Dillon Brooks

World Cup Semifinals Set; Serbia, Germany Qualify For Olympics

Germany completed a comeback win over Latvia on Wednesday to earn a place in the World Cup semifinals, while Canada defeated Slovenia to claim a spot in the final four as well.

The World Cup semifinal games, which will take place on Friday, are as follows:

  • United States vs. Germany
  • Canada vs. Serbia

Although Team USA will enter the semifinal as a heavy favorite, Germany is the only undefeated team left in the tournament, having come out victorious in all six of their games so far.

The Germans, who got Magic forward Franz Wagner back on Wednesday following an ankle injury, recovered from an early deficit and overcame an off day from guard Dennis Schröder, who made just four of his 26 shot attempts from the floor. The rest of the team shot 54.5% (24-of-44), with Wagner contributing a team-high 16 points to overcome Davis Bertans (20 points) and the Latvians by a score of 81-79.

The Canadians, meanwhile, pulled away from Luka Doncic and the Slovenians in a strong third quarter and won 100-89, earning their first-ever berth in a World Cup semifinal.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31 points on 8-of-12 shooting) and RJ Barrett (24 points on 9-of-22 shooting) scored more than half of Canada’s points, while Dillon Brooks (14 points on 5-of-7 shooting) chipped in and played tough defense on Doncic, who scored 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting. Both Doncic and Brooks were ejected during a chippy fourth quarter.

While Latvia and Slovenia will join Lithuania and Italy in the classification games to determine the fifth-through-eight seeds, Germany and Serbia have assured themselves of spots in the 2024 Olympics by finishing as the top two European teams in the World Cup, regardless of the semifinal outcomes.

The eight teams that have qualified for the Paris Olympics so far are the United States, Canada, Germany, Serbia, France, Australia, Japan, and South Sudan. The remaining four spots will be claimed next summer in a series of qualifying tournaments.

World Cup Notes: Brooks, Motiejunas, F. Wagner, Naturalized Players

After a difficult season with the Grizzlies, Dillon Brooks feels rejuvenated by his World Cup experience, writes Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops. Brooks has moved past the acrimonious ending of his time in Memphis and is enjoying a summer that has included an $86MM contract with the Rockets and a chance to lead Canada to new heights in international competition.

Brooks had 22 points and five rebounds while playing his usual disruptive defense in Sunday’s win over Spain, moving Canada into the quarterfinal round and wrapping up a spot in the Olympics. The Canadians trailed by 12 points entering the fourth quarter, but Brooks hit three three-pointers during a rally in the must-win game.

“Coming off a tough year with my old squad, it was great having a refresh with Canadian blood,” Brooks said. “Guys who believe in me. Guys who trust in me.”

Reaching the Olympics is a life-long dream for Canadian teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, whose mother, Charmaine Gilgeous, competed for Antigua and Barbuda in the 400 meters during the 1992 games, Stroggylakis adds.

“In my whole life I knew what’s like going to the Olympics because of that,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “And I know the best athletes are there.”

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • Former NBA big man Donatas Motiejunas tells Aris Barkis of Eurohoops that beating Team USA on Sunday compares to Lithuania’s last victory over the Americans in the 2004 Olympics. “I was a kid at that time, I was 14 years old so I remember watching the game and it was something spectacular,” he said. “Like I said from the first day we are here to bring joy to our people, to our basketball and I know how crazy it’s right now in Lithuania. And I really loved that we, as a team, can bring this joy to our people.”
  • Germany reached the quarterfinals without Magic forward Franz Wagner, who suffered a sprained ankle in the opening game, and it appears his status for Wednesday’s contest against Latvia won’t be decided until shortly before game time, per Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Wagner is considered day to day, but he hasn’t been active since the injury. “He had no team practice yet. We’re gonna have to see what his situation is tomorrow, and the medical staff will make a decision on Wednesday,” Germany head coach Gordon Herbert told reporters. “We go day by day; we have to see how his ankle feels in the morning, see if he’s able tomorrow or not, and we go from there. It’s a process. He wants to play, but he’s pretty frustrated and disappointed he can’t play.”
  • Along with Mavericks star Luka Doncic, one of Slovenia’s most important players has been center Mike Tobey, who obtained a passport in advance of the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament, Milanti adds in another piece. Tobey believes naturalized players will have an increased impact in international basketball. “I understand both sides of the rule,” he said. “For me, I think it helps make teams competitive. I’m sure in the future the national teams will do it more because sometimes teams are really just a piece away. Slovenia shows it’s just adding one person in the position they don’t have as many big guys in this generation. I think it can make a big difference, and help small countries compete.” 

