USA Basketball

Pacific Notes: Hurley, Suns, Vezenkov, Kerr

UConn submitted a new contract offer to try to keep Dan Hurley as its head coach, but a source close to the athletic department tells Adam Zagoria of that the school can’t afford to get into a bidding war with the Lakers. Hurley traveled to Los Angeles on Friday to meet with team officials and is expected to consider his options throughout the weekend before reaching a decision. One of those options will be an offer from the university that would reportedly make him the third-highest-paid coach in the NCAA.

“We want to pay him certainly what he’s worth, but there’s a limit to how far we can actually go just because of the political pressures and all of that,” the source told Zagoria. “Even though everybody wants him to stay, and everybody’s behind it, I just think there’s a cap that exists.”

Zagoria points to a USA Today database that lists Bill Self with a $9.6MM annual salary at Kansas, while John Calipari will earn $8MM in the first year of his new contract at Arkansas. Hurley signed a six-year deal worth $32MM after winning his first national title last year, and he earned a $2MM bonus this season on top of his $5MM base salary.

“Obviously, they want to pay him,” Zagoria’s source added. “I just think at some point it’s not going to be Kentucky, it’s not going to be the place where you can just get some stupid number. I think there are just some realities at the school that make that tougher.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns will attempt to fill three needs this summer despite being bound by second apron restrictions, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 said on the Burns and Gambo podcast (hat tip to RealGM). After letting Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant run the offense this season, Phoenix hopes to find a point guard who can play at least 20 minutes per game, according to Gambadoro. The team is also in the market for a young wing player who can provide more athleticism, along with an upgrade on Drew Eubanks at backup center.
  • Conflicting information about Kings forward Sasha Vezenkov makes it hard to tell which parts of the story are legitimate, James Ham states in his latest edition of Kings Beat (subscription required). As we relayed earlier today, a Eurohoops report stated that Vezenkov has asked for a change of scenery and is considering a return to Europe. However, Ham notes that Matteo Andreani of Basketinside claims the Kings told Vezenkov that he’s not in their plans for next season and they’ll try to trade him. Either scenario could lead to a breakup this summer, and Ham states that team officials have been silent about Vezenkov’s future.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr understands the pressure on Team USA to capture an Olympic gold medal this summer, calling it a “win or fail” situation, per Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle. Part of Kerr’s early preparation has been watching past losses to see what went wrong, including a 113-111 defeat against Germany in last year’s FIBA World Cup semifinals. “One of the things we look at is, why has USA Basketball lost games in the past?” Kerr said. “There are some common themes, and the big one really is defense. The games we’ve lost, we just failed to stop the other team. This Germany game is one of them — they carved us up. So we’re going to have to be really good defensively this summer.”

Mavs Notes: Washington, Gafford, THJ, Lively, Kidd, Harrison, Kyrie

Few NBA teams could argue they had a better trade deadline this season than the Mavericks, who fortified their rotation by acquiring P.J. Washington from Charlotte and Daniel Gafford from Washington. Dallas has been on a roll since those two new additions debuted on February 10, going 21-9 during that stretch, including a 16-2 run from March 7 to April 10.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News takes a closer look at how Washington, who grew up rooting for the Mavs, got to achieve a childhood dream by suiting up for his hometown team, while Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News (subscriber link) explores the impact Gafford has had since he arrived in Dallas.

As Sherrington writes, the Mavs are 18-3 in games Gafford has started, as he and Washington have helped turn the team into a genuine threat to make a playoff run. Six weeks ago, just avoiding the play-in and having a competitive first-round series might have been a realistic goal for the club, but now the Mavs looks like they could be the best team in the West besides Denver, Sherrington says.

