USA Basketball

Grant Hill To Become Managing Director Of USA Basketball

Basketball legend Grant Hill will succeed Jerry Colangelo as the new managing director of USA Basketball’s men’s team following the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, per a press release issued on Saturday (via The AP’s Tim Reynolds).

Hill, 48, will assume the role with a resume that includes 19 NBA seasons and seven All-Star team selections. He was a member of the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame class and helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity, also an incredible challenge,” Hill said. “I had the good fortune of participating in international play — the Pan American Games, of course the Olympic team — and I have been a fan of Team USA going back to the 1984 Olympic team when I first started to fall in love with basketball. The more I thought about it, the more intrigued, excited and the more willing I was to roll up my sleeves and move forward with this awesome responsibility.”

It will be no easy task for Hill replacing Colangelo, who joined USA Basketball in 2005 as managing director after Team USA won the bronze medal in 2004. The former Suns owner helped shaped the program for years to come, selecting players and coaches to help USA Basketball compete for gold.

For three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012, 2016), Team USA took home gold medals led by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, and will play under current Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich in Tokyo. Hill intends to work closely with Colangelo during the Tokyo Olympics in preparation for taking over the reins.

“I intend to spend an incredible amount of time with Jerry, shadow him some this summer, and I think that experience will certainly help as we move forward,” Hill said. “He’s just an invaluable resource and has done a remarkable job, so you can’t help but learn from someone like Jerry.”

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), talks about Hill succeeding Colangelo had been ongoing for months. NBA commissioner Adam Silver was a “big proponent” of Hill’s candidacy for the position, Wojnarowski adds.

Hill, who has worked as an analyst for Turner Sports covering the NBA and NCAA, will remain in that role after taking over the Team USA job, Reynolds reports. In the meantime, he is focused on the challenge of building and sustaining a winning national team.

“The brain is working,” Hill said.

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).

And-Ones: All-Star Game, Olympics, Dunk Contest, SPACs

Speaking to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, NBA commissioner Adam Silver went into more detail on why the league felt compelled to hold an All-Star Game this season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Silver, who has previously cited fan engagement as a key reason for not canceling the game, reiterated that point in his conversation with Reynolds.

“It’s the largest factor, the amount of engagement we get from our fans around All-Star,” Silver said. “Historically, in the modern digital age, we have roughly 100 million people vote for our All-Stars, and we came out about the same this year even with a shortened voting period.”

While Silver has insisted that the NBA is thinking about its fans, it’s safe to assume the league is also considering the interests of one of its largest broadcast partners, Turner Sports. The All-Star Game is one of TNT’s biggest annual events, and the network presumably pushed for the game to take place. If the game had been canceled, the league likely would’ve had to renegotiate aspects of its TV agreement with Turner Sports.

“My personal view is very few people do anything just for the money,” Silver told Reynolds. “But at the same time, while we’re clearly in a health emergency in this country, we’re also in the midst of an economic crisis and that extends to the NBA as well. There are tens of thousands of people who are dependent on the NBA for their livelihoods. So, for those who say we’re doing it for the money, they could say the same thing about our entire operation, about the fact that we’re even playing our season.”

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Team USA’s pre-Olympic camp in Las Vegas is scheduled to coincide with the NBA’s conference finals this summer, meaning one of the many difficult decisions USA Basketball will face relates to whether certain players are worth waiting for, Reynolds writes in another Associated Press story. The program is expected to have to make a handful of contingency plans as it prepares its roster for the Tokyo Olympics.
  • Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, and Hornets forward Miles Bridges are among the players who have turned down invitations to participate in the 2021 slam dunk contest, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Pelicans star Zion Williamson also passed on the event, Haynes adds (via Twitter). The NBA will officially announce the participants for this year’s dunk contest, skills challenge, and 3-point contest tonight.
  • In a story for The New York Post, Josh Kosman and Thornton McEnery explore how the NBA will have soon have to make a decision on how to handle “special-purpose acquisition corporations” (SPACs) that want to purchase shares of franchises. The Warriors approached the NBA about selling a minority stake in their team to such a company, but withdrew that request when the league put off a decision, per Kosman and McEnery.

And-Ones: Trade Deadline Preview, Rising Stars Game, IT, Boogie

With a month to go before the NBA’s March 25 trade deadline for 2020/21, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) supplies a very informative breakdown of what moves all 30 NBA clubs could be looking to make, plus which teams will be prioritizing the present over the future and vice versa.

Marks speculates that several interesting names could be available via trade this year, from valuable veteran forwards like P.J. Tucker, Thaddeus Young and Aaron Gordon to recent All-Star guards on big-money expiring deals like Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

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

  • There will be no Rising Stars Game between rookies and sophomore pros this season at the March 7 All-Star Game in Atlanta, but the NBA will still name players to rosters on Wednesday, March 3, according to a league announcement. 20 first- and second-year players will be announced in total — 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international countries.
  • Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated takes a detailed look at the latest comeback attempt for free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas, who finally underwent a hip surgery last year to address an issue that had impacted his play since 2017. Beck contends that the 32-year-old, 5’9″ Thomas looked like his springier pre-injury self across two USA Basketball victories during a 2022 FIBA AmeriCup qualifier in San Juan, Puerto Rico last weekend. Thomas averaged 14 PPG and 2.5 APG during the contests.
  • After being waived by the Rockets earlier this week, center DeMarcus Cousins has cleared waivers to become an unrestricted free agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Houston apparently tried to trade Cousins, playing on a $1.62MM fully-guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract, to no avail.

And-Ones: I. Thomas, Trades, Lin, Cunningham

While Isaiah Thomas is excited and honored to represent Team USA at the AmeriCup qualifiers in Puerto Rico this weekend, he admitted in a conversation with Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that he’s also viewing the event as an opportunity to showcase himself for NBA teams.

“My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA as soon as possible,” Thomas said. “This allows me to compete against other professionals, represent my country at the same time — which is an honor and a privilege — and ultimately show NBA teams that I’m back to myself and I’m 100% healthy. That’s why I chose to come here. When Team USA brought it to me, it was a no-brainer.”

As Reynolds notes, the games themselves won’t mean much for Team USA, which has already qualified for the 2022 AmeriCup tournament by going undefeated in earlier qualifying games. But they’ll be significant for Thomas, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since being released by the Clippers last February. Veteran teammate Joe Johnson said Thomas has looked “great” in practices.

“One thing I’ll say: In pick and rolls, I think he’s probably going to be unstoppable,” Johnson said of Thomas. “Bigs, I don’t know what they’ll do. Do you get out and hedge? He’ll go around you and split you. Do you try to catch him? He’ll pull up for the jumper. He has a great arsenal. It’s been fun to watch him play, man. I will tell you that.”

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

And-Ones: Korver, Executive Of The Year, Olympics, Bone

Veteran shooting guard Kyle Korver is pondering his playing future after spending 17 straight seasons in the NBA, as relayed by Mark Medina of USA Today.

“I’m not sure. I’ve talked to a few teams about it,” Korver said of a potential return. “Coming out of the bubble, I believe in honoring the game. I believe you honor the season with a good offseason. Coming out of the bubble with the quick turnaround, I didn’t feel I really did that. So I don’t want to cheat the game.

“If I want to go play, I want to go play well. I haven’t signed any paperwork. My wife asks me this question every day. It’s one I have a hard time finding my exact words for. So I haven’t signed paperwork yet. I’ve enjoyed being with my family, and it’s been a challenging season across the board for the league and for the players. But we’ll see. I don’t know.”

Korver also discussed multiple other subjects with Medina, including the Bucks’ walkout in the bubble, the Jacob Blake shooting, and the racial justice movement.

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

  • Ariel Pacheco of Basketball Insiders examines the Executive of the Year watch, taking a detailed look into which executives could be under consideration for the award this season. Naturally, Pacheco mentions Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who constructed a championship team last season and is coming off a respectable offseason.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic explores whether NBA players will be able to represent Team USA at the Summer Olympics. The NBA Finals are set to extend into late July, with a potential Game 7 falling on July 22. Team USA is scheduled to open against France on July 25. “We’d like it if players on the roster could be replaced, even after [the tournament] starts,” managing director Jerry Colangelo said, recognizing the Olympic rules must be changed to allow this. As of right now, it’s unclear who will head to Tokyo on behalf of Team USA.
  • The Delaware Blue Coats (the Sixers‘ G League affiliate) have acquired Jordan Bone and a 2021/22 third-round pick from the Lakeland Magic (Orlando’s G League affiliate), the team announced in a press release. In return, the club sent the returning player rights to J.P. Macura, the returning player rights to Doral Moore and a 2021-22 second-round pick. Bone was most recently on a two-way contract with the Magic.

And-Ones: Garza, Robinson, USA Basketball, G League

Luka Garza projects as a second-unit center who can beat up reserve bigs with his offensive skills, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link). While Garza is the most dominant scorer in college basketball this season, his defensive limitations will prove problematic at the next level. A best-case scenario would be for Garza to develop into an Enes Kanter-type player. ESPN currently ranks Garza as the 46th-best prospect in this year’s draft.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson has parted ways with Bahcesehir in Turkey, he told JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). It’s a matter of seeking another opportunity, with the 29-year-old looking to return to playing as soon as possible. He played 313 NBA games with six teams in 2012-17.
  • USA Basketball is planning to create a “bubble” in Las Vegas for Team USA, Australia and Spain where they can train and play exhibition games against one another prior to the Tokyo Olympics, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Team USA is tentatively planning to open training camp the week of July 4 while the NBA playoffs are ongoing.
  • USA Basketball has petitioned the U.S. Olympic Committee, the IOC and FIBA — which runs the Olympic basketball tournament —  to change the rules for when rosters for the Games must be submitted, Windhorst adds in the same report. Normally, the rosters must be set several weeks in advance but the NBA playoffs may not end until three days prior to Team USA’s first Olympic game.
  • Greensboro Swarm head coach Jay Hernandez provides details in a HoopsHype post on how his team is preparing for the G League season in Orlando while under quarantine.

And-Ones: AmeriCup, Olympics, All-Star Break, Draft

USA Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 12-man roster for the AmeriCup qualifying tournament taking place in Puerto Rico later this month. Several players representing Team USA in games against The Bahamas on February 19 and Mexico on February 20 have already been reported, with former All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and Joe Johnson leading the way.

However, today’s announcement includes a few more players with NBA experience that we haven’t already passed along. Josh Boone, James Nunnally, and Jordan Sibert will also be part of the roster, per today’s announcement.

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

  • FIBA has revealed the groups for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball tournament, announcing today that Team USA will be part of Group A alongside France and Iran. The fourth team in the group will be the winner of a qualifying tournament that includes Canada, Greece, Turkey, China, the Czech Republic, and Uruguay..
  • While players will get a break from March 5-10, between the first and second halves of the season, they’ll have to undergo daily COVID-19 testing during that time and will likely be required to be back in their team’s market two days before the end of that break, says Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report released an updated version of his 2021 mock draft, as did ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link). Both mocks have Cade Cunningham at No. 1, Evan Mobley at No. 2, and Jalen Suggs at No. 4, but disagree about which G League Ignite player should be at No. 3 — Wasserman has Jonathan Kuminga there, while Givony and Schmitz favor Jalen Green.

And-Ones: Graham, Green, James, Free Agents

Free agent guard Treveon Graham has committed to play with Team USA in this year’s AmeriCup qualifying tournament, according to a report from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The tournament is scheduled to be held from Feb. 19-20 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Graham is the fifth reported player to commit thus far, joining Joe Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Dakota Mathias and Josh Boone.

Other former NBA players could join the team in the coming days, as the tournament is being held in the midst of the G League season. Graham, 27, has made past stops with the Hornets, Nets, Timberwolves and Hawks since going undrafted in 2015.

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

  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic examines the G League dream of Jalen Green, who’s currently preparing to play with the Ignite in the G League bubble next month. Green, 18, is a high-level prospect for the 2021 NBA Draft. “It’s different,” said Green, who opted to join the Ignite instead of attending college last year. “It’s a different path from what others are used to. We’re learning overall NBA terms. We’re getting stronger, faster. We’re getting ahead of the game, so, I think overall it’s been a great experience.”
  • Veteran guard Mike James will stay with CSKA Moscow, according to Lithuanian basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). James was suspended by the team due to an incident with his participation on Jan. 22, prompting him to release a statement on social media. He holds NBA experience with the Suns and Pelicans.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines the supply and demand of free agency, along with the potential domino effect for the class of 2021. Several players — such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George and Rudy Gobert — opted to sign extensions with their teams last year, choosing not to reach free agency this summer.

Rockets Notes: Oladipo, Wood, Porter Jr., Thomas, Martin

Rockets guard Victor Oladipo feels like franchises he’s played for have been too quick to give up on him, as he told Chris Sims of the Indianapolis Star. Oladipo was acquired from the Pacers in the four-team blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season. “It’s unfortunate going through my career, it just feels like people kind of keep quitting on me, but it’s a part of life and I embrace it,” Oladipo said. “I’m just trying to make the most of every day.” He’s averaging 22.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 4.8 APG in his first five games with Houston.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Big man Christian Wood is one of the 60 players invited by USA Basketball to compete for one of the 12 spots on the Olympic team, Mark Berman of KRIV tweets. He’ll fight an uphill battle to make Team USA but it’s another accomplishment for a player who bounced around the league before his breakout season in Detroit a year ago.
  • Houston is assigning Kevin Porter Jr. Brodric Thomas, and KJ Martin to the G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Porter is the most notable name among the trio headed to Orlando for G League “bubble” practices and games in Orlando. The second-year swingman was acquired from the Cavs after wearing out his welcome in Cleveland.
  • Should Wood be considered for the All-Star team? Voice your opinion in our latest Community Shootaround.