Keldon Johnson

Olympic Notes: Grant, Johnson, Finals Trio, Randle, McGee

Bradley Beal won’t be able to participate in the Olympics due to health and safety protocols, but Team USA has Jerami Grant back on the roster, Joe Vardon of The Athletic tweets. The Pistons forward exited protocols and played 12 minutes in the team’s final tuneup, an 83-76 win over Spain on Sunday. Team USA will begin its quest for gold this Sunday against France.

We have more Olympic news and observations:

  • Gregg Popovich and managing director Jerry Colangelo raised some eyebrows when Keldon Johnson was promoted from the Select Team as an injury replacement. The Spurs wing is justifying that decision, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst notes. Johnson supplied 15 points in 17 minutes against Spain. “Keldon Johnson just played a solid basketball game,” Popovich said. “He shot it when he was open and when he did go to the bucket he was very physical.”
  • For the Olympic team’s sake, it would best for the Finals to end with a Milwaukee victory on Tuesday, Vardon writes. Devin BookerKhris Middleton and Jrue Holiday will join Team USA after the Finals are completed and it’s fair to wonder how much they’ll have left in the tank both physically and emotionally. Popovich hopes he can ease them into the Group play. “In some ways, it might depend on if everybody else is healthy, and if they’re not then they got to play,” he said. “We’ve gone over lots of scenarios, but we haven’t figured it out yet.”
  • Knicks All-Star Julius Randle was never offered the chance to join the U.S. team as an injury replacement, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Instead, Team USA opted for role players in Johnson and center JaVale McGee, who gives the team a much-needed shot blocker. “We decided that was the most logical and appropriate choice,’’ Popovich said. “Given the choices we had, (McGee) fit the best.”

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.

JaVale McGee, Keldon Johnson Added To Team USA Roster

6:05pm: Those additions are now official, USA Basketball tweets.

11:58am: Nuggets center JaVale McGee has been added to the U.S. Olympic team, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Spurs forward Keldon Johnson will fill the other open roster spot, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

They will take the place of Bradley Beal, who isn’t able to play after being placed in health and safety protocols, and Kevin Love, who withdrew from the team earlier today over concerns about the calf injury that forced him to miss most of the season.

McGee, 33, is a 13-year veteran and a three-time NBA champion. He will provide frontcourt depth for an American team that is loaded with guards and wing players, but is short on rebounders and rim protectors.

Johnson, 21, is coming off a breakthrough season after appearing just 17 games as a rookie. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists for San Antonio this year while starting 67 of the 69 games he played.

A member of the U.S. Select team that has scrimmaged against the Olympians, Johnson has the advantage of being very familiar with the system run by head coach Gregg Popovich. He had become a favorite of USA Basketball decision makers and staff, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Team USA was down to just six active players before today’s additions as Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton won’t join the team until after the NBA Finals. The Americans will open Olympic play July 25 against France.

Bradley Beal Enters Protocols, Olympic Status Uncertain

Team USA and Wizards guard Bradley Beal has entered the health and safety protocols in Las Vegas, placing his participation in the Tokyo Olympics in jeopardy, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets.

There is nothing definitive about that at this point regarding Beal’s status for Tokyo, Reynolds adds.

It would obviously be a major blow for USA Basketball if the high-scoring All-Star is ruled out of the Olympics. The team has already struggled during exhibition play in Las Vegas, dropping two of its first three games. Beal scored a team-high 17 points in a 108-80 win over Argentina on Tuesday. He has started all three of the squad’s games in Las Vegas.

Team USA’s quest for gold begins in just 11 days.

It’s also uncertain who would be called upon to replace Beal or any other player, if needed. It was suggested after the Spurs’ Keldon JohnsonCavaliers’ Darius Garland and Pistons’ Saddiq Bey were promoted from the Select Team to join Team USA in exhibition play that they would be considered as potential replacement players.

Olympic Notes: Johnson, Garland, Bey, Durant, Satoransky

The Spurs’ Keldon Johnson, Cavaliers’ Darius Garland and Pistons’ Saddiq Bey will move up from the U.S. Select Team and play for Team USA in exhibition games, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The trio will fill in for Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who will join Team USA after the Finals. Johnson, Garland and Bey would be candidates to join Team USA for the Olympics if any players have to bow out.

Exhibition games in Las Vegas will begin on Saturday with a matchup against Nigeria.

We have more on the Olympics:

  • Select Team members Cameron Reynolds, Josh Magette, John Jenkins and Dakota Mathias will remain in Las Vegas and will be available for exhibition games, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. The pool of Select Team players has been reduced by injuries and COVID-19 protocols. Timberwolves big man Naz Reid suffered a minor injury in Thursday’s practice, Windhorst adds.
  • Nets superstar Kevin Durant will look to collect his third gold medal in Tokyo and he’s energized by that possibility, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “I committed to USA Basketball when I was coming out of college,” Durant said. “And every chance that I can get that I’m healthy and my mind is in the right place to play basketball, I’m going to go out there and play. Finished the year off healthy, the regular season and the playoffs, so I felt it’d be cool to get a kickstart on next season by getting in shape a little earlier in the summer with Team USA.”
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine will be facing backcourt partner Tomas Satoransky in Group A play and he’s looking forward to the matchup, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. Satoransky will play for the Czech Republic, which is in Team USA’s Group along with Iran and France. “I’m looking forward to playing them and having some bragging rights,” LaVine said good-naturedly. “Hopefully, we really kick their butt.”