World Cup Notes: Team USA, Kessler, SGA, Brooks

Following Lithuania’s upset of Team USA, Bucks forward Bobby Portis said the team needs to have a short memory as it prepares to play Italy in the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“One thing I learned about sports, nobody gonna feel sorry for you,” Portis said to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports and other media members. “Nobody gonna pat you on your back and sleep with you at night and say, ‘Hey man, it’s gonna be OK.’ Move on, get ready for the next opponent.”

The upset was fueled by Lithuania’s inside power and dominance of the boards. Lithuania out-rebounded Team USA 43-27 and had a 17-2 edge in second-chance points.

“They out-rebounded us, for sure,” Portis said. “I don’t have to look at that stat. I think that was kinda obvious.”

We have more from the World Cup:

  • Another thing Team USA needs is to get off to better starts, Fischer notes in the same story. The U.S. trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half. “We were on our heels that whole first half,” coach Steve Kerr said. “They were carving us up, and we definitely had some miscommunications.”
  • Jazz second-year big man Walker Kessler hasn’t seen much action for Team USA, though that could change, given its rebounding issues. Kessler is averaging 3.6 points and 6.1 minutes per game but he’s just happy to be on the roster, Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune relays. “I think that our team, all 12 of us are just unbelievably talented players,” he said. “All the guys are great guys. Regardless of who’s playing, we all cheer for each other. We all support each other. It just goes to show how deep we are. Anybody could have a good night on this team, and it’s a lot of fun to be part of.”
  • Canada clinched a spot in the Paris Olympics with its 88-85 win over Spain on Sunday. The victory was fueled by the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Rockets’ Dillon Brooks, Eric Koreen of The Athletic notes. Gilgeous-Alexander had 30 points, seven assists and three steals. Brooks supplied 22 points and was also a defensive nuisance. “It’s something that’s almost indescribable,” SGA told Sportsnet in regards to Canada clinching an Olympic appearance for the first time since 2000.

Western Notes: Kings, Brooks, Jones, Lillard, Timberwolves

The Kings decided to tweak the roster rather than make major changes this offseason after finally reaching the postseason in the spring. They acquired Chris Duarte in a trade and re-signed Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles. They also signed EuroLeague star Sasha Vezenkov.

Kings coach Mike Brown is excited to have his core group back and is eager to see how they respond to the newfound respect they’ve gained after snapping the franchise’s long playoff drought.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can handle the pressure,” the Kings coach said. “It’s flipped now. We’re no longer hunting people; people are hunting us. And there are expectations, so how do we handle that? I believe our guys are ready for it, and with the fans that we have here and the juice they brought last year – let’s go. Let’s get it. I’m excited for Sasha, I’m excited for Chris Duarte, I’m excited about our young guys. It’s good to have the new guys, but I’m more excited about having our guys to be able to run it back and give them the opportunity to grow as a nucleus than anything else.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Grizzlies allowed Dillon Brooks in free agency and traded Tyus Jones. So what have they lost? Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal explores that topic. The Grizzlies have become known for their flashy style and trash talking and Brooks was a major reason for that. Jones was a locker room leader and led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio in each of his four seasons with the club.
  • Trail Blazers fans want the Damian Lillard saga to be resolved soon. In a poll conducted by Jason Quick of The Athletic, 80.4% want the front office to take the best offer for their longtime All-Star and prioritize the team ahead of Lillard. However, the high-scoring guard was voted as the franchise’s greatest player (51.9%), ahead of Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton.
  • Anthony Edwards (United States), Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic), Rudy Gobert (France), Kyle Anderson (China), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Canada) and draft-and-stash prospect Matteo Spagnolo (Italy) are participating in the World Cup, while Luka Garza played for Bosnia and Herzegovina in a pre-qualifying Olympic tournament. That should give those Timberwolves players a head start to the NBA season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Alexander-Walker agrees with the notion. “I want to use it to propel me for the season,” he said.

