Dan Feldman

Serbia's Bogdan Bogdanovic (7) hugs fans after a quarterfinal round basketball game against Croatia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Serbia men’s basketball holds off rival Croatia, sets up Olympic semifinal against Australia

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Serbia consoled Bogdanovic.

Thankfully for the Serbs, it was Bojan Bogdanovic.

Serbia beat Croatia 86-83 in an Olympic men’s basketball quarterfinal Wednesday, a premier stage for the rivals that were both part of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia, which faces Australia in a semifinal Friday, is now one win from its first men’s basketball Olympic medal as Serbia.  Serbia and Montenegro won silver in 1996. (Yugoslavia won a gold, three silvers and a bronze.)

Croatia, which trailed by 14 in the fourth quarter, cut the deficit to one with a few minutes left. But it couldn’t get closer, including during a foul fest in the final minute.

Bojan Bogdanovic – who was drafted No. 31 in 2011 played for Nets last two seasons – led Croatia with 28 points and exits Rio with a tournament-high 152 points. With a 41-point lead over second-place Kevin Durant, Bogdanovic might even hold his lead another round – or two. But his dejection after the comeback fell short was so apparent, Serbian players seemed to tell him to keep his head up.

They didn’t need to tell Bogdan Bogdanovic, who led Serbia with 18 points and added five assists, no turnovers and three steals before fouling out. This Bogdanovic – who was drafted No. 27 by Suns in 2014, and had his rights trades to Kings on draft day this year – circled the court high-fiving fans.

Confusing? A little.

But this is clear: Serbia is advancing, and Croatia is done.

Timofey Mozgov practicing for Russia and pain free after injury.

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Timofey Mozgov #20 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates in the locker room after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 to win the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Good and bad news for the Lakers.

The good news: Timofey Mozgov seems healthy after injuring his groin playing for Russia.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers said Mozgov participated in a full practice Wednesday with Russia and reported no pain from the injury after he got an MRI exam on Saturday.

The bad news: 30-year-old Mozgov is still signed to a four-year, $64 million contract.

Report: Lakers willing to buy out Nick Young if they can’t trade him

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 10: Nick Young #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up prior to the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on February 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Nick Young sounds ready to bury the hatchet with D'Angelo Russell and continue with the Lakers.

Young might not get the chance.

If the Lakers can’t trade him as they hope, they’re ready to resort to other options.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

I would frankly be surprised if Nick Young is on the Lakers’ roster at the start of the season. They’ve been trying to trade him for a while. They’re still trying to trade him. They are willing to even buy him out if necessary to move on.

Young’s four-year, $21.5 million contract looked awful when he signed it. It has only aged worse than expected.

Not only did he clash with Russell – who bears responsibility for the humiliating video, but is one of the Lakers’ most valuable players – Young has become one of the NBA’s worst players. He’s an extremely inefficient gunner who lacks any complementary skills.

The key question is how much the Lakers would pay him to go away. Young is due $11,112,585 over the final two years of his contract, and if I were him, I wouldn’t sacrifice a dime. He seems to prefer being in Los Angeles, and there’s no guarantee of even a minimum deal elsewhere.

If the Lakers would have to pay Young his full remaining salary, they’d have a few options. If they waive him by Aug. 31, they can stretch his 2016-17 salary. Either way, they’d have the option of stretching his 2017-18 salary.

Here are the scenarios:

Waive and stretch by Aug. 31:

  • 2016-17: $2,222,517
  • 2017-18: $2,222,517
  • 2018-19: $2,222,517
  • 2019-20: $2,222,517
  • 2020-21: $2,222,517

Waive and stretch after Aug. 31:

  • 2016-17: $5,443,918
  • 2017-18: $1,889,556
  • 2018-19: $1,889,556
  • 2019-20: $1,889,556

Waive without stretching:

  • 2016-17: $5,443,918
  • 2017-18: $5,668,667

I’d definitely take one of the latter two routes. What are the Lakers going to do with more cap flexibility this season? Better to take their lumps now.

Then, it comes down to their long-term planning. I’d probably rather spread the remaining amount into a small cap hit over the following three years rather than eating it all in 2017-18. But if the Lakers don’t believe they can attract free agents next summer – as deals for Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson indicate – it might be better to have Young fully off the books by the 2018 offseason.

Team USA turns tables on Argentina, advances to Olympic semifinal against Spain

United States' Kevin Durant (5) signals to teammates after he scored against Argentina during a men's quarterfinal round basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Jimmy Butler intercepted a pass, scurried up court and made a layup as a foul wiped him out. Paul George and Kyle Lowry sprinted to help him up. Draymond Green and DeAndre Jordan interlocked arms as they clapped from the bench area, preventing each other from encroaching onto the court.

This was the Team USA that Americans hoped to see.

Exceptional athleticism. Elite talents lifting each other. Enthusiastic in-game celebrations.

And a blowout win.

After falling behind double digits in a hurry, Team USA went on a 27-2 run – punctuated by Butler’s three-point play – to beat Argentina 105-78 in a quarterfinal Wednesday.

The U.S. now carries a 23-game Olympic winning streak into a semifinal against Spain on Friday, but reaching 24 could be challenging. Spain crushed France earlier in the day, continuing a run of excelling against the field’s best competition. There’s a reason Team USA reportedly considers Spain, which won silver medals in 2008 and 2012, its top threat.

At least the Americans enter their Spain matchup coming off their most complete performance in Rio.

Three straight close wins (over Australia, Serbia and France) to close group play raised serious questions. Falling behind 19-9 to Argentina today brought the panic full bore. A loss today would’ve meant the first medal-less Olympics for the U.S. men’s basketball team in 18 appearances.

But Kevin Durant (27 points on 7-of-9 3-point shooting)led the comeback, and Paul George (17 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocks) and DeMarcus Cousins (15 points) flanked him with more than enough support.

These types of wins have become the norm against Argentina, the last team to beat the U.S. in the Olympics. After that 2004 semifinal upset, Team USA has beaten Argentina by 20, 29, 26 and now 27.  Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni have just aged out of contention after winning gold medals 12 years ago.  The 25-year-old Facundo Campazzo (13 points, nine assists and four steals) provided a spark, but he couldn’t do nearly enough – except continue to agitate Team USA. Late in the game, Argentinian fans sent off their Golden Generation with raucous cheering and a standing ovation.

The Americans have no time for nostalgia now. Spain looms, and then Team USA will play for a medal Sunday. Australia will meet the winner of Croatia-Serbia – streaming here at 9:15 p.m. Eastern tonight – in the other semifinal.

The U.S. easily dispatched Argentina, but the challenge only grows greater from here.

LeBron James says he sometimes regrets skipping Rio Olympics, considering 2020 return to Team USA

US forward LeBron James celebrates after

After plenty of back-and-forth thinking, LeBron James opted to sit out the Rio Olympics.

It sounds like he’s still going back-and-forth.

LeBron on Team USA, via a Rachel Nichols interview that will air tomorrow on ABC’s Good Morning America:

“Every time I watch ’em I wish I was out there…I did not retire from Team USA. I just did not play this summer. So I still left the door open.”

LeBron will be 35 in 2020, which would make him the oldest American Olympic men’s basketball player since Larry Bird in 1992. I’m skeptical about LeBron playing for Team USA in Tokyo.

But USA Basketball holds him in high regard, and he might not need to fully earn a spot. Even if it’s based on merit, LeBron is declining from such a high peak, he could be one of the Americans’ top players four years from now.

The bigger issue is whether LeBron will want to play. He just led the Cavaliers to back-to-back Finals, and his team figures to run the East for a while. That’s a lot of