Luis Scola

Olympics Notes: Team USA, Brown, Agada, Scola

Team USA is still be the favorite to capture the gold medal in Tokyo, but there are plenty of questions after Saturday’s 90-87 loss to Nigeria in exhibition play, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Coached by Mike Brown and sporting seven current NBA players on its roster, Nigeria led throughout the fourth quarter and held off American rallies with a combination of physical defense and three-point shooting, hitting 20 of 42 from beyond the arc.

“That’s a talented group of players. It’s not a bunch of people off the street playing basketball,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “Every year, teams are better and better, and every year, one or two or three more NBA players are on their teams, so they’re a quality team. Mike’s done a great job with them, and they’re as athletic as anybody. They’re very physical, and they’ve been practicing for three weeks.”

Team USA is loaded with All-Stars, but just began practicing together this week in Las Vegas. A lack of continuity could be a concern, as it was with the last major international tournament, the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where the Americans lost to France and Serbia and wound up finishing seventh.

“None of us have ever played with each other, we’re just trying to figure it out,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “We don’t have three to four weeks. This is good for us, we’ll learn a lot from the film and we’ll regroup.”

There’s more Olympics-related news this morning:

  • Brown recognizes the significance of Saturday’s win, which was the first ever for an African team against the United States, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The Nigerians, who are aiming for the first Olympic basketball medal in African history, lost to the Americans by 83 points in the 2012 Olympics and by 44 in a 2016 exhibition game. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean much in the standings as far as where we’re trying to get to,” Brown said. “But it’s a good win for us. I don’t think any African team has been able to beat USA Basketball in an exhibition game or a real game. … We’re trying to get a little bit of momentum for Nigeria and for the continent of Africa.”
  • NBA interest has “spiked” in Nigeria’s Caleb Agada, who came off the bench to score 17 points in the upset, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Agada recently had a workout with the Jazz and will play for the Nuggets‘ team in next month’s Summer League.
  • Former NBA forward Luis Scola scored 25 points for Argentina in a loss to Australia Saturday night. At age 41, Scola indicated he may keep playing once the Olympics are over. “I don’t even know if I’m going to retire after the tournament,” he said (Twitter link from Reynolds).

And-Ones: Albert, EuroLeague Imports, Scola, Offseason

The NBA will lose an iconic voice later this year, as Hall of Fame broadcaster Marv Albert is retiring at the conclusion of the NBA’s postseason, as reported by Andrew Marchand and Phil Mushnick of The New York Post. Albert and Turner Sports put out an official announcement today confirming the decision.

Albert, who will turn 80 in June, began calling NBA games in the 1960s and was the longtime voice of the Knicks. He also called the NBA Finals for NBC for many years. This year’s Eastern Conference Finals will be his last series as a broadcaster.

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

  • In the wake of EuroLeague standouts like Luca Vildoza, Gabriel Deck, and Mike James signing late-season NBA contracts, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype explored whether those in-season arrivals from Europe’s top league could become a trend going forward or whether they’re just a byproduct of the NBA’s unusual 2020/21 schedule.
  • There’s a growing expectation that longtime NBA forward Luis Scola will officially retire as a player after he represents Argentina in this year’s Olympics, per a report from La Prealpina in Italy (hat tip to Sportando). Scola, who played for Varese in Italy in 2020/21, could end up returning to the club in a management role.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks breaks down the key dates and deadlines to watch during the coming NBA offseason.

And-Ones: Poirier, Scola, Middleton, Mobley

Former Sixers center Vincent Poirier has agreed to a multiyear contract with Real Madrid, writes Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The news was first reported by Jose Luis Sanchez (Twitter link).

Poirier, 27, played 10 games for Philadelphia after being acquired from the Thunder in a December trade. He saw just 3.9 minutes per game, averaging 0.8 points and 1.4 rebounds, before being traded to the Knicks at the deadline. New York waived him three days later.

The seven-footer was a star in Europe before signing with the Celtics in 2019. He led the EuroLeague in rebounding and was a second-team all-league selection during the 2018/19 season. Poirier won’t be able to join the EuroLeague until next season, Lupo adds, but he is eligible for Liga ACB.

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

  • NBA veteran Luis Scola will make a decision on retirement after his season ends with Varese in Italy, relays Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. Scola, who will turn 41 at the end of April, discussed his future with La Prealpina, an Italian newspaper. “I am happy here in Varese,” he said. “I will decide my future as soon as the season is over. My decision will be quick out of respect for the team and the club.” Scola indicated in November that he was planning to retire after the Olympics.
  • Bucks guard Khris Middleton is about to become a minority owner of the Brisbane Bullets in the National Basketball League, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Bulls forward Thaddeus Young is also part of the Australian team’s ownership (Twitter link), with former NBA guard Kevin Martin serving as majority owner. Several other players with NBA connections have stakes in NBL franchises, Stein adds (via Twitter). Rockets guards John Wall and Dante Exum are part owners of the South East Melbourne Phoenix, along with Zach Randolph, Al Harrington and Josh Childress. The New Zealand Breakers’ ownership is led by former Heat player Matt Walsh and includes Victor Oladipo and Shawn Marion.
  • A strong performance in the NCAA tournament moves USC big man Evan Mobley up to second in the latest mock draft by Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Woo suggests that Mobley’s defensive impact should make him be considered a “1B” pick to Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham‘s “1A.” Woo adds that some teams may prefer Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs with the top pick, depending on need.