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Veteran Mavs swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t practice on Friday due to an illness, but he’ll join the team in Los Angeles, per head coach Jason Kidd, and there’s no indication his availability for Sunday’s Game 1 is in jeopardy at this point. (Twitter link via Townsend). Kidd also said that big man Dereck Lively (knee) has looked good this week and is trending toward playing on Sunday.
  • Kidd and Nico Harrison are both in the third season of four-year contracts, according to Townsend, who opines in a Morning News column that the Mavs’ head coach and general manager have done enough this year to warrant contract extensions this offseason. Those decisions will be made by a new-look ownership group led by governor Patrick Dumont.
  • Kyrie Irving would have accepted an invitation to play for Team USA this summer if he had received one, but won’t hold any grudges for not being selected, telling reporters on Thursday that “the deliberation process was a tough one” for USA Basketball, as Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News relays. “I would’ve loved to, but I wish my brothers well and I just didn’t fit in to this team,” Irving said. “… At this point in my career, I think my focus should be on winning the championship and in the summertime, just going to support those guys when I get a chance.”

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Embiid, DiVincenzo, Anunoby, McBride

Jalen Brunson was not among the 12 players chosen to represent Team USA in the Paris Olympics. Managing director Grant Hill said it was difficult to leave the Knicks’ star guard off the team, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets.

“You wish you could’ve had three or four more (spots) because there are so many incredibly talented players and incredibly talented people.  That was tough,” Hill said. “It was tough having to say no to certain people who I respect and admire. Certainly he was one of them. And there’s plenty of others who sadly and unfortunately we had to say no to. But with that said, we’re really excited about our group.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Philadelphia’s play-in victory over Miami set up a Sixers-Knicks matchup in the first round. While Isaiah Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson will take turns guarding Joel Embiid, it will require a team effort and a variety of coverages to hold down one of the league’s premier scorers. Fred Katz of The Athletic examines what the Knicks might do defensively in the series to keep the reigning Most Valuable Player in check.
  • Donte DiVincenzo was deemed ineligible for postseason honors even though he appeared in all but one contest. As we detailed earlier this week, he didn’t qualify because he played fewer than 20 minutes in too many games. DiVincenzo, who was considered a candidate for the Most Improved Player award, believes the league will tweak the qualifications, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post relays. “I think the league will probably look at the rule going forward, but it’s not something where if I got the nine seconds, I’m a shoo-in to win the award,” DiVincenzo said. “It’s not that situation. So, for me, I don’t really care about it. I think going forward, you look at the rule. You adjust it accordingly. And you just go from there. And that’s pretty much the only thinking.”
  • The Knicks are 20-3 when OG Anunoby is in the lineup and he could play a key defensive role against Tyrese Maxey, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. “It makes life a lot easier for all of us the things he’s able to do on that [defensive] side of the ball,” Brunson said.
  • Miles McBride played sparingly during the playoffs last season. He will have an expanded role this time around and he’s ready for it, Botte writes. “I take what I learned last year from the little bit I did play, and just watching the team go out there, and we were able to get one playoff-series win,” said McBride, who signed a three-year extension in late December. “This year, I’m just bringing a fresh mindset and will do what I’ve been doing the whole year.”

And-Ones: Team USA, Tiebreakers, W. Bynum, J. Parker, Barton

The Olympics are still three months away, but Grant Hill – USA Basketball’s managing director for the men’s team – didn’t see any reason to wait until the summer to announce the team, given that the program already knew which 12 players it wanted to take to Paris, Hill said on a conference call on Wednesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“We knew,” Hill said. “We didn’t necessarily plan it that way, but we knew this was the team that we wanted and we also know that there’ll be a lot of interest and a lot of people who will want to be along for this incredible journey we’re about to be on. So if we know, why wait?”

Of course, with two months of NBA playoff basketball on tap, it’s possible that one or more of the players Team USA selected for its roster will suffer an injury that prevents him from suiting up in France. Hill said USA Basketball is prepared for that possibility, pointing out that there will be plenty of time to name any necessary replacements.

“We have shown in years past that we’ve had to make changes, and we do have time in the event that something unforeseen were to happen, that we have a contingency plan and we have that at every position,” Hill said. “We hope that that doesn’t happen. But you think back to [the Tokyo Olympics in] 2021, that was the case. And I think, going through this process, you have to learn to expect at times the unexpected, be able to adapt and adjust.”

