Franz Wagner

World Cup Notes: F. Wagner, Schröder, Top Players, Banchi

Germany’s Franz Wagner was thrilled not only to win a gold medal at the World Cup, but to be able to accomplish the feat while playing alongside his brother, writes Cesare Milanti of EuroHoops. Franz and Moritz Wagner are also teammates on the Magic, but their undefeated run through the World Cup field is the highlight of their careers.

“It’s special,” Franz Wagner said after Sunday’s win over Serbia. “Special to have our parents here too. This is so surreal, it doesn’t make sense that we are both on this team and we can enjoy it.”

Wagner appears to be fully recovered from a sprained ankle he suffered in Germany’s opening game. Although he missed the rest of pool play, he was back for the knockout round, scoring 22 points and grabbing five rebounds in a semifinal win over Team USA, then posting 19 points and seven rebounds in the gold medal contest.

“There were so many moments this year in so many games that the other team made a run, this game, the game before against the States,” he added. “We never let it slip, we just kept playing and kept staying together. That made a huge difference in all these games.”

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • Tournament MVP Dennis Schröder hopes Germany’s success will lead to more exposure for basketball in his home country, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. The German team has become more successful in international competitions, but the games aren’t widely available to the public. “We first thought the tournament was going to be on the TV. Only the final was on the TV,” Schröder said. “Basketball is a great sport and I hope we can get our respect for what we are doing the last two years. I wish that every single game is on TV. Ten years ago when I started, we had Dirk Nowitzki but nobody knew who were the other guys on the team. Now we go to Japan and the Philippines and they know us. We hope to get this respect also in our country and get recognized.”
  • Schröder was a first-team selection by Brian Windhorst of ESPN on his list of the best players at the World Cup. Joining him on the first team are Team USA’s Anthony Edwards, Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Slovenina’s Luka Doncic and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic. Making up Windhorst’s second team are the USA’s Mikal Bridges, Australia’s Josh Giddey, South Sudan’s Carlik Jones, Serbia’s Nikola Milutinov and the Dominican Republic’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
  • Luca Banchi was honored as the tournament’s best coach after leading Latvia to a fifth-place finish in its first-ever World Cup.

Germany Wins Gold Medal, USA Fourth At World Cup

Germany wrapped up an undefeated World Cup by topping Serbia, 83-77, in Sunday’s gold medal game. Team USA, which had been favored to win the gold, left without a medal after falling to Canada in an overtime thriller in the bronze medal contest.

Dennis Schröder led the Germans with 28 points in the finals and Franz Wagner added 19. Germany was able to take down all challengers in the tournament despite playing much of it without Wagner, who suffered a sprained ankle in the opener against Japan.

Schröder was named World Cup MVP (Twitter link) and was joined on the All-Star 5 by Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, USA’s Anthony Edwards, Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic (Twitter link).

Canada’s victory was noteworthy as it marked the nation’s first-ever medal in World Cup competition and only its second win against the U.S. in a senior men’s tournament. The Canadians were led by 31 points and 12 assists from Gilgeous-Alexander and 39 points from Dillon Brooks, who continues to rebuild his reputation following a playoff embarrassment and an unpleasant separation with the Grizzlies in free agency.

“It was so enjoyable. Obviously the hate doesn’t stop, it keeps going,” Brooks told reporters, including Brian Windhorst of ESPN. “It’s hard to battle against the world and a team.”

Before earning their medals, the Canadians had to survive a miracle finish from Team USA that sent the game to overtime. Trailing by four points with 4.2 seconds remaining, Mikal Bridges hit his first free throw and purposely missed the second before chasing down the rebound in the right corner and hitting a spinning three-pointer with 0.6 left on the clock. Bridges, who scored 19 points and battled Gilgeous-Alexander on defense, may be one of the members of the World Cup roster with a strong chance of returning for the Olympics.

However, Canada controlled play in the overtime to capture a 127-118 victory that sent the U.S. home without a medal for the second straight World Cup. The Americans dropped three of their last four games as defense and rebounding became persistent issues.

“We just didn’t defend well enough against Germany (in the semifinals) or against Canada, and that’s the bottom line,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Every year when you try to build a team, you try to build the best two-way team you can and be able to get stops and score, and everybody’s trying to do that.”

