USA Basketball

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Haddadi, Goodwin, Douglas, Griffin

USA Basketball has secured a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 event, Sportando relays. The USA team captured a berth with a 78-70 win over Uruguay on Sunday. Venezuela and Argentina were the other teams from the Americas who also qualified for the FIBA tournament.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Center Hamed Haddadi and shooting guard Archie Goodwin will continue their careers in China, according to a pair of Sportando posts. Haddadi, 33, reached an agreement with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. He last appeared in the NBA during the 2012/13 season with the Grizzlies and Suns. Goodwin, 24, signed with the Qingdao Eagles. He most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in a combined 15 games for the Nets and Pelicans.
  • Former NBA guard Toney Douglas has reached an agreement with the Turkish club Darussafaka, according to another Sportando report. Douglas previously played for another team in Turkey, Sakarya. Douglas, 32, most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season with the Grizzlies when came off the bench for 24 games.
  • The blockbuster deal that sent Blake Griffin from the Clippers to the Pistons last winter has worked out surprisingly well for both sides, as Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. Griffin has stayed healthy and played like an MVP candidate for the Pistons through the first 20 games this season, while Tobias Harris is the leading scorer for one of the league’s most prolific offenses, John continues. The draft pick the Clippers acquired was used on point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has displayed unusual poise as a rookie, John adds.

And-Ones: Team USA, Jefferson, Jennings, Bass

With another round of World Cup qualifiers scheduled to begin next week, USA Basketball has officially announced its latest 12-man roster for games against Argentina (November 29) and Uruguay (December 2). The roster is made up primarily of G League players, though NBA free agents Tyler Zeller, Jarnell Stokes, and Eric Moreland are also on the squad. Other former NBA players on the roster include Chasson Randle, DeAndre Liggins, and John Jenkins.

With one more qualifying window scheduled for February after next week’s set of games, Team USA is in prime position to secure a spot in the 2019 World Cup. Team USA currently has a 7-1 record in qualifying contests, which puts the club in a tie with Argentina for first place in Group E. Puerto Rico and Uruguay are tied for third at 5-3. The top three teams in the group will earn spots in the World Cup, and the fourth-place team will have a chance to qualify as well.

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

  • With some help from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, longtime NBA forward Richard Jefferson published a piece on ESPN.com this week, sharing some of his memories from his NBA career and discussing his move into broadcasting.
  • After becoming a free agent this week, veteran guard Brandon Jennings may take the G League route as he tries to work his way back into the NBA, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. However, Smith notes that nothing’s official yet.
  • Smith also checks in a pair of former NBA forward playing in China, reporting (via Twitter) that Brandon Bass is hoping to return to the NBA later in 2018/19, once the Chinese Basketball Association season ends. Jared Sullinger is also putting up huge numbers in China and is in good shape, according to Smith, who tweets that the former Celtic may be ready for another shot in the NBA.
  • Former Trail Blazers guard Tim Quarterman signed this week with Israeli team Ironi Naharyia, per his agency Prostep Sports (Twitter link). Quarterman was waived by the Rockets this past April.

And-Ones: 2019 World Cup, Bryant, 2019 Draft

With the 2019 World Cup in China now just 10 months away, FIBA has announced that Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming will serve as global ambassadors for the event, taking part in activities leading up to next year’s tournament to help promote the event.

“Growing up in Italy and spending many years visiting China, I have always appreciated the global impact that basketball has had on the positive development of young people,” said Bryant, who has long been one of the NBA’s most popular players in China. “I’m honored FIBA has invited me to serve as an ambassador for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. I hope my participation inspires and motivates the best players from the 32 participating teams to represent their respective country on the world’s biggest stage. I look forward to seeing who will lift the trophy next year.”

Team USA hasn’t technically qualified for the 2019 World Cup yet, but is in position to do so comfortably, with a 7-1 record in qualifying games so far.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The struggling Cavaliers were the first NBA team to make major changes during the 2018/19 campaign, parting ways with Tyronn Lue and making major adjustments to their rotation just a handful of games into the season. Matt John of Basketball Insiders explores which teams around the league might be next to shake things up.
  • Firing a head coach is generally the simplest way a team can shake things up when it’s struggling, but the coach isn’t always to blame, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Meanwhile, an NBA.com panel explores which coaches might be feeling the heat next in the wake of Lue’s dismissal.
  • ESPN’s NBA draft gurus continued to examine the 2019 class this week, with Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz offering up their positional rankings for next year’s draft, while Givony, Schmitz, and Kevin Pelton attempt to answer some big questions about 2019’s class. Within that latter discussion, Givony suggests that none of the candidates for the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 have emerged as a lock.

