The Russians are coming to the NBA — billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is about to buy the New Jersey Nets (then promptly move them out of New Jersey… insert your own “told you he was a smart businessman” jokes here). This is not to mention guys who used to play for the former USSR, like Arvydas Sabonis, through today’s Russian in the game Andrei Kirilenko who have been part of the game.
“We are waiting for the Prokhorov deal to be completed because we want to work with him,” said Heidi Ueberroth, president of NBA International. “We see (Russia) as a strategic market, and the Prokhorov deal only serves to accelerate our plans…”
The NBA has long had a television deal in Russia, but now wants to develop the game on a grassroots level. The NBA has conducted youth basketball camps in Russia with former NBA all-stars A.C. Green and Scottie Pippen.
“We are focusing on growing the game, and it’s already been a key part of our strategy,” Ueberroth said. “It is really important for our partners like Adidas and Coca-Cola, and we are looking at all kinds of events and additional media opportunities.”
If the players want salaries to stay near where they are — and owners want to turn a profit — then these global markets matter more and more. Because they can’t just depend on the good people of New Jersey to keep buying tickets.
Nets’ Greivis Vasquez pulls out of Olympics for Venezuela
If you want to know what this means for the Venezuelan team heading into Rio, well, they shot just 23.9 percent in an 80-45 loss to Team USA Friday night in Chicago — and that was by far the USA’s worst performance in the exhibition run-up to the Rio Games.
Vasquez should be getting decent minutes off the bench behind Jeremy Lin in Brooklyn this season. They need him healthy as the team tries to move from “god awful” to just plain “not good” next season.
Report: Monty Williams to accept role on Spurs coaching staff next season
Monty Williams is one of the better assistant coaches in the NBA right now, and he was available (remember he understandably left Oklahoma City last season after the tragic death of his wife). He’s part of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff with USA Basketball this summer — watch him in practices at age 44 and he’s a better defender plenty of players in the league — and he wanted to get back on the bench.
Sources told ESPN that Williams — who left the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench in February after the tragic death of his wife, Ingrid — has been urged by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take as much of a role with the organization as he feels comfortable for the 2016-17 campaign.
The specifics of what role Williams would fill and how much time he could commit have not yet been determined, but sources say San Antonio has opened the door to either a coaching and player-development role or a front-office position (or a hybrid), depending on what he prefers.
One source close to Williams told ESPN that the 44-year-old “absolutely” intends to be a head coach in the league again after his expected stint with the Spurs. The source also said numerous teams, including Oklahoma City, have made similar offers to Williams for next season.
Williams will get another shot in the big chair down the line. In the short term, this is a smart move — nothing looks better on a resume than “Spurs” around the league right now.
Team USA has sing-along on plane leaving Chicago. Well, except for ‘Melo.
Like “Stillwater” in Almost Famous, Team USA’s Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving were leading a sing-along of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” on the team plane out of Chicago to Houston for the USA’s final exhibition game. Hat tip Alysha Tsuji who pulled the snapchats.
How could you hate this team 😂 TEAM USA 🏀 singing A Thousand Miles on the plane: 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
There were a lot of ugly things for Team USA in its exhibition win over Venezuela — the 4-of-25 shooting from three comes to mind. There was more, it was not a strong offensive performance from Team USA.
But like usual, we can overwhelm teams with athleticism, and that means wins and highlights. Like Kyle Lowry‘s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler.