola Mirotic and then re-sign Lopez using cap space. In order to retain the most space, Milwaukee will likely opt for the latter structure for Lopez’s contract.

The Kings were said to have interest in Lopez (along with a lot of other centers it would seem), as were the Lakers (link), but the Bucks and he were always motivated to get a deal done early in free agency.

The 31-year-old center, who was an All-Star with the Nets earlier in his career, will look to continue his improved three-point shooting next season after converting a career-high 36.5% from long range during the 2018/19 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Middleton, Butler, Kanter, Temple

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the quietness surrounding the free agency destination of Bucks’ All-Star forward Khris Middleton is because interested front offices are universally presuming that Middleton is going back to Milwaukee on a “monster” five-year deal.

Middleton, 27, is eligible to sign a five-year, $189.904MM maximum-salary contract with the Bucks, while rival suitors can only (relatively speaking, of course) offer up to $140.791MM over four years.

Echoing Stein’s sentiment from rival front offices, Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box reports that Middleton is expected to re-sign with Milwaukee, adding that Brook Lopez and George Hill are also considered good bets to return.

Free Agent Rumors: Klay, Horford, Brogdon, Jordan

The Warriors have long hinted that they plan to offer Klay Thompson a five-year, maximum-salary deal, and there have been no signals that they’ll change that stance in the wake of Thompson’s torn ACL. So why are there rumblings about Thompson potentially meeting with other teams if the Warriors don’t put that offer on the table right away?

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst, there are some “outstanding issues” that could force Thompson to try to generate some added leverage. Stephen Curry‘s five-year deal with the Warriors didn’t include a fifth-year opt-out or a no-trade clause, setting a precedent for what Golden State’s five-year max deals might look like going forward, as the ESPN duo notes. If Thompson prioritizes a player option or a no-trade clause, talking to the Lakers and/or Clippers may be his best chance to create a little extra leverage with the Warriors.

Elsewhere on the Warriors front, Draymond Green is eligible for a contract extension and is open to discussing a new deal before he reaches free agency in 2020, sources tell ESPN. Those talks are expected to happen later in the offseason, though I’d be surprised if they get something done, since Green could earn more in free agency.

Here’s more from Shelburne and Windhorst on the 2019 free agent class:

  • The Sixers and Kings are among the potential suitors for Al Horford, according to ESPN’s report. Sacramento, in particular, has a clear path to making Horford a big offer, but the club is believed to have other centers – including Brook Lopez and Nikola Vucevic – on its list of potential targets, per ESPN.
  • League executives believe a team may look to pry Malcolm Brogdon away from the Bucks by putting together an offer sheet that starts at a high number and descends in later seasons, according to Shelburne and Windhorst. A player option and various bonuses could also be added to such an offer sheet, the ESPN duo adds, identifying the Bulls, Suns, Mavericks, and Celtics (if they don’t get Kemba Walker) as possible suitors for Brogdon.
  • The Bucks will almost certainly waive George Hill to avoid guaranteeing his $19MM salary, but there’s mutual interest in a new deal between the two sides, especially if the club doesn’t retain Brogdon, according to ESPN.
  • DeAndre Jordan is believed to have interest in playing in Los Angeles again, sources tell ESPN. Either the Clippers or Lakers could be a fit for the veteran center.

Bucks Rumors: Brogdon, Lopez, Hill, Mirotic

After entering the exclusive 50/40/90 shooting club in 2018/19, Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon will be a sought-after target this offseason. Sources tell Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox.com that the Sixers and Pacers are among the teams considering making a play for the restricted free agent.

Four NBA sources who spoke to Woelfel predicted that Brogdon would receive an offer in the range of $16-21MM per year. And while most of those sources have heard that the Bucks plan to match any offer on Brogdon, they’re not all entirely convinced that will happen.

“They can say that now, but I’m sure the Bucks, just like any team, have a cutoff point where they won’t go over to keep him,” an Eastern Conference executive said to Woelfel. “I still think he (Brogdon) is the odd guy out in Milwaukee.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe expressed a similar sentiment during the network’s free agency special on Tuesday night. As relayed by Sagar Trika (via Twitter), the two ESPN insiders discussed whether Milwaukee would be able to retain all three of Brogdon, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez, and agreed that Brogdon might be the trickiest to bring back.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • The Bucks and Brook Lopez are both motivated to get a deal done, a source tell Chris Mannix of SI.com. Woelfel’s sources believe Lopez will get an annual salary in the range of $10-13MM in free agency, and view Los Angeles as a potential fit for the big man if he doesn’t stick with the Bucks. “I’ve been hearing a quite a bit about the Lakers and Lopez,” one executive told Woelfel.
  • Executives who spoke to Woelfel view George Hill as a candidate to receive an offer in the neighborhood of $7-10MM if and when he’s released by the Bucks. That would make him a target for teams with the full mid-level exception available.
  • One NBA executive predicted a salary in the $13-15MM range for Nikola Mirotic, while another league official split the difference and projected $14MM, Woelfel writes. Mirotic is considered more likely to leave the Bucks than to re-sign, given the club’s cap limitations.
  • Veteran guard Xavier Munford, who has previously appeared in NBA games for Memphis and Milwaukee, will suit up for the Bucks’ Summer League squad in July, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN.com.

Rockets Eyeing Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, Others

While Jimmy Butler is the Rockets‘ “dream addition,” the team has its eye on a number of other potential targets in free agency, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

[RELATED: Rockets to pursue sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler]

A source with knowledge of the Rockets’ plans tells Amick that Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu, DeAndre Jordan, Brook Lopez, and Kevon Looney are among the veteran free agents that have piqued the club’s interest.

General manager Daryl Morey has indicated that the Rockets would like to add a third star to complement James Harden and Chris Paul, whose supposedly “unsalvageable” relationship was referred to as “fake news” by P.J. Tucker within Amick’s story. Multiple reports have identified Butler as the team’s most likely target.

However, there are a number of roadblocks standing in the way of acquiring Butler — the Sixers would have to agree to a sign-and-trade, a third team would likely have to be involved due to Base Year Compensation rules, and Houston’s ability to fill out a roster around Harden, Paul, and Butler would be extremely limited due to a hard cap. And, of course, Butler would have to want to go to Houston badly enough to try to make it all work.

If the Rockets strike out on Butler, they’re more likely to simply operate as an over-the-cap team and make use of the mid-level exception to add another rotation player to their core. Depending on the club’s proximity to the tax apron, that mid-level could either be worth about $9.25MM (full) or $5.71MM (taxpayer).

That’s where the free agents listed above would come in to play, though even some of those guys – including Green, Lamb, and Lopez – may be out of reach with the mid-level (especially the taxpayer MLE) unless they’re willing to take a bit of a discount. All the players named by Amick will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

Lakers To Pursue Brook Lopez, Jordan?

Could a Brook Lopez-Lakers reunion be in the works? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, it’s possible (hat tip to RealGM).

Windhorst said on an ESPN podcast that the Lakers are interested in bringing in a center, with Lopez and DeAndre Jordan being potential targets on the free agent market.

“The Lakers, I think, are sniffing around (Lopez). I think the Lakers need perimeter players. I think they’re going to have to use their money on perimeter players. I know DeAndre Jordan is a guy on the Lakers’ radar that they’re hoping they may able to get for relatively cheap because he wants to be back in L.A.”

Lopez was one of the biggest bargains in free agency last season after the Lakers let him walk. He signed a one-year, $3.4MM contract with the Bucks and proved to be a great fit for Milwaukee’s scheme. He started 81 games during the regular season and averaged 12.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 2.2 BPG while draining 36.5% of his 3-point tries. The previous season, Lopez played 74 games with the Lakers and posted 13.0/4.0/1.3 averages in those categories.

Jordan, the longtime Clippers center, had a disappointing 50-game stay with the Mavericks before he was tossed into the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster with the Knicks. He started 19 games for New York and averaged 10.9 PPG and 11.4 RPG.

The Lakers have also been linked to Nikola Vucevic, so presumably they’re planning to go very big and use Anthony Davis quite a bit at power forward and LeBron James at small forward.