Luis Scola Intends To Retire After 2021 Olympics In Tokyo

Former NBA big man Luis Scola has reiterated his intention to retire from basketball after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, according to Sportweek (via Sportando).

“When will it end? In a year, after the Olympics. Only then I will decide what to do,” Scola said. “I could stay involved in basketball, but not as a coach: eventually, only for young players. I’m already receiving plenty of proposals, but no one of those has been just as exciting as the idea of playing.”

Scola, 40, has not suited up for an NBA team since the 2016/17 campaign but has nonetheless remained active overseas. Last season, Scola played for Olimpia Milano. The Argentinian averaged 11.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 15 Italian League games and 9.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 28 EuroLeague contests.

Across 743 regular season NBA games, Scola averaged 12.0 PPG and 6.7 RPG for the Rockets, Suns, Pacers, Raptors and Nets. In his prime with Houston, Scola was a durable player and an efficient scorer, averaging a career-best 18.3 PPG during the 2010/11 season.

Scola indicated earlier this year that he was weighing retirement but still wanted to represent Argentina on the worldwide stage. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Olympics to move to 2021, which could mark the end of Scola’s career. However, he will look to add another medal to his mantle to join his gold and bronze medals from the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

And-Ones: Luxury Tax, Thomas, Scola, Top Defenders

The Trail Blazers have the highest luxury tax bill at $5.9MM, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Team salaries are now frozen after the one-week transactions period that closed late Tuesday. The Heat ($2.9MM), Thunder ($2.5MM) and Timberwolves ($582K) are also over the luxury tax line but the projected $11.9MM total is the lowest since the luxury tax was introduced in 2002/03, Marks notes.

We have more from around the basketball world:

International Notes: Mirotic, Scola, M. Gasol, Rudez

Former NBA forward Nikola Mirotic has been named MVP of Liga ACB, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. It’s the second European MVP award for the 29-year-old, who is preparing for a semifinal playoff game tomorrow with his FC Barcelona team.

Mirotic made a surprising decision to return to Europe last summer after five NBA seasons. He was projected to land a contract somewhere in the range of $45MM over three years if he had remained in the NBA, and Johnson reports that he had an offer in place from the Jazz. Mirotic spent most of his career with the Bulls, and split last season between the Pelicans and Bucks.

“You can see it in my face, in my smile. It was a good surprise, it brightened my day,” he said in an interview with Eurohoops.net about winning the award. “The MVP award for me means a collective work of the team. This award goes to all my teammates who have helped me to be better every day. Each game has helped me to feel good. And of course to the coaching staff who have managed to put me in the best position that I feel effective. And also for all those who support us, the fans.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Luis Scola, who left Olympia Milano earlier this month, will remain in Italy and sign with Varese, a source tells Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The 40-year-old forward hopes to play one more season before ending his career with the Olympics next summer.
  • Raptors center Marc Gasol announced Friday that the club he owns in Spain, Girona Basket, will create the country’s first 3×3 professional team, according to Michael Houston of insidethegame.biz. Growing in popularity around the world, 3×3 basketball will make its Olympics debut next year in Tokyo.
  • Former Pacers, Timberwolves and Magic forward Damjan Rudez signed a two-year deal with Donar in the Netherlands, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Luis Scola Leaves Olimpia Milano, Weighing Future

Former NBA big man Luis Scola, who spent the 2019/20 season playing for Olimpia Milano, announced on Thursday that he won’t be returning to the Italian club – or any other EuroLeague team – for the ’20/21 campaign. Scola added in a statement that he’ll decide within the next few weeks whether or not to continue his playing career.

“I have chosen not to play in the EuroLeague anymore, neither in Milan nor with another team,” Scola said. “I want to thank Olimpia for giving me this opportunity, it was a fun year in which I experienced a good environment where I felt right at home.

“On the other hand, I have not decided whether to retire from basketball for good or keep playing in another competition. I’ll make a final decision during the next few weeks.”

Scola, who appeared in 743 regular season NBA games during 10 years in the league, hasn’t suited up for an NBA team since the 2016/17 season, when he played for Brooklyn. However, he showed this season in Italy that he still has something left in the tank.

The 40-year-old averaged 11.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG with a .571/.560/.642 shooting line in 15 Italian League games (18.9 MPG), contributing 9.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG on .454/.353/.655 shooting in 28 EuroLeague contests (19.2 MPG).

Even if Scola decides not to play in a professional league in 2020/21, he presumably has one more competition circled on his calendar before he officially hangs up his sneakers. As a result of their second-place finish at last year’s World Cup, Argentina has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed until July 2021. Scola – who won gold and bronze medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics – likely plans on representing his country one last time on that international stage.