Hill said that naming the 12-man roster early will allow Team USA to begin the chemistry-building process sooner rather than later. As Bontemps writes, Hill suggested that if schedules allow for it, he’d like to have the U.S. players and coaches “jump on a Zoom” in the not-too-distant future.

We have more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA intends to tweak its end-of-season seeding tiebreaker rules to include the results of that year’s in-season tournament, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links). According to Charania, the league’s general managers will vote on whether to make advancement in the NBA Cup the first tiebreaker or whether to make it the second tiebreaker after head-to-head results.
  • Will Bynum, the former NBA guard who appeared in 360 regular season games for the Warriors, Pistons, and Wizards from 2005-15, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud the NBA’s health and welfare benefit plan, according to an Associated Press report. Bynum joins Keyon Dooling (30 months) and alleged ringleader Terrence Williams (10 years) as former NBA players who have been sentenced to prison time so far as a result of the fraud case.
  • Former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker, who signed with FC Barcelona, has agreed to extend his stay in Spain, signing a new contract with Barca Basquet that runs through 2026, the team announced in a press release.
  • Will Barton‘s stint with CB Granada in Spain is over after just three games, according to a press release. Barton signed with the Spanish team just over a month ago, but has since returned stateside. Granada said in its statement that it “appreciates the attitude and professionalism” the veteran wing showed in his brief time with the club.

Kawhi Leonard Completes Team USA’s Star-Studded Roster For Olympics

Team USA has completed its selection of an All-Star laden 12-player roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic report (Twitter link). Kawhi Leonard was chosen for the final roster spot, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt tweets.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday the 11 other selections for the roster. Team USA received a firm commitment from Leonard on Tuesday, Wojnarowski tweets.

Unlike USA Basketball’s FIBA World Cup roster last summer, which lacked size and interior strength, the Olympic roster is filled with quality bigs. Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo and Anthony Davis will be joined at the power positions by LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

The wings will be manned by Jayson Tatum, Leonard, Devin Booker and Anthony Edwards. Jrue Holiday, Tyrese Haliburton and Stephen Curry round out the backcourt.

Haliburton and Edwards are the only players from the FIBA World Cup roster to make Team USA’s Olympic roster.

Team USA has won the gold medal in each of the last four Summer Olympics.

And-Ones: Kawhi, Team USA, FAs, Musa, Coaches, More

With 11 of 12 roster spots reportedly locked in for USA Basketball’s 2024 Olympic roster, the program could go in a number of different directions with the 12th and final slot. The list of players in contention for that final roster spot includes plenty of big names, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is currently viewed as the leading candidate.

Leonard’s teammate Paul George, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, Magic forward Paolo Banchero, and Nets forward Mikal Bridges are also in the mix, sources tell Charania.

Leonard hasn’t represented Team USA at the Olympics or a World Cup before, but has support from some of the stars on the roster, including Kevin Durant and LeBron James, says Charania. George won gold with Team USA in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, while Brunson, Banchero, and Bridges competed in the 2023 World Cup.

It’s possible that more than one player in that final group of candidates could ultimately make the cut if any of the top 11 have to drop out due to an injury or for personal reasons. Of course, Leonard is currently dealing with a nagging knee issue of his own, though there’s no indication at this point it would prevent him from playing in July.

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

  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes a look at the NBA’s 2024 free agent class, evaluating what sort of stars, starters, and rotation players will be available. As Leroux observes, a handful of stars are on track for potential free agency, but few – if any – are good bets to change teams. That group includes LeBron James, Paul George, James Harden, Pascal Siakam, and Tyrese Maxey.
  • In an interview with Dean Sinovcic of, former first-round pick Dzanan Musa, who spent two seasons in Brooklyn from 2018-20, didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to the NBA as early as this offseason, but said he’s focused for now on trying to win Liga ACB and EuroLeague titles with Real Madrid (hat tip to Sportando).
  • Sam Amick of The Athletic considers what’s at stake for each NBA head coach in the postseason, suggesting that the pressure will be on Joe Mazzulla (Celtics) to at least reach the NBA Finals. Jason Kidd (Mavericks), J.B. Bickerstaff (Cavaliers), and Darvin Ham (Lakers) are among the others who will be motivated to avoid early exits, Amick adds.
  • In a conversation about end-of-season awards, a panel of five ESPN experts weren’t in agreement on who should win Most Improved Player or Sixth Man of the Year. Three different players – Malik Monk, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Naz Reid – earned votes from the five-man panel for Sixth Man honors.
  • Which NBA players were the most underpaid this season? Despite being on a maximum-salary contract, Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tops the list from Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.