And-Ones: Team USA, G League, Sessions, D. Gordon

Steve Kerr and Brad Stevens are considered the most likely candidates to succeed Gregg Popovich as head coach of Team USA, but there could be other names in the mix, relays Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. During a recent podcast, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Erik Spoelstra as a possibility, along with Nate McMillan and Villanova’s Jay Wright, although he added that the job will probably go to a current NBA coach.

ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst, who joined Wojnarowski for the show, questioned whether McMillan is really in the running, but called Spoelstra a “very strong” candidate, noting that he is highly respected around the league and is the second-longest-tenured head coach with the same team. Spoelstra’s main obstacle is that he’s not already on the Team USA staff.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • The G League’s new alternative to college basketball is getting mixed reviews from some of the nation’s top high school players, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The league plans to offer $125K “select contracts” to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft. Givony talked to a few five-star recruits who haven’t chosen a college — along with their families — and found both interest and skepticism about the new arrangement. “My first reaction was I’d like to hear more,” said Richard Hurt, the father of top-10 recruit Matthew Hurt. “… There are some things that are intriguing about it. It’s not the money. It’s the opportunity to focus solely on what your craft will be. Similar to what a trade school would be.”
  • Ramon Sessions may be headed to Israel, notes Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Maccabi Tel Aviv is reportedly considering an offer for the 11-year NBA veteran, who played a combined 28 games last season for the Knicks and Wizards. Sessions may replace another former NBA player, Jeremy Pargo, who will miss several weeks with an injury.
  • Drew Gordon tells NetsDaily.com that he sees the G League as his chance to return to the NBA after three years of being overseas. Gordon, who is playing for Long Island, has just nine games of NBA experience, all coming with the Sixers during the 2014/15 season. “I’ve basically been living my life out of four suitcases for the last five, six years,” he said. “It’s always interesting to immerse yourself into different cultures and having to live there for an extended period of time. You just have to learn to go with the flow with certain types of things and be able to adapt quickly and make changes with your game and everyday lifestyle.”

Pacific Notes: Suns, Clippers, Kings, Warriors

Although the Suns reportedly met with free agent combo guard Jamal Crawford on Friday, interim GM James Jones said earlier in the day that the team doesn’t mind entering the season with its current group of point guards, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays (via Twitter).

“They’ve had their ups and downs, but [Suns] coach Igor [Kokoskov] is adamant that we have enough playmakers to figure it out,” Jones said. “We’ll continue to look to improve and strengthen our team, but right now, we like our young guys.”

After trading Brandon Knight during the offseason, the Suns now have Shaquille Harrison, Isaiah Canaan, De’Anthony Melton, and Elie Okobo at the point. Melton and Okobo have yet to appear in a regular season NBA game, and it’s not clear whether the team will keep both Harrison and Canaan through Monday. Phoenix currently has 14 players on guaranteed contracts, with Harrison, Canaan, and Richaun Holmes on non-guaranteed deals.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers believes roster cutdown decisions are “always hard,” but this year’s cuts will be especially challenging for his team, as Mirjam Swanson of The Los Angeles Times details. Patrick Beverley and Tyrone Wallace, whose salaries aren’t fully guaranteed, are likely to make the roster, which means L.A. will likely have to trade or waive two players with guaranteed contracts. Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell, and Wesley Johnson are among the candidates.
  • The Kings will be bringing back most of the same players that were on the roster in 2017/18, but with Garrett Temple no longer in Sacramento, the team is without a leader, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Head coach Dave Joerger acknowledged this week that Temple is “greatly” missed in the locker room, adding that his club is dealing with a “vacuum of leadership.”
  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will be an assistant coach for Team USA during the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, and several of his players are hoping to join him on those teams, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Klay Thompson tells Friedell that it would be “awesome” if five current Golden State players – Thompson, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins – made the Team USA roster.

And-Ones: Team USA, McAdoo, Bennett, Drafts

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Pacers coach Nate McMillan and Villanova coach Jay Wright have been named assistant coaches of the 2019-20 USA Basketball Men’s National Team, USA Basketball announced in a press release. The three assistants will join Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to round out the coaching staff of the Olympic team.