World Cup Notes: Canada, Fournier, USA, Mills, Towns

The Canadian national team hasn’t had a ton of success in international competition in recent years and is missing top players like Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins at this year’s World Cup. However, Team Canada looked formidable its first group-play game on Friday, outscoring a talented French club by 27 points in the second half en route to a 95-65 win.

“We got our ass kicked,” French wing Evan Fournier told reporters after the game, per Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops. “… They were really physical with us. Taking us out of our set plays. And as a team I think they kind of forced us to do things that we don’t want to do.”

The Canadians leaned heavily on their NBA talent in the victory, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Luguentz Dort, Dwight Powell, Kelly Olynyk, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker all playing at least 20 minutes. Melvin Ejim was the only other player to log more than five minutes in the game.

Gilgeous-Alexander was the standout, racking up 27 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in just 27 minutes of action. Powell (+35 in 23 minutes) and Brooks (+33 in 26 minutes) anchored Canada’s aggressive defense.

Canada will face Lebanon on Sunday, while France will look to bounce back against Latvia.

Here’s more on the World Cup:

  • In an Insider-only story, Jonathan Givony and Kevin Pelton of ESPN pick their 15 most interesting players at the World Cup, including reigning NCAA national player of the year Zach Edey (Canada), projected 2024 first-rounder Juan Nunez (Spain) and Fournier (France), who scored a team-high 21 points on Friday after spending most of last season glued to the Knicks‘ bench. A strong World Cup could help earn Fournier a new NBA opportunity via trade or buyout, Pelton notes.
  • Team USA entered Friday as the strong frontrunners to win the 2023 World Cup, but head coach Steve Kerr knows the team can’t afford to get overconfident, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. “Last time through this tournament, we finished seventh, we lost (two) games,” Kerr said. “We recognize how hard this is. These are not the days of 1992. … We may be one of the favorites, but I don’t think anybody’s clear cut. I think there’s a lot of teams that have a shot at this thing.”
  • Following an eventful offseason that saw him traded from Brooklyn to Houston to Oklahoma City to Atlanta, veteran guard Patty Mills provided a reminder on Friday of what he can bring to a team. The Hawks guard scored a team-high 25 points in Australia’s resounding win over Finland. “No surprises there,” Jack White said of Mills’ performance, per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. “We know he can turn it on; that’s what he does… he’s a hell of a leader and it’s what we expect from him.”
  • Prior to the start of the World Cup, Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns spoke to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic about why he’s playing for the Dominican Republic and what it means to him to represent his mother’s native country. Towns and the Dominican Republic team got off to a strong start on Friday, defeating the host Philippines in a game that set a new World Cup attendance record (38,115), as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press details. Towns scored 26 points in the 87-81 win.

Western Notes: Henderson, Brooks, Jones, Jackson Jr.

The biggest knock against No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson entering the draft was his shooting — he made just 27.5% of his 3-point attempts in the G League. His trainer, Brandon Payne, brushes off criticism regarding Henderson’s shot as he heads into his rookie season with the Trail Blazers.

“Scoot can shoot the ball,” Payne told Mark Medina in a Sportskeeda article. “When he feels one go down the right way, you better watch out because there’s a bunch coming behind him. But like with any young player, there’s going to be ups and downs. He will just have to weather those and work through them.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • LeBron James shook off Dillon Brooks‘ tactics in the playoff series between the Lakers and Grizzlies. James shot 61.1 percent when guarded by Brooks, yet the new Rockets swingman has a different interpretation of how his matchup with LeBron played out, he told Arash Madani in a Sportsnet interview (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). “I feel like I always had him,” Brooks said. “I feel like that series was thrown upon me cause of the words that I say, but I’ve been saying things all year and we won 50 games.”
  • Derrick Jones‘ guaranteed one-year contract with the Mavericks is worth the veteran’s minimum, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Jones will earn approximately $2.71MM on the deal, while Dallas takes on a cap hit of $2.02MM.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has been manning the middle for Team USA this summer and that may be his future spot with the Grizzlies, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Veteran center Steven Adams is signed through the 2024/25 season but Jackson could be his eventual replacement.