Windhorst points out that the Americans have now lost seven combined games over their last three major tournaments, creating a wide open race for the gold at the Paris Olympics next summer. The U.S. may have to reconsider the type of players it wants to invite, although Kerr said USA Basketball officials felt good about the World Cup roster they put together.

“We’ve really studied everything about FIBA and the history of United States basketball when we’ve won, what has been the reason and when we’ve lost what has been the reason,” Kerr said. “So we study all that stuff, and what it comes down to for us in this tournament, we put ourselves in a great position. We got to the semifinals and were right there.”

World Cup Notes: USA, Edwards, Germany, Canada

Head coach Steve Kerr once again stressed the high level of international competition following Team USA’s upset loss to Germany, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.

This is not 1992 anymore,” Kerr said. “Players are better all over the world. Teams are better. It’s not easy to win World Cup or Olympic games.”

Kerr also gave the Germans credit.

Congrats to Germany, they were fantastic,” he added. “Every time we made a run, they got a great shot, an offensive rebound, a big play. I am proud of my guys, they fought and gave us a chance in the end, but we couldn’t exactly get it.”

Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards said the team lacked toughness in the semifinal loss, but he refused to use lack of size as an excuse, relays George Efkarpidis of Eurohoops.

We got out-rebounded all night. … They were more physical than us,”  Edwards said.

Here’s more from the 2023 World Cup, which concludes Sunday:

  • German head coach Gordon Herbert got a three-year commitment from his roster, which is filled with experienced veterans. The group’s continuity showed in the victory, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. “I think that helped us immensely,” Magic forward Franz Wagner said. “From the first day we got together this summer, we believed that we’re a special group and we can win against any team.”
  • Could the three-year blueprint be something the Americans emulate going forward? As Fischer notes, former USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski got three-year commitments from players when he took over in 2005. “I’m not sure how you would do that,” Kerr said. “If you wanna ask the same 10 guys to play every summer, I think that’s very unrealistic. Part of the deal with USAB is you pass the baton to the next coaching staff, the next group of players. It’s different than most countries. But we’re unique in that we have a deep talent pool and a lot of very worthy players. And I think those players and coaches all deserve to have the honor of wearing that USA jersey.”
  • Despite dropping its semifinal to Serbia, which will face Germany for a chance at gold, the Canadian national team is still determined to defeat the U.S. and claim the bronze medal, according to Barkas of Eurohoops. “It’s very important for the country, the players, the program,” head coach Jordi Fernandez said. “We are very emotional right now, but getting a medal will be very important for us and we know we can still get better. We want to leave this tournament hungry and thirsty for more.”

World Cup Notes: SGA, Brooks, Doncic, F. Wagner

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has separated himself from the field in the race for World Cup MVP, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. The Thunder guard had 31 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday against Slovenia and has been outstanding while leading Canada to its first semifinals appearance in tournament history.

Among those impressed by SGA’s exploits is Canadian star Steve Nash, who served as general manager of the national team and had him on the roster for an Olympic qualifying tournament in 2016. Although Gilgeous-Alexander was just a teenager at the time and barely played, Nash could tell he had the potential to become something special.

“I mean, he’s got it, right?” Nash said. “He has the game, the feel, the understanding of his responsibility in the moment. It’s just a beautiful thing when you have a player like that in your arsenal.”

There’s more on the World Cup:

  • Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez credited Dillon Brooks for his strong defensive effort against Luka Doncic in the win over Slovenia, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. The Slovenians were upset by some of Brooks’ tactics before both players were ejected in the fourth quarter, but Fernandez doesn’t mind if Brooks takes the same approach in the semifinals against Serbia. “If they complain, they complain,” he said. “We have to play our game and we have to keep our composure, so we can control what we can control. I think yesterday we did a great job as a team defensively and especially Dillon put on a defensive clinic and it should be in a FIBA museum at some point.”
  • Doncic was upset at not getting more foul calls and made a money-sign gesture toward FIBA officials during the game, but he and Slovenia remain on good terms with the organization, Barkas adds in a separate story. Doncic downplayed the incident in a post-game press conference, according to Barkas, and Slovenian Federation president Matej Erjavec sat with FIBA secretary general Andreas Zaglis for Thursday’s contest against Lithuania.
  • Franz Wagner is confident that German teammate Dennis Schröder will bounce back in Friday’s semifinal meeting with Team USA after shooting 4-of-26 from the field against Latvia, relays George Efkarpidis of Eurohoops. Wagner also discussed the ankle injury that sidelined him for much of the tournament before he returned for the quarterfinals. “We tried to do as much rehab, icing, all that stuff as much as possible, and I think we did a really good job,” Wagner said. “And then the last week or so, I started working out on the court and was able to do a little bit more. I did a bunch of conditioning stuff, too, just so I can play again.”