Team USA Locks In 11 Of 12 Olympic Roster Spots

The Team USA men’s basketball program has determined 11 of its 12 roster spots for this year’s Paris Olympics, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Woj suggests that the final roster opening could remain open for a while. Sources inform Wojnarowski that Hall of Famer Grant Hill, Team USA’s managing director, is waiting for a July training camp and some Las Vegas exhibition games before finalizing that 12th spot.

10 of the 11 players were honored as All-Stars this season, while the 11th was a key two-way force on the 2021 gold medal-winning team, which is officially considered the 2020 Olympic team.

Here are Team USA’s 11 players:

So far, three NBA teams – the Lakers, Celtics, and Suns – will feature multiple U.S. Olympians.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, serving again as the leader of Team USA this summer, will have just one current familiar face in All-Star point guard Curry, who will be making his Olympic debut. Among the other players listed, four others will be making their debuts with the program on this stage: reigning league MVP Embiid and young All-Star guards Edwards and Haliburton.

As Woj notes, 35-year-old Durant is one of just two players to have won three gold medals in Olympic history, along with future Hall of Fame forward Carmelo Anthony. James is playing in his first Olympics since 2012. James and Anthony were also members of Team USA the last time it didn’t win gold at the tournament, in 2004.

And-Ones: Team USA, Fredette, Peavy, Edwards, B. Gordon

USA Basketball announced today in a press release that former NBA lottery pick Jimmer Fredette will be among the players that represent the country as part of the men’s 3×3 basketball team at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

A star sharpshooter at BYU from 2007-11, Fredette was selected 10th overall in the 2011 draft, but never developed into a reliable rotation player in the NBA, averaging 6.0 PPG with a .372 3PT% in 241 career appearances from 2011-19. He became a star for the Shanghai Sharks in China, but has spent the last few years focusing on 3×3 and has previously expressed a desire to win a gold medal with Team USA in 2024.

Former Princeton standout Kareem Maddox and former Florida Southern star Dylan Travis will join Fredette on Team USA’s 3×3 roster. Rounding out the team will be Canyon Barry, a veteran shooting guard and an ex-Florida Gator who spent several seasons with the Iowa Wolves, the Timberwolves’ G League affiliate, from 2018-22.

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

  • TCU wing Micah Peavy will test the NBA draft waters this spring will also entering the NCAA transfer portal, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Peavy averaged 10.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 29.3 minutes per game across 34 appearances for the Horned Frogs as a senior in 2023/24. He has one year of college eligibility left due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • James Madison swingman Terrence Edwards Jr. is also taking advantage of his extra year of NCAA eligibility by entering both the transfer portal and the NBA draft, he tells Joe Tipton of On3 Sports (Twitter link). Edwards was a full-time starter for the first time in his fourth college season and earned Sun Belt Player of the Year honors by averaging 17.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 3.4 APG with a .427/.343/.810 shooting line in 36 games.
  • Former NBA guard Ben Gordon, who appeared in more than 740 regular season games for the Bulls, Pistons, Bobcats, and Magic from 2004-15, has entered into a probation program after being arrested for causing a disturbance in a Connecticut juice shop in April 2023, per Dave Collins of The Associated Press. If he follows the conditions of the program and doesn’t commit any crimes during the 18-month probation period, Gordon will have his weapons and threatening charges erased, Collins explains.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Kyrie, Ingram, McCollum

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is the heavy betting favorite to be named this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. However, Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama, who is leading the NBA in blocked shots despite averaging just 28.8 minutes per game, is considered a likely finalist for the award in his rookie year.