“Led by coach Popovich, we have assembled an incredible coaching staff for the USA National Team, and we are excited to have Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright join the team as assistant coaches,” said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball Men’s National Team. “It’s special that each coach has prior USA Basketball experience as either a player or coach, and each coach has compiled a successful and impressive resume. I’m very confident that the USA Basketball National Team is in excellent hands the next two years.”

Popovich, Kerr, McMillan and Wright share decades of combined coaching and playing experience, with each coach highly respected by their peers and by players across the NBA.

“I am honored and fortunate to have such gifted coaches share this USA Basketball responsibility with me,” Popovich said. “Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright are not just knowledgeable, dedicated individuals, but they exhibit the creativity, tenacity and respect for the game needed to compete in the international arena.

“I look forward to joining them as USA Basketball attempts to extend the stellar success they’ve enjoyed over the past 12 years.”

The USA National Team has won 76 straight games, including three straight gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016. The impressive coaching staff – followed by an expected All-Star team of talent in 2020 – puts Team USA in a good position to win a fourth straight gold medal.

There’s more news around the basketball world:

  • The Maine Red Claws completed a trade today in the G League, sending the returning player rights of Anthony Bennett to the Agua Caliente Clippers in exchange for the returning player rights to James McAdoo and a 2018 third-round pick in the upcoming G League Draft. The Maine Red Claws are the G League affiliate of the NBA’s Celtics, while the Agua Caliente Clippers are the Clippers‘ affiliate.
  • ESPN.com writers Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz published a detailed story on young prospects, focusing on players from the 2019 recruiting class who could become draft-eligible in 2020. Class of 2019 center James Wiseman remains an intriguing talent, with the 7-footer still considering offers from a handful of schools.
  • We discussed several more basketball odds and ends in our last And-Ones roundup, including an update on the NBA’s new international plans for the 2019 preseason.

Team USA Announces Camp Roster For September World Cup Qualifiers

Fourteen players will participate in a Las Vegas training camp beginning this Thursday, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. Of those 14 players, 12 will be named to Team USA’s roster for the club’s upcoming qualifying games for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

This set of games – the first window for the second round of qualifiers – will take place later this month. Team USA will face Uruguay on September 14, then play against Panama on September 17.

The following players will be vying for Team USA roster spots for these qualifying contests:

In the first round of qualifying games for the 2019 World Cup, Team USA was made up predominantly of G League players. That’s the case to some extent again this time, with guys like Hearn and Warney returning. However, many of the players this time around are currently under contract with NBA teams, including Bacon (Hornets), Ellenson (Pistons), Hicks (Knicks), Mason (Kings), Trice (Bucks), and White (Spurs).

“With our September second-round games marking the start of the most critical part of the World Cup Qualifying, I think it is imperative for us to look for players who possess mental fortitude, who are tough, and who have experience,” said Team USA head coach Jeff Van Gundy. “All of our second-round games are going to very, very difficult and competitive battles. Argentina, Panama and Uruguay are all really good and well coached.”

The second round of the World Cup qualifiers will take place over three windows of competition in September, November, and February. Team USA will play two games apiece vs. Argentina, Panama, and Uruguay during that stretch.

Having posted a 5-1 record during the first round of qualifiers, Team USA is tied for first with Argentina in Group E, which is made up of six teams. If Team USA remains in the top three of the Group E standings by the end of February’s games, the squad will qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in China next September.

And-Ones: 2019 Draft, Age Minimum, Team USA

After attending a handful of summer events involving top prospects, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) have updated their 2019 NBA mock draft. While Duke freshman R.J. Barrett continues to be viewed as 2019’s top pick, he’s joined in the top three this time around by a fast-rising teammate — Givony and Schmitz have Duke forward Zion Williamson at No. 3 in their latest mock.

Other new names in ESPN’s top 10 include Kentucky freshman wing Keldon Johnson and Oregon freshman center Bol Bol. Johnson excelled in the Wildcats’ exhibition games in the Bahamas, though the ESPN duo was also impressed by Johnson’s teammate PJ Washington, who “looks to be in much better shape” than he was last season. As for Bol, he had a strong showing at the Nike Basketball Academy, as Givony detailed earlier in the month.

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

  • Although the NBA’s draft eligibility rule related to a player’s minimum age won’t change within the next couple years, it seems highly likely to be altered or eliminated at some point. Tom Ziller of SBNation.com explores a few possible alternatives to the current rule.
  • In a step toward the elimination of the one-and-done rule, the NBA, NCAA, and NBPA reached an agreement with USA Basketball, announcing today that Team USA will expand its Men’s Junior National Team program to include additional training camps and year-round player development programming. The program will include approximately 80 top high school prospects, or about 20 per high school class. Here’s the official announcement from USA Basketball, along with more details from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
  • Players on two-way contracts who spend the maximum allowable number of days with their NBA clubs in 2018/19 will be able to earn up to $385,612 this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That’s still well short of the NBA rookie minimum ($838,464), but greatly exceeds the standard $35K G League salary.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines some potential surprise teams for the 2018/19 season, suggesting that the Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Clippers, and Suns are candidates to exceed expectations.

NBA, USAB Execs Caught Off Guard By NCAA Changes

Executives from the NBA and USA Basketball were blindsided by an NCAA announcement that revealed a series of planned reforms involving top prospects, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the NBA, NCAA, and USA Basketball met to discuss potential changes, but the NBA and USAB didn’t believe they had come to any consensus on how to move forward on multiple issues.

One key aspect of Wednesday’s NCAA announcement was the introduction of a rule that will allow “elite” high school seniors to hire agents. That rule is expected to go into effect once the NBA’s one-and-done rule is abolished, but that’s not a lock to happen — even if it does, it likely won’t be until 2021 or 2022 at the earliest, raising questions about why the NCAA had to make such an early announcement.

Additionally, the NCAA indicated in its press release that USA Basketball would be responsible for determining whether or not a high school prospect is considered “elite.” That’s not a responsibility that USAB officials asked for or want, according to Wojnarowski, who says that USA Basketball believes the NBA is better equipped to make those sorts of decisions.

The NCAA’s rule changes, which include greater flexibility for early entrants to put their names in the draft and later decide to return to school, were initially viewed as a step in the right direction. However, as more details surface on the reforms, there’s skepticism from NBA observers and league insiders about how effective the new measures can be.

While the NCAA says it will allow early entrants to remain in the draft and return to school if they’re not selected on draft night, that rule will only apply to prospects who attended the draft combine. In 2018, just 69 prospects were invited to the combine and the majority of those players were drafted in June — in other words, the new rule will impact a very small group of prospects.

As detailed above, there’s also concern about how the “elite” designation for high school prospects will work, since it could overlook talented players and only benefit a select few.

Here are a couple more pieces reacting to the NCAA’s rule changes:

  • The NCAA’s reforms have been met with confusion and skepticism in many corners of the basketball world, according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who writes that the announcement “feels like a grab for positive press.”
  • Sports legal expert Michael McCann of SI.com presents six takeaways from the NCAA announcement, noting that limiting agent eligibility to “elite” male prospects could create antitrust, equal protection, and Title IX issues. McCann also observes that the NCAA appears to be relying on the NBA and NBPA to make rule changes of their own.

Jerry Colangelo’s Time With Sixers Coming To End

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo resigned from his post last month after burner Twitter accounts that revealed private information about the team were uncovered and linked to Colangelo and his wife. Now, Bryan’s father Jerry Colangelo, a special advisor for the 76ers, is poised to leave the organization as well.

As Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post details, Colangelo refers to his tenure in Philadelphia as being over, later clarifying that it will technically conclude “at the end of the year.” A league source confirmed to Bontemps that Colangelo remains under contract through the end of the calendar year, and while the Sixers will be honoring that contract, it won’t be renewed.

Given the events that transpired in Philadelphia leading up to his son’s departure from the Sixers, the elder Colangelo was put in an uncomfortable position. As he tells Bontemps, Colangelo prefers not to publicly address Bryan’s situation.

“I haven’t made any public comments about what transpired,” Colangelo said. “I don’t think it would be appropriate. It’s a very difficult summer for him, and his family.”

While his time with the Sixers is set to come to an end, Colangelo remains involved with USA Basketball, and he and head coach Gregg Popovich will be responsible for picking which players represent Team USA at the next major international tournaments. Colangelo, who will turn 79 this fall, intends to continue his work with Team USA through 2020, but isn’t sure what his future holds beyond the next Olympics, he tells Bontemps.