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: Towns, F. Wagner, Canada, Ingram

Led by Karl-Anthony Towns, the Dominican Republic is the early surprise team of this year’s World Cup, writes Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. The Timberwolves‘ big man posted 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists Sunday as the Dominican team took down highly ranked Italy, and he told reporters the result shouldn’t be considered a surprise.

“Was this an upset?” Towns asked. “I thought we wanted to win. We had great things in the second half, that’s what brought us the victory. We did a great job as a team, everybody down the line was amazing.”

As the only 2-0 team in Group A and one game left against Angola, the Dominican Republic is in excellent position to move past pool play. Towns may be the most recognizable player, but he’s not the team’s only weapon. Andres Feliz also scored 24 points, including seven three-pointers, while Jean Montero contributed 12 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals.

Italy is now in the unexpected position of having to defeat the host Philippines on Tuesday just to advance.

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • Germany got past Australia without Magic forward Franz Wagner, who sat out the game with a “slight sprained ankle,” per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Wagner is considered day-to-day, but the Germans opted to rest him against their toughest opponent in Group E.
  • Canada enjoyed a record-setting day in its 55-point victory over Lebanon. Its 128 points were the most ever for a Canadian team, and its 43 assists set a record for a World Cup game, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet. Canada was able to rest Thunder wing Luguentz Dort, who is dealing with a minor injury, as nine players scored in double figures, adds Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link).
  • Team USA has a roster filled with talented scorers, so it’s hard for everyone to get the opportunities they’re accustomed to, notes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The most glaring example so far is Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, who was limited to four shots and two points in 15 minutes in the opening game against New Zealand. “This is totally different than what I am used to,” Ingram said. “The team is winning right now, so I can’t be selfish thinking about myself.  But it’s a little frustrating right now for me, and I’m just trying to figure out ways I can be effective.”

World Cup Notes: Banchero, Reaves, F. Wagner, Fernandez

Team USA got an early taste of the physical approach that World Cup opponents are likely to try, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. For all their talent, the Americans only have one true center on their roster and they aren’t as big and strong as many of the teams they’ll face. New Zealand attacked the U.S. frontline from the outset in Saturday’s opener and built a 14-4 lead before the game turned around.

“They came out right away and were very physical and took it to us,” said head coach Steve Kerr said. “We need to feel that, because that’s what these games are going to be like.”

With Jaren Jackson Jr. in foul trouble early in the second half, Kerr turned to Paolo Banchero, a natural forward who’s being asked to play center during the tournament. Banchero wound up leading Team USA with 21 points while blocking four shots, several of which led to fast-break opportunities.

“Being in the World Cup, my role is my role. I kind of have accepted it,” Banchero said. “I just want to do it to the best of my ability. J.J., he’s a great player. I gotta be able to pick up where he left off when he comes out the game.”

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • The fan favorite in the Philippines is Austin Reaves, who benefits from playing for the Lakers, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. L.A. is the nation’s favorite NBA team because of past visits to Manila by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. “I was talking to (Lakers assistant) Phil Handy, and he was telling me that they love the Lakers out here,” said Reaves, who got a huge ovation during pre-game introductions. “So I kind of seen it coming. It’s special for me.”
  • Magic forward Franz Wagner is considered day-to-day after turning his ankle in Germany’s first game, per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Team doctor Oliver Putz provided an update Saturday, telling reporters that the injury doesn’t appear to be serious. “Nothing is broken, torn or anything like this, things that would end the FIBA World Cup for him,” he said. “Franz feels better this morning than yesterday. We did another MRI this morning. But the problem is that we don’t have the imaging yet, so we can’t say exactly what’s hurt yet.”
  • Spain’s Rudy Fernandez set a European record Saturday by playing in his fifth World Cup tournament, notes Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.