Responding in French to a reporter from his homeland on Thursday, Wembanyama said that Gobert has earned the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2024, but suggested he intends to supplant his fellow Frenchman as the favorite in future seasons, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

“I know that Rudy has a very good chance of winning it this year, and it would be deserved,” Wembanyama said. “Let him win it now, because after that, it’s no longer his turn.”

Wembanyama is one of the most talented rim protectors to enter the NBA in years. Besides racking up blocked shots, he frequently uses his 7’4″ frame and eight-foot wingspan to force opposing players to alter their shots.

“He makes guys think about shooting layups that are usually just gimmes, easy shots, little bunnies around the rim,” teammate Tre Jones said. “He’s making guys question it, dribble out. And it’s been some of the best players in the league. We all see his dominance on the defensive end and it’s only going to get better.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving has a “deep desire” to play for Team USA in the Paris Olympics this summer, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back (Twitter video link). Irving has previously won gold medals at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics with Team USA, but wasn’t one of the 11 players identified a couple weeks ago as a virtual lock or a “strong candidate” to be part of this year’s team. Still, that group could change in the coming months.
  • Brandon Ingram is best known for his abilities as a scorer, but his Pelicans teammates and coaches are impressed with the strides he has made as a defender, according to Christian Clark of Trey Murphy said that Ingram has made “humongous steps” on defense and is “taking those steps to become a two-way superstar.”
  • Veteran guard CJ McCollum spent the first eight-and-a-half seasons of his NBA career in Portland, but he has found a new home in New Orleans with the Pelicans, both on and off the court, as William Guillory details for The Athletic. “I’m serious about my commitment to New Orleans. I don’t do this for play-play,” McCollum said. “This place holds a special place in my heart, and my family feels the same way.”

And-Ones: Lottery, D. Howard, G League, M. Wright, Team USA

The NBA announced this week (via Twitter) that the 2024 draft lottery will take place on Sunday, May 12. That’s a departure from the league’s usual schedule — the lottery has typically been held on a Tuesday in recent years.

The lottery will be one of three draft-related events held during that week in Chicago. The NBA’s annual draft combine will run from May 12-19, according to the league, while the G League Elite Camp will take place just before that, on the weekend of May 11-12. The Elite Camp features the top draft prospects who didn’t make the initial cut for the combine, with the top performers at that event typically invited to stick around for combine week.

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

  • Eight-time NBA All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard will continue his playing career in Puerto Rico, having reached a deal with Mets de Guaynabo, according to a tweet from the Baoloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN). Howard, who last played in the NBA in 2021/22, spent the ’22/23 season in Taiwan. He was accused of sexual assault and battery in a lawsuit filed last July; that civil suit is ongoing, with a Georgia judge denying a motion to dismiss it last week.
  • Playing in the G League is becoming a more common path for rookies to develop and show they’re capable of a longer look at the NBA level, according to Zach Kram of The Ringer, who says 18 of this year’s 30 first-round picks – including six of 14 lottery selections – have spent time in the NBAGL. Both of those marks are new records, Kram writes within an in-depth look at what the future might hold for the NBA’s minor league.
  • Former Georgia Tech star Moses Wright appeared in just four NBA games in brief stints with the Clippers and Mavericks earlier in his career and now plays for Panathinaikos in Greece. However, Clippers player development assistant Wesley Johnson, who was on Tyronn Lue‘s staff when Wright signed a 10-day deal with the team in 2021, is confident that the 25-year-old will be back in the NBA at some point. “He’s a great player, talented, athletic, can shoot, put the ball on the floor. He was the player of the year in the ACC for a reason,” Johnson said, per Giorgos Efkarpidis of Eurohoops. “… He will find the time and the moment to join a team.”
  • Suns forward Kevin Durant is looking forward to playing for Team USA this summer and will be looking to claim his fourth Olympic gold medal, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, who takes a closer look at what the U.S. roster might look like. The Athletic identified several frontrunners for the 12-man squad earlier this week.