Jayson Tatum

Olympic Notes: Tatum, Durant, Holiday, P. Gasol

Team USA has one Olympic loss already and now that the medal round is here, another defeat would end its gold medal hopes. The Americans will face Spain in the quarterfinals and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum could be the key to advancing, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Spain captured the FIBA World Cup in 2019, but Tatum played in just two games after being injured early in the tournament. He’s fully healthy now and has gotten over a slow start in the Olympics, scoring 27 points in Saturday’s rout of the Czech Republic.

“Our confidence never wavered,” said Tatum, whose team lost a pair of exhibition games in Las Vegas, then dropped its Olympic opener against France. “We understood that it wasn’t gonna be easy. We didn’t have our full team until four days ago, five days ago, so we knew that we had a lot of challenges ahead of us. And we also know that we would continue to get better every day. We would get better from each game, each practice, just the more time that we spent together, we were never going to be the same team, from day one, that we are now. And hopefully, we’re better this time next week than we were today.”

There’s more from Tokyo:

  • Kevin Durant reached a milestone Saturday, passing Carmelo Anthony as Team USA’s all-time leading scorer in Olympic competition, Vardon adds in a separate story. Durant, who is seeking his third gold medal, now has 354 total points. “It is special to do something like that,” he said. “Scoring is something I worked on my whole career and something I’ve expanded my whole career, and being able to consistently do it is pretty cool.”
  • The U.S. didn’t have a pure point guard until Jrue Holiday joined the team, says Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Holiday was busy with the playoffs during training camp and exhibition play and didn’t leave for Japan until after the Bucks’ championship parade. “His entry onto the team, late as it was, has had an immediate effect, because he garners so much respect from his teammates,” coach Gregg Popovich said.
  • After undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot, Pau Gasol was determined not to let it end his career, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The 41-year-old has battled back and is playing an important role for Spain. “I love the game,” Gasol said. “I wanted to finish my career playing. I had such an incredible, extraordinary career that I didn’t want the injury to finish it for me.”

Olympics Notes: K. Johnson, Lillard, Tatum, Exhibition Game

Keldon Johnson isn’t on Twitter, so he was one of the last people at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas to find out that the has been added to the Olympic team, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Johnson and JaVale McGee were announced as replacements Friday after Bradley Beal was sidelined by health and safety protocols and Kevin Love withdrew over concerns about his injured calf.

“(Team USA managing director) Jerry (Colangelo) came up to me and he kind of broke the news to me,” Johnson said. “I mean, I was lost for words. I didn’t really know what to say but thank you for the opportunity and trust in me to go over there and take care of business with the other guys.”

Johnson came to Las Vegas as a member of the U.S. Select Team, which scrimmages against the Olympians in training camp. He got a chance to play during exhibition games because team members Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton are all taking part in the NBA Finals.

Johnson originally signed up for a four-day commitment as part of the select team, but now his Olympic experience will last until the Games conclude on August 8. He said the best part so far was breaking the news to his family, many of whom have military experience.

“My mom cried, my dad was choking up a little bit, everybody was like, because you know you pray for moments like this,” Johnson said. “… It was a special moment.”

There’s more on the Olympics:

  • As rumors swirl around Damian Lillard‘s future in Portland, the loss of Beal means he will have to take on a greater responsibility for scoring, Vardon adds in a separate story. Lillard and Kevin Durant will be the focus of the offense as the team heads to Tokyo next week. “I wouldn’t say carry the team, but obviously we’ll have significant roles on the team,” Lillard said. “I think myself and KD will have to go over there and play a significant role, and we’ll have to do what we do, but I don’t look at it like we have to carry the team. It’s a team of the best players across our league.”
  • Preparing for his first Olympics, Jayson Tatum is still adjusting to the international rules, per Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports. Tatum said players have been reminding each other of the differences during this week’s exhibition games.
  • Team USA is still slated to close its exhibition schedule Sunday night against Spain. Friday’s game against Australia was canceled due to “an abundance of caution” relating to COVID-19.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Harrison, Vildoza, Knicks

Speaking to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum discussed the hiring of new Boston head coach Ime Udoka, logging time with Team USA in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, and more.

“Extremely happy about Ime,” Tatum said of Udoka. “I’ve known him for a little while. He’s extremely motivated and I think everybody has a good feeling about this. I think this is going to be great.” Tatum noted that he and fellow Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown were both consulted as the team interviewed a variety of head coach candidates.