And-Ones: Dort, Brooks, Trade Deadline, Allen, Wade, Riley

While the focus in this country is on Team USA’s preparation for the FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is also filled with NBA players. It’s looking at the combination of the Thunder‘s Luguentz Dort and the Rockets’ Dillon Brooks to spearhead their defense, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

“We keep our own secrets, as good defenders. … I kind of know what he does, and he kind of knows what I do at the same time,” Dort said. “I’m ready to go to work with him, and it’s going to be tough to go against good defenders like us.”

Brooks said he admires Dort’s approach. “I’ve kind of watched him become a defensive stopper,” Brooks said. “Guys don’t want to deal with that physicality all night.”

Canada plays its tournament opener against France on Aug. 25.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The start of the regular season will be Oct. 24, a week later than usual. However, the trade deadline won’t be pushed back a week, Fred Katz of The Athletic notes in a Twitter thread. The trade deadline remains the second Thursday of February, which falls on the 8th. It’s significant for the Knicks and Josh Hart if those parties reach an extension agreement. A player is not trade-eligible until six months after he signs an extension, so if Hart gets one, he can’t be dealt during the upcoming season.
  • Longtime NBA player Tony Allen has been sentenced for his role in a $5MM benefits scam, New York court reporter Pete Brush tweets. Allen, who paid back most of the $420K he illegally took before being charged, avoided prison and was sentenced to community service and supervision. Allen expressed remorse for his illegal activities. “I fully acknowledge my individual responsibility and I understand the gravity of my actions,” he said. “As a member of the NBA community I failed to uphold our core values.”
  • Dwyane Wade will become the first player drafted by the Heat to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Team president Pat Riley expressed regret that Wade didn’t spend his entire career with the organization, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reports. After playing for Miami for 13 seasons, he had stops in Chicago and Cleveland before returning to the Heat “I was sad to see him go, I was upset that he went,” Riley said about Wade signing with the Bulls. “I knew we could work something out, but we didn’t. We did not work it out the way that he wanted it to be worked out and that’s our fault. I think probably as much as myself and Micky [Arison] and anybody else with the Heat, I think Dwyane went to Chicago and then he went to Cleveland, I think he wanted back as much as any of us wanted him back.” The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Saturday.

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Doncic, Bane, Mamukelashvili

Rockets wing Dillon Brooks recently discussed his offseason and playing for Team Canada in a conversation with Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Houston gave Brooks a four-year, $86MM+ deal as part of a complex five-team sign-and-trade.

I’ve been chilling. I’ve working out, making sure I get my body right, keep my body right the whole time so I don’t have no drop off,” Brooks told Grange. “And then just focusing mostly on myself, staying off social media, working on my game, doing what I have to do.”

As Grange writes, Brooks has been a longtime member of the Canadian national team. The 27-year-old is looking forward to competing with his compatriots this month.

Everyone that’s in the building, you came across when you were younger, grew up with or played against or with when you played up (an age group),” said Brooks. “It’s a family environment and everybody is here to win, get better and do something special for the country.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic banged knees with an opponent in an exhibition game with Team Slovenia, but the Mavs have “no concerns” about the injury, a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). As with Brooks, Doncic is suiting up for his home country for the upcoming World Cup, which will take place in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. He exited the loss against Greece as a precaution.
  • Grizzlies guard/forward Desmond Bane, who underwent toe surgery in May, says he hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5 work yet, but he expects to be a full go for training camp next month, tweets Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian. “I’m not quite cleared to play contact yet, but as far as working out on the court, I feel like my body is in a pretty good spot,” Bane said, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Bane signed a massive rookie scale extension this summer that will go into effect in 2024/25.
  • Sandro Mamukelashvili re-signed with the Spurs on a guaranteed one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, but he confirmed he received interest from EuroLeague teams in free agency, according to Pijus Sapetka of BasketNews.com. “Definitely, I had multiple EuroLeague teams [interested in me], but I want to stay in the NBA,” the Georgian big man told BasketNews. “I want to show everybody that right now, I am an NBA player. European doors are never closed, and I love watching EuroLeague. I know how good the competition is. … Right now, my head is straight to the NBA to show everybody that I can be an NBA player and that I belong to this league.”

