Donovan Mitchell

Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan Out Of World Cup

Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan are the latest NBA stars to pass up a chance to join Team USA for the FIBA World Cup, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

Lillard, who agreed to a super-max extension with the Trail Blazers earlier this month, was rumored to be on the fence about playing in the tournament. DeRozan was added to the original list of training camp invites about a month ago, but he has elected to focus on the upcoming season.

That’s a common reason given by many of the stars who have withdrawn from camp, a list that also includes Anthony DavisJames HardenBradley BealCJ McCollum and Eric Gordon. A decision is expected soon from Kevin Love, while Kyle Lowry is recovering from a surgical procedure on his thumb and isn’t guaranteed to be physically ready for competition.

One player who is definitely remaining with the team is Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The camp will run from August 5-8, with the tournament scheduled for August 31 to September 14 in China.

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.

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.

Jazz Notes: Free Agency, Conley, Rubio, Favors

The Jazz enter the offseason with more flexibility than most teams, but will need to decide how much of their roster they want to keep, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake TribuneRicky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh will all be free agents, while five other players – Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Georges Niang, Raul Neto and Royce O’Neale – have either partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed contracts for next season.

Larsen expects O’Neale ($1.618MM for 2019/20) and Niang ($1.645MM) to be brought back because they are bargains at their current price. He adds that if Sefolosha or Udoh returns, it will likely be at a reduced salary.

The Jazz can clear up to $36.8 million in cap room by letting that whole group go, enough to offer a max deal in free agency. No matter how much is available, the priority will be to find more outside shooting.

“Adding a sniper at any position is something we’re going to have to strongly evaluate,” GM Dennis Lindsey said.

There’s more news out of Utah:

  • Another option for the Jazz is to revisit trade talks with the Grizzlies regarding point guard Mike Conley, Larsen adds in the same story. The teams weren’t able to work out a deal before the February deadline, and the Jazz were upset with Memphis’ front office because so much of the rumored trade became public. “Unfortunately, a team leaked something, and it was unethical,” Lindsey said.
  • The Jazz will consider all possibilities at point guard this summer, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. Those include bringing Rubio back, searching for a replacement in free agency or turning the position over to Donovan Mitchell.
  • Management was expecting this to be Favors’ final season with the team, but he played so well that they will consider picking up his $16.9MM deal for next year, Jones adds. A decision will have to be made by July 6.
  • Mitchell tells Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News he was frustrated by how the season turned out and plans to use the summer to get in better shape. “This is going to be huge for me just for my confidence standpoint and just to getting my mind, my body right and looking at guys and competing against guys like James Harden, Chris Paul and all those guys,” Mitchell said. “If I want to be like those guys, I’ve got to work and train like those guys and I think that’s where it starts.”

Jazz Notes: Rubio, Favors, Offseason

After making the Western Conference Semifinals in 2018, the Jazz kept their roster relatively intact and won another 50 games during the 2018/19 regular season. However, a quick first-round exit has the team thinking about potential roster changes this offseason, writes Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News.

“We want to move the group forward,” general manager Dennis Lindsey said on Thursday. “And while we have a very good team, the results told us that we don’t have a great team.”

A handful of Utah’s veterans, including Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors, are either headed for unrestricted free agency or have non-guaranteed salaries for next season, meaning there’s no guarantee they’ll be back. While Lindsey praised the “collective character” of the current group, he acknowledged that the roster could look different by the time the 2019/20 season gets underway.