And-Ones: Scola, Aldridge, 2020 Draft, Delgado

Luis Scola, who continues to play overseas with Italy’s Olimpia Milano, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2016/17 season and the 39-year-old sounds pretty confident that a comeback isn’t happening. As he explains to Marc Stein of The New York Times, even the younger version of himself would have a hard time keeping up in today’s version of the NBA, with its faster pace and lack of low-post play.

“The good teams, they have better players. The bad teams, they have younger players. I just don’t think I am at that level anymore,” Scola said. “I was there at some point. But the game changed also. It would be more difficult for me to play, even at my prime, in today’s NBA.”

“I got a little bit lucky,” he continued. “The big change happened right at the end of my career, and I was able to play until I was 37. The low-post game is not there anymore. The long two are not there. I would adjust a little bit and be a different player, but I think this would be a little bit more difficult. The game is faster. The players move faster. They’re more athletic, longer. And I’m not a very good athlete. Those things would be against me in today’s NBA.”

While Scola recognizes a return to the NBA isn’t in the cards, he’s pleased about Argentina’s performance at this year’s World Cup, which secured the team a spot in the 2020 Olympics. Participating in those Olympics had been a major goal for Scola, which is one reason he has pushed to continue his professional career, as he tells Stein.

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

  • Frank Urbina and Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype spoke to NBA executives to try to gauge what LaMarcus Aldridge‘s trade value might be if the Spurs decide to become sellers. Various execs identified the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Suns, and Kings as possible fits.
  • The general feeling among NBA teams about the top of the 2020 draft class remains “lukewarm,” according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who explores how LaMelo’s stellar NBL play is becoming harder to ignore as teams consider next spring’s top prospects.
  • Former Seton Hall standout and Clippers two-way player Angel Delgado has signed Israeli team Hapoel Holon, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Delgado, who appeared in two games for the Clips last season, spent time with the Beijing Royal Fighters earlier this year before being replaced by former NBA big man Jason Thompson.
  • Mike Conley is looking for the same kind of experience with the Jazz that his longtime Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol had last season in Toronto, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Conley said he called Gasol on FaceTime shortly after the Raptors won the 2019 title. “Man, I watched every game and was rooting and hoping and praying,” Conley said. “… We were talking about that thing all our career, having an experience like that for himself is, just happy for him.”

And-Ones: Maker, Wade, CBA, Thompson, Robinson

Makur Maker, ranked No. 10 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony in the 2020 high school class, is exploring his eligibility for next June’s draft, according to Givony. The NBA Players Association is assisting Makur and believes he’ll be declared eligible due to the fact he’ll turn 19 in November, Givony adds. He’s also in his fifth year of high school at Pacific Academy in Irvine, California, as the 6’11’ Maker was two credits short of receiving a high school diploma from his previous school. He’s the cousin of Pistons big man Thon Maker.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Italy’s Olimpia Milano was interested in signing Dwyane Wade, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Team president Leo Dell’Orco revealed that the franchise considered making a run at the retired NBA star before settling on another former NBA veteran, Luis Scola. “This summer we wanted to sign an important NBA player,” he said. “We were interested in Dwyane Wade but we took some time (and chose Scola).”
  • The Chinese Basketball Association has increased its restrictions on foreign players, Carchia relays in a separate story. Among the changes is a rule that only two foreign players can be on the roster for each game and they can’t be on the court at the same time. The CBA has also imposed a salary cap but it only applies to Chinese players, according to another note from Carchia.
  • Former NBA forward Jason Thompson is returning to the Chinese league and will replace Angel Delgado on the Beijing Royal Fighters, according to a Sportando report. Thompson spent last season with Fenerbahce D Istanbul. In 36 games with Fenerbahce, Thompson averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 16.0 MPG. Thompson played in China during the 2016/17 season after averaging 8.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 588 career NBA games. Delgado had to leave China for personal matters.
  • Another former NBA forward, Thomas Robinson, reached an agreement with the CBA’s Sichuan Blue Whales, Sportando relays.  Robinson spent last season with Beijing, averaging 21.9 PPG and 13.6 RPG. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.

And-Ones: FT Rule, Jeezy, Kobe, Scola, Title Odds

According to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days, there are some concerns regarding the new free throw rule implemented in the G League for the 2019/20 season.

One concern is whether the decrease in rest time (which would occur during second or third free throw attempts) could lead to more injuries. Another is whether coaches will forget to send players in for substitutions before the first (and only) free throw.

One G League front office employee is also concerned that the game flow would impact assignment players – their free throw attempts, as well as their in-game rhythm – as they adjust back and forth between the G League and the NBA.

“For us, we want the G League game to model the NBA as closely as possible… I understand what the league is trying to do but there are other options to consider before this one.”

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

  • Rapper Jeezy is launching his own sports agency called “Sports 99” and will begin representing NBA and NFL players, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
  • Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic explore some details about the select group of players that participated in the Mamba Sports Pro Invitational, hosted by Kobe Bryant, at the end of August.
  • Veteran forward Luis Scola has signed a deal with EuroLeague’s Olimpia Milano, head coach Ettore Messina announced, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.
  • Adam Zagoria of Forbes notes that the LakersClippers, and Bucks are early favorites to win the 2020 NBA Championship.