Franz Wagner Expected To Undergo MRI On Ankle

Germany got off to a strong start in the 2023 World Cup on Friday, defeating Japan by a score of 81-63. However, the victory was marred to some extent by an injury to Magic forward Franz Wagner, who didn’t finish the game after turning his ankle.

Speaking after the game to reporters, Germany head coach Gordon Herbert said that it “looks like a slight sprained ankle” for Wagner, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).

“We’ll know more after an MRI,” Herbert added, suggesting that Wagner’s ankle will undergo further testing before Germany’s next group-play game on Sunday vs. Australia.

If Wagner has a mild ankle sprain, as Herbert speculated, it shouldn’t have any impact on his availability for the Magic this fall. There are still several weeks until training camp, giving the former eighth overall pick plenty of time to recover.

However, it’s possible the ankle injury will affect Wagner’s availability for the German national team in the next few days. While Friday’s victory over Japan was a good start, Germany is in a tough group and will almost certainly need at least one more win in the first round – over either Australia on Sunday or Finland on Tuesday – to advance to the round of 16. Obviously, the Germans would like to have Wagner on the court for those games, if possible.

Wagner, who will turn 22 on Sunday, averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 32.6 minutes per game across 80 appearances in 2022/23 for the Magic. He’s entering the third year of his rookie scale contract and will become extension-eligible during the 2024 offseason.

Trade Rumors: Wizards, Morris, George, Bridges, Nets, Bulls

Having agreed to acquire point guards Tyus Jones and Chris Paul in separate trades, the Wizards have begun talking to rival teams about Monte Morris, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. According to Fischer, Washington’s front office – which has already been very active this offseason – is telling potential trade partners that the team doesn’t want to take on any long-term money.

It remains to be seen what the Wizards have in mind for Paul. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (YouTube link) said during a TV appearance earlier this week that he doesn’t get the sense that Washington is trying to “bottom out” by going into full tank mode, suggesting he can envision a scenario where Paul is on next season’s roster. However, that was before the team agreed to acquire Jones.

According to Fischer, the Wizards and Suns are tentatively planning for the Bradley Beal trade call to take place on Friday. It’s unclear whether Paul will be flipped to a new team as part of that deal or whether Washington’s three-team trade with Boston and Memphis might be folded into the same transaction.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Andrew Greif and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times provide a little more context on the recent Paul George trade rumors, suggesting that the Knicks initiated talks with the Clippers but are hesitant to pursue the star forward, who may seek an extension when he becomes eligible this offseason. There’s a sense that George’s value might not be as high as the Clippers would like, given his injury history and his contract situation, per The Times’ duo. A previous report indicated he’s unlikely to be dealt.
  • Rising star Mikal Bridges tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post that he has been informed by the Nets that they have no interest in trading him. The team has conveyed that stance both publicly and privately, according to Lewis. “As of right now they’re saying they’re not, but I think just being a good person kind of helps with that, because there’s just like you don’t want to lose a person like that, which is always a good quality to have,” Bridges said. “So, [I feel] just blessed, man; just blessed and very appreciative for that. And that just does show that love, honestly.”
  • In addition to offering four first-round picks for Bridges at the trade deadline, the Grizzlies are also said to have targeted Magic forward Franz Wagner in recent months, Fischer reports. Fischer refers to the team’s decision to surrender a pair of first-rounders for Marcus Smart as a “middle-ground” move after those more ambitious pursuits didn’t pan out.
  • While it doesn’t sound like Bridges will be going anywhere this offseason, the futures of fellow Nets forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale remain uncertain. According to Fischer, Brooklyn is seeking a first-round pick in return for O’Neale and wants a pick and a player for Finney-Smith.
  • It may end up being a quiet draft night for the Bulls, who don’t currently have a pick, but they’re still exploring ways to acquire a first-rounder, reports Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. In other Bulls news, Cowley hears from sources that free-agent-to-be Nikola Vucevic may be willing to give Chicago a “hometown discount” on a new multiyear contract. The big man made $22MM this past season.