Southwest Notes: Eason, Doncic, Hardaway, K. Johnson

Rockets‘ free agent addition Dillon Brooks recently said he’s looking forward to teaming up with Tari Eason, and Eason tells Kelly Iko of The Athletic that the feeling is mutual. Eason gained a reputation as a tough, aggressive defender during his rookie season, and he wants to build on that with help from Brooks.

“He’s one of the best defenders around and I can learn so many things from him,” Eason said. “There are so many other things to defense besides just guarding your man. There are so many things I can get better at in defense. Just being able to be paired with him and his skill, his approach and how he sees things from a defensive standpoint. I’ll be able to pick his brain, learn and become a better defender.”

Eason quickly earned a rotation spot last season as a rookie on one of the worst teams in the league. Houston is expecting to be much better after signing Brooks and three other veteran free agents, and new coach Ime Udoka has emphasized to Eason that defense will be important for him to keep getting regular minutes.

“Just be vocal. Be in the right spots, things like that,” Eason said of Udoka’s message. “As far as my defensive approach, they want me to be locked in. We have an older team now so for me to be on the floor, I have to be one of the best defenders on the floor at all times. So just really being homed in on defense, that’s the biggest thing. Being able to knock down a consistent shot and play defense.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks likely have two more seasons to show Luka Doncic that they can build a contender around him before they have to worry about him leaving, Tim Cato of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Doncic can opt out of his current deal in 2026, and although Cato is skeptical that the Slovenian star would ask for a trade before then, he acknowledges that the organization is operating under a “Doomsday Clock.” Cato also points out that Dallas has amassed a wealth of young talent, draft assets and tradable contracts to bid for the next big star that becomes available.
  • Cato believes it’s probably a coin flip on whether the Mavericks will trade Tim Hardaway Jr. before training camp, but he says it should become more likely as the season wears on. He points out that the acquisition of Seth Curry makes Hardaway more expendable, and the team needs to find minutes for second-year guard Jaden Hardy.
  • Keldon Johnson has established himself as a starter with the Spurs, but the addition of No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama may push him into a sixth-man role, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I just want to win,” Johnson said. “Whatever I got to do to win, I am looking forward to that, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Southwest Notes: Nowell, Mavs, Christopher, Rockets

The Mavericks are reportedly eyeing former Timberwolves shooting Jaylen Nowell, Darren Wolfson of SKOR North suggests on a new episode of his podcast The Scoop.

“No, he’s not coming back to the Wolves,” Wolfson said. “There’s a mutual understanding that, ‘Hey, time for Jaylen to move on.’ But here’s a new team in on Jaylen Nowell: the Dallas Mavericks. They need to create some roster flexibility, they are looking into doing some stuff is the word and it may not come to fruition. But Jaylen Nowell is on Dallas’ radar. The Nowell camp is still also awaiting finality on the Damian Lillard situation.”

The 6’4″ Nowell, now an unrestricted free agent, had been with Minnesota since being selected in the second round of the 2019 draft out of Washington. He enjoyed his most prolific season yet in 2022/23, averaging 10.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.0 APG and 0.6 SPG in 65 contests.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks made some major offseason moves to reconfigure their roster following a disappointing end to the 2022/23 season, but will they be enough in a talented West? In a new reader mailbag, Tim Cato of The Athletic asserts that, while Dallas may not be quite a legitimate contender yet, the team made some solid new veteran and rookie additions while replenishing some future draft equity.
  • New Grizzlies shooting guard Josh Christopher could yet emerge as a helpful rotation piece for Memphis, in part due to a minor shortage at the position, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis acquired the 6’5″ swingman as part of the five-team sign-and-trade that shipped Dillon Brooks to the Rockets — the team still has 17 players on standard guaranteed contracts, so it’s unclear whether or not Christopher will be on the regular season roster.
  • In case you missed it, we took stock of the offseasons of two lowly 2022/23 Southwest clubs, the Rockets and Spurs, and asked you which club they thought would have a better record in 2023/24.