“It’s got to fit the salary structure, it’s got to be a value add that they’re bringing something we don’t have and it has to be a really good fit,” Lindsey said of potential new additions. “We’ll certainly make every attempt to examine every piece of the organization, player personnel included, and try to move this group forward.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Favors, who has a $16MM non-guaranteed salary for next season, expressed a desire to stick with the Jazz, as Sorensen relays: “I prefer to come back here, the grass is not always greener. I’m here with a good organization. It’s been a blessing, I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully it can continue.”
  • While Rubio also said he’d like to return to the Jazz, his comments weren’t quite as unequivocal as Favors’, Sorensen notes. “One thing I’m going to look for sure is going to be the best situation for me with the coach and the team,” Rubio said. “I want to be happy, I’m going to try to find the best situation for me to be me and be happy.”
  • We should expect Utah to target shooters and play-makers in free agency this summer, in an effort to take some pressure off leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, writes John Coon of The Associated Press. Speaking of Mitchell, he believes the Jazz can make a strong pitch to free agent targets due to their collection of “unselfish” players who just want to win (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).
  • Joe Ingles believes the Jazz aren’t far off from being an “unbelievable” team, writes Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.
  • In an Insider-only article, ESPN’s Bobby Marks takes an in-depth look at Utah’s upcoming offseason from a cap perspective.

And-Ones: NBA Execs Poll, Mourning, Reid, Gray

Various NBA executives and coaches were polled this month by Tim Bontemps of ESPN, questioned on which sophomore player they’d rather have: Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum or De’Aaron Fox.

All four players are considered to be among the league’s best young talent, but ranking the players is tougher than what it seems. The polling from the ESPN article largely echoed the results of the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award race, with Simmons ranking first, Mitchell second, Tatum third, and Fox fourth. Simmons received as many first-place votes (nine) as the other three players did combined.

“Simmons is in his own class,” an Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps, “because of his size and passing ability, plus his defense. Having the ability to control the game at both ends is really valuable.”

Of the four players, Simmons is the only talent without a reliable jumpshot. The thought of him one day having a consistent jumper — in addition to his already mesmerizing passing, rebounding and driving abilities — could strike fear in teams around the league.

However, not all of those polled agreed with Simmons being one of the top choices of the four players.

“Simmons doesn’t shoot,” one West executive said. “If you’re a championship-caliber team, non-shooters can’t be on the floor.”

“He’s really f—ing good,” another said. “But where do you play him?”

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

  • NBA legend Alonzo Mourning is among 11 world class basketball personalities that make up FIBA Hall of Fame’s 2019 class of inductees, FIBA announced this week. Mourning joins Janeth Arcain (Brazil), Bogdan Tanjevic (Montenegro) and others to be inducted, having helped Team USA win the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1994. He also went on to help win a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
  • LSU expects to lose 19-year-old forward Naz Reid for the NBA Draft this spring, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com writes. “Yeah, we’re expecting to lose him,” LSU assistant Greg Heiar admitted last week. “If you’re a top-20 pick in the draft, you need to go. You need to go. It’s what his dream is so we want him to chase his dream. You never want to hold a young man back.” Along with Reid, another LSU player who could garner professional interest in the coming months is Tremont Waters, an improved 5’11” point guard with impressive handles and court vision.
  • Free agent Rob Gray has agreed to a deal in France with JL Bourg, according to Sportando. Gray started the 2018/19 season with Fort Wayne in the NBA G League, with their campaign officially coming to an end this past week. Gray played summer league and later joined the Rockets for training camp last fall, getting waived before the season began.

Details On How Porzingis Trade Talks Played Out

In his latest newsletter for The New York Times, Marc Stein takes a deep dive into the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis from New York to Dallas, sharing several interesting new details on the negotiations leading up to the deal itself.

Here’s a round-up of the highlights from Stein:

  • The Knicks spent a good portion of January canvassing the NBA for possible Porzingis trades, according to Stein, who hears the team was rebuffed when it inquired on potential targets like Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Kings guard De’Aaron Fox. After devoting much of the month to possible trade scenarios, the Knicks were convinced that no team besides Dallas would take on the Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee contracts while also offering a player like Dennis Smith Jr. along with multiple first-round picks, says Stein.
  • New York’s management group has known for years that the Mavericks were very interested in Porzingis, with one Mavs official joking to Stein that Dallas had approached the Knicks “about a hundred times” before they finally showed a willingness to move the All-Star big man. Conversely, the Knicks had been expressing interest in Smith all season, per Stein.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks had been discussing the framework of a possible Wesley Matthews/Hardaway deal for weeks, and began expanding those talks to include Porzingis on January 28, Stein writes. The two teams then worked in person toward finalizing the framework of a deal last Wednesday when the Mavs played the Knicks in New York. However, the Knicks wanted to wait until after they met with the Porzingis brothers on Thursday to make any decisions.
  • Following that Thursday meeting between Knicks management and the Porzingis brothers, Janis Porzingis (Kristaps’ agent) provided the club with a four-team list of preferred destinations, a source tells Stein. The Nets and Clippers were on that list, but the Mavericks weren’t. The Knicks opted to move quickly on the Mavs deal in part due to concern that Porzingis’ camp would leak that list and threaten to only sign long-term with those clubs, Stein adds.
  • The Knicks were informed that Porzingis was ready to leave the team and continue his injury rehab in Spain if he remained on the roster through the trade deadline, Stein hears.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, with an interesting quote to Stein: “It was my mistake to not keep Dirk [Nowitzki] and Steve [Nash] together longer. I won’t make the same mistake with Luka [Doncic] and KP.”
  • For what it’s worth, Stein reports that the threat of Kevin Durant leaving for the Knicks has “never felt more real” to the Warriors than it does now that New York has cleared two maximum-salary slots for the summer.

Jazz Eyeing Mike Conley, Otto Porter

The Jazz have continued to search for a “dynamic” third piece to add to their star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, who hears from sources that Utah has expressed interest in both Mike Conley of the Grizzlies and Otto Porter of the Wizards. Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Wednesday about the Jazz’s interest in Porter.

As Jones explains, Utah’s interest doesn’t mean the club will necessarily make an offer for either player. Conley’s and Porter’s contracts will also complicate matters, as both players are owed massive salaries through the 2020/21 season. Still, both players intrigue the Jazz, who may throw their hat into the ring if “circumstances align” and if they feel comfortable with forfeiting future cap room to lock in a productive veteran like Conley or Porter.

Here’s more from Jones on the Jazz:

  • While Conley or Porter would be expensive, their contracts are set to end around the same time Gobert’s deal expires and Mitchell’s second contract will begin, Jones observes. That timeline matches up well with what the Jazz would be looking for — there’s a sense that if they’re going to be aggressive trying to land a pricey impact player, it should happen while Mitchell is still on his rookie contract, says Jones.
  • Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey will continue to monitor the trade market over the next couple weeks in search of opportunities, according to Jones, who points to last year’s acquisition of Jae Crowder and this season’s trade for Kyle Korver as the sort of smaller-scale deals that have really helped the club.
  • Utah’s front office has “dreams” of being active and aggressive on the 2019 free agent market, sources tell Jones. So if they don’t make any major moves that cut into their future cap room before the trade deadline, the Jazz figure to be a team to watch this summer.
  • The Jazz weren’t caught off guard by Mitchell’s shooting struggles during the first couple months of the season, sources tell Jones. The team knew that a toe injury prevented the second-year guard from working out in the offseason and figured he might be a little slow to get going in his sophomore season. Mitchell has been an efficient scorer so far in 2019, shooting 48.1% from the floor in his last 11 games, including 44.3% on three-pointers, after shooting 40.7% (29.1% on threes) in his first 34.

Jazz Notes: Perimeter Needs, Donovan’s Long-Term Outlook

The Jazz had a disappointing start to the season, but there’s a belief in the league that the team will ascend up the Western Conference standings and land a solid seed in the postseason. However, Utah may be one piece away from competing with the top of the conference.

“The one thing about the Jazz is that they’re short an athlete,” an anonymous Eastern Conference scout tells Marc Stein of the New York Times (via his latest newsletter). “They’ve been exposed a little bit there. They’re short a disrupter on the perimeter — someone who gets that deflection, gets that extra ball, creates some easy baskets for them. They’ve been exposed a little bit by athletic teams.”

The team will be without a few contributors over the next few weeks. Ricky Rubio will miss approximately two weeks as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Thabo Sefolosha is expected to miss several games with a hamstring injury of his own and Dante Exum will be out a few weeks with a sprained ankle.

Here’s more from Utah:

  • Donovan Mitchell hasn’t been able to duplicate the success he found during his rookie campaign and it might be because the league has figured him out, as one scout tells Stein (same piece). “He’s not the new kid on the block anymore, so teams are able to guard him a little better,” the scout said. “He’s in a good situation where they have complete trust in him. They’ve given him the keys to the city. And if he has a bad game, they’re going to go to him again the next time. The Jazz are lucky to have him, but he’s lucky to be there, too.”
  • Mitchell will have to work on his game to become a more complete player, the same aforementioned scout tells Stein. “He isn’t a pure shooter like Damian Lillard…And he’s not as crafty in his game like C.J. McCollum,” the scout said. “Donovan is trying to develop that — those Tony Parker floaters, those McCollum shots. I think it’ll happen. The real chapter will be written on him next season. Last year he was the savior. This year it’s, ‘What happened?’ Next year will be the stock market correction of where he really is — and I would guess it’s going to be somewhere in the middle. He’s a good player, but he’s got some work to do.”
  • The Jazz have just 16 road games left while every other Western Conference team has at least 20 remaining, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes. Still, Rock cautions that this team may not kick it up a notch in the second half of the season as it did last year. The 2018/19 version of coach Quin Synder’s squad has yet to win more than three straight games.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Isaiah Thomas, Nuggets, 29, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
Thomas hoped to revive his career as a high-scoring sixth man for one of the league’s up-and-coming teams. Instead, Thomas has yet to make his Denver debut. Thomas continues to struggle with hip issues and there’s no timetable for his return. Just a couple of years removed from being a candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, Thomas has a cloudy future. It’s more likely he’ll be forced into early retirement than ever approaching his former level of excellence and that would be a shame.

Derrick Rose, Timberwolves, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
Seriously, did anyone think Rose would have another 25-point outing in his career, let alone twice as many points? Rose’s 50-point explosion against Utah on Halloween was a shocker and he’s remained a steady offensive threat since that blast from the past. He’s averaging 22.0 PPG and 4.0 APG over his last eight games. Once thought to be on the verge of retirement, Rose clearly still has a lot left in the tank. He’ll be getting a substantial raise in the open market if he keeps this up.

Abdel Nader, Thunder, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.16MM deal in 2017
The Celtics were about to cut Nader loose this summer until the Thunder came calling with a trade offer. The 2016 second-round pick has a non-guaranteed contract and he hasn’t done anything to convince Oklahoma City to keep him around after this season. Nader hasn’t been able to break into the wing rotation, playing a total of just 15 minutes. Nader will probably be looking for another fresh start in July.

Seth Curry, Trail Blazers, 28, PG (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $2.795MM deal in 2018
Curry left Dallas with the hope of reestablishing his value after missing all of last season with stress fracture in his lower left leg. It hasn’t started off the way Curry envisioned. He wasn’t effective in a backup role (6.09 PER) before missing the last four games with a knee injury. There’s still hope for Curry to turn things around and fill the role that Shabazz Napier played last season. The way it’s going now, he’ll be scrounging for another one-year deal next summer.

Ricky Rubio, Jazz, 28, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $55MM deal in 2015
The Jazz have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams during the first quarter of the season. The team’s starting point guard is partly to blame. Rubio, who is making nearly $15MM in his walk year, is shooting 37.3% from the field and over the last six games he’s averaging four assists while making 2.5 turnovers per game. Rubio needed to adjust his game when the team drafted dynamic creator Donovan Mitchell and right now, their backcourt pairing still seems a bit awkward. It’ll interesting to see if the Jazz look to move Rubio before the trade deadline to shake things up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.