“It was tough, just everything that we had to endure, everything that kind of happened,” Tatum said of the Celtics’ disappointing 2020/21 season, which saw the club finish as the No. 7 seed in the East and lose in the first round to the Nets. “It put in perspective and made me appreciate those good years that we had and we made those deep playoff runs. It’s not always guaranteed and it made me appreciate that.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Shooting guard D’Angelo Harrison is scheduled to attend the Sixers‘ mini-camp later in July, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Since going undrafted out of St. John’s in 2015, the 6’4″ 27-year-old has played for a variety of international teams. During the 2020/21 season, Harrison played for Italian League club New Basket Brindisi.
  • Newly-added Knicks point guard Luca Vildoza showed off his sharpshooting bona fides during an Olympics exhibition match for Team Argentina last Saturday, as Marc Berman of the New York Post details. Vildoza connected on three of his eight three-point looks in the 87-84 loss to Team Australia.
  • The Knicks have a clear need to upgrade their starting point guard position. With that in mind, Ian Begley of SNY.tv examines several restricted free agent options for New York, noting that lead guards who are not ball-dominant (including Lonzo BallKendrick Nunn, and Devonte’ Graham) could be ideal fits alongside All-Star forward Julius Randle, who thrives with the ball in his hands.

Olympics Notes: Booker, Tatum, Durant, Edwards

Despite his extended playoff run with the Suns, Devin Booker isn’t having any second thoughts about his Olympic commitment, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Booker told reporters today that even if the NBA Finals go to a seventh game, which would be played July 22, he plans to be in Japan for Team USA’s opener against France three days later.

“Next (plane) smoking. I’ll be there,” he said. “I’ll be there. But obviously not my main focus right now. I’ve reached out to Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich), I reached out to (Jerry) Colangelo just recently and then I told them I saw all the guys reported to Vegas, and any other place I would rather be is the Finals, but I would love to be there with the guys and I’ll be there soon.”

Booker may miss all of Team USA’s 13-day training camp, which began today at UNLV. The Americans, who are also without Bucks guards Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, will play exhibition games against Nigeria, Australia, Argentina and Spain before heading to Tokyo.

“Very important. Life goal of mine,” Booker said. “I’ve always said, I think it’s the most prestigious event that basketball can find. So to be a part of representing your country I think brings you to another stratosphere. Just thinking of the guys that have come before us and represented our country, and I don’t think there’s anything better than winning a gold medal.”

There’s more Olympics news to pass along:

  • Wearing No. 10 has been a tradition for Celtics forward Jayson Tatum in international basketball and it has taken on added significance following Kobe Bryant‘s death last year, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Bryant wore the number while winning gold medals in 2008 and 2012, and Tatum recognizes the importance behind it. “With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value,” he said. “It’s not something I take lightly.”
  • Many were pleasantly surprised that Nets star Kevin Durant opted to play in the Olympics, and Popovich was especially delighted, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Popovich joked that he would have begged and cried to convince Durant to join the team, then said it shows the forward’s commitment to the game. Durant won gold medals in 2012 and 2016 and is 39-0 in FIBA competition.
  • Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards of the U.S. Select Team sprained his ankle today in a scrimmage with Team USA, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The injury, which happened when Edwards stepped on Draymond Green‘s foot, isn’t viewed as serious, but Edwards will be sidelined for the rest of camp.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Udoka, Stevens, Tatum

New Celtics coach Ime Udoka considers Marcus Smart to be a “foundational piece” for the future, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Udoka made the comments during a radio interview today, indicating that the team will rely heavily on Smart, who’s expected to take over as point guard following the trade of Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City.

“What Marcus brings is invaluable, it’s the heart and soul of the team at times,” Udoka said. “… He has that edge and toughness about him … He’s another foundational piece … What he does for Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) is invaluable, in my eyes” (Twitter link).

Smart will make $14.3MM next season on the final year of his contract. The Celtics may try to work out an extension to keep him from reaching free agency next summer.

There’s more from Boston:

  • In his introductory press conference Monday, Udoka said he’s looking forward to helping the Celtics’ young stars improve, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Udoka revealed that he has met with Smart, Brown and Tatum, and they all expressed a desire to be pushed. “I’m not worried about our group worrying about hard coaching,” Udoka said. “They are asking for that, and it’s something I’m going to bring to the table.”
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens started his coaching search with a long list of names, but conversations with his players pushed him toward Udoka, Forsberg writes in a full story. Boston’s three stars had experience with Udoka as part of Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and they all recommended him. “I’m quick to put my arm around guys but also quick to hold them accountable,” Udoka told reporters. “And so there’s a fine balance there. But that’s all based on relationships and respect and what I do demand from those guys.”
  • Tatum was disappointed to be left off the All-NBA team and not just because of the money it cost him, relays Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. Tatum discussed the decision, which could have added $32.6MM to his contract extension, in an appearance on the Kicks’ “Beyond the Press” podcast. “I wasn’t necessarily upset about losing the money,” he said. “I think I just felt like the way I was playing, everything I did, I thought it should have been a no-brainer. I think I was just more frustrated with that.”

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Smart, Raptors, De Colo, Simmons

New Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was intrigued by the chance to work under Brad Stevens, a president of basketball operations uniquely positioned to understand Udoka’s role as well as anyone, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

The Celtics, in turn, were drawn to Udoka due to his work ethic, his pedigree – including his experience working under Gregg Popovich – and his ability to connect with a young team. According to Himmelsbach, during Udoka’s previous stints as an assistant, he’d often go out for dinner with players to learn more about them.

Udoka’s final interview with the Celtics took place on Sunday, with Stevens, team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and VP of player development Allison Feaster all present. While that group ultimately made the decision to hire Udoka, the C’s also sought input from former president of basketball ops Danny Ainge and multiple players, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Himmelsbach notes.

As Udoka takes the reins in Boston, he’ll be tasked with rebuilding the Celtics’ defensive identity and developing the club’s young talent, Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes in an Insider-only story. Pelton suggests that Udoka may also prioritize increasing the team’s ball movement and putting players in positions to create shots for teammates — Boston’s rate of assisted field goals ranked 27th in the NBA in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Marcus Smart isn’t a traditional point guard, but he’s a “criminally underrated” passer, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who outlines why Smart could be the Celtics‘ starter at the point in 2021/22 with Kemba Walker gone.
  • The Raptors secured the fourth overall pick in a draft that is viewed as having at least four top-tier prospects, but that doesn’t mean they’re content with simply staying put and taking whichever player drops to them, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. General manager Bobby Webster suggested the club will be open to a variety of scenarios with that selection. “All of our options are open,” Webster said. “As much as we would love the pick, we’re going to see what it yields outside of the draft.”
  • Veteran guard Nando De Colo, who technically remains a Raptors restricted free agent despite not having played in the NBA since 2014, will return to Fenerbahce in Turkey for at least one more season, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Toronto has issued De Colo a qualifying offer for seven straight years to retain his RFA rights and will likely do so again this summer.
  • While there’s no guarantee that the Ben Simmons era in Philadelphia will come to an end this offseason, Chris Mannix of SI.com believes that it should, arguing that Simmons and the Sixers would both benefit from a fresh start.

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.

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.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.

Celtics Rumors: Kemba, Fournier, Coaching Search, Ainge, Stevens, More

As he transitions from the sidelines to the front office, new Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will have some immediate decisions to make on the roster this offseason as he considers how to improve a group that finished seventh in the East in 2020/21.

Trading Kemba Walker is one path the Celtics figure to consider this summer, but the point guard still has two years and nearly $74MM left on his contract and his value is down after an injury-plagued season. While Walker is viewed as a player capable of having a strong comeback season, he’s not considered a positive asset at this point, given his injury history and contract situation, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps and Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

“They’ve been trying to move Kemba Walker for a year now and no one is touching that,” one NBA executive told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “Their best bet would be to move (Marcus) Smart, but I don’t know what his market is. They could trade (Jaylen) Brown to try to fill a different position, but that would be a bad move.”

Evan Fournier‘s unrestricted free agency is another issue looming over the Celtics. One league executive who spoke to Scotto estimated that the veteran wing will be seeking a deal worth $15-20MM annually, though another predicted a cool market for Fournier.

“The issue will be what teams with room are going to target him?” that exec asked. “San Antonio might, but if not, who else will give him north of $10 million? If Fournier can be kept at a price around the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, I think Boston would re-sign him.”

Here are several more Celtics rumors and updates on an eventful day in Boston:

  • The Celtics’ head coaching search will likely start with internal candidates before they move outside the organization, sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link). Current assistant Jerome Allen is one in-house candidate likely to get an interview, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Mannix (via Twitter) adds Nets assistant Ime Udoka to the list of probable external candidates for the Celtics’ head coaching job, while Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) says Chauncey Billups will likely receive consideration as well.
  • Asked today whether he intends to retire or seek another job, Danny Ainge was noncommittal, telling reporters that he’s not sure what his future holds and he’s focused for now on getting his successor Stevens up to speed (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic hears that in-season comments by Ainge and team owner Wyc Grousbeck about the Celtics’ shortcomings may have contributed to the club’s chemistry issues. Ainge said in February that he didn’t view the roster as championship-caliber and echoed that point multiple times later in the season.
  • One prominent member of the Celtics organization wanted to fire Stevens as the team’s head coach during the 2020/21 season, but Ainge and others in the organization were against that idea, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
  • Speaking to reporters following the Celtics’ elimination from the postseason, Jayson Tatum said he doesn’t feel the need to get involved in the front office’s personnel decisions, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston takes a look at five key roster-related questions facing the Celtics this offseason.