Roster Announced For U.S. Select Team

The roster has been released for the U.S. Select Team, which will help Team USA prepare for the Olympics, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Select Team, which will practice with and scrimmage against the national team during the upcoming training camp in Las Vegas, is made up mostly of first- and second-year NBA players. It will be coached by Erik Spoelstra of the Heat.

Making up the roster are:

Spurs Notes: DeRozan, Mills, Gay, K. Johnson

After falling to the Grizzlies in the play-in tournament, the Spurs face important decisions on their veteran players. DeMar DeRozan will be one of the biggest names on the free agent market this summer, and San Antonio must decide whether to make a long-term investment in the 31-year-old guard on a team filled with young talent.

The Spurs will have an exclusive window to reach a new deal with DeRozan before free agency begins August 1, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider article). DeRozan is eligible for an extension that could pay him up to $149.1MM over the next four seasons, including a $33.3MM starting salary for 2021/22.

If DeRozan reaches the open market, Marks identifies the Hornets, Mavericks, Heat and Knicks as teams that would have cap space and interest in signing the high-scoring guard. He suggests New York, which will have $55MM available, could be tempted to reunite DeRozan with his long-time friend and former Raptors backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry.

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Similar decisions will have to be made on Patty Mills and Rudy Gay, who are both headed to free agency, Marks adds in the same piece. Mills, who will turn 33 this summer, has spent most of his career with the Spurs and was considered a Sixth Man of the Year candidate during the first half of the season. Gay, who turns 35 in August, is a dependable three-point shooter and an effective weapon off the bench.
  • After spending much of his rookie year in the G League, Keldon Johnson made significant progress during his second NBA season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The 21-year-old small forward started 67 games this year and appears to be part of the Spurs’ foundation heading forward. “I’ve learned a lot,” Johnson said. “I’ve grown a lot — on and off the court — from just observing (coach Gregg Popovich) and how he goes about things. … He’s taught me so many things.”
  • Popovich is encouraged by the progress his team made this season, but he cautions that becoming a title contender won’t happen right away, Orsborn tweets. “That takes time,” Popovich said. “… The more these guys get to practice together, the more they develop, hopefully the record will bend in the correct direction.”

Southwest Notes: Thomas, New Rockets, Hart, Johnson

With veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas now joining the Pelicans on a 10-day contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that New Orleans will be an additional $110,998 closer to the NBA’s luxury tax cap. Thomas, meanwhile, will earn $159,698 during his 10-day stint with the club.

Marks adds that the Pelicans remains $253,803 below the tax at present, but, assuming new addition James Johnson does not achieve certain bonus clauses in his expiring $16MM deal, the team may save an additional $253K at season’s end.

Thomas will wear jersey No. 24 in tribute to departed Lakers star Kobe Bryant, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. He last wore No. 4 with the Wizards during the 2019/20 season. The 5’9″ point guard will not suit up this evening for the Pelicans as they face off against the Rockets, due to the league’s coronavirus protocols, but is expected to join the club Monday, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Former Heat and Celtics teammates Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk are excited to remain together for the rebuilding Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Feigen notes that the duo has played more games together than anyone else on Houston. “That’s kind of a crazy stat that [he and I] have played more together than any other two teammates on our team,” Olynyk observed. “Hopefully, we can bring that chemistry.”
  • The 21-27 Pelicans will strive to make a playoff push without injured shooting guard Josh Hart. Hart is expected to miss several weeks with a torn UCL in his right thumb, writes Christian Clark of“Could he get back by the end of the year? Yeah,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But he’s not going to be back in two weeks. It’s a significant amount of time. He’s going to miss the vast majority of what’s left of the season.” New Orleans, the No. 12 seed, is currently just 1.5 games behind the tenth-seeded Warriors (and a play-in opportunity) in the West at present.
  • Second-year Spurs wing Keldon Johnson is discovering how to navigate erratic output as he continues to hone his NBA game, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News“That’s just the NBA for you,” his teammate Derrick White said. “The league kind of figures you out, and you just got to make adjustments.” Even still, Johnson has increased his contributions on the floor for San Antonio. He has started 42 of his 44 contests with the Spurs this year, after starting just one game last season, and has seen his minutes and touches increase significantly.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Johnson, Gabriel, Spurs

Nets guard James Harden will have his No. 13 jersey retired by his former team, the Rockets, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. In a 132-114 victory tonight, Harden recorded a triple-double in his first game against his Houston since being traded earlier this season. The loss marks Houston’s 13th straight.

“James Harden will always be a Rocket,” team owner Tilman Fertita said via text message. “Of course, we will retire his jersey. He made my first three years of owning this franchise unforgettable. The success he brought this franchise over eight years and the memories he created for our fan base/community (are) truly remarkable.”

In postgame comments made tonight, Harden revealed that he discovered the news of his impending jersey retirement online, per Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). “My reaction was hopefully I did something right,” he said.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Second-year Spurs small forward Keldon Johnson returned to the floor for San Antonio yesterday after clearing the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, tweets Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • The Pelicans sent forward Wenyen Gabriel to join their G League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, according to a team press release. The BayHawks clinched a spot in the upcoming NBAGL playoffs thanks to their play on the Orlando “bubble” campus.
  • Even with key Spurs rotation players Derrick White, Rudy Gay and Devin Vassell unavailable, a thinned-out San Antonio roster has proved resilient against opponents, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News“They have dug down deep all year,” head coach Gregg Popovich said. “They never give in.” Trey Lyles, in his second year with the club, has flourished as a starter in his last four games for San Antonio, averaging 11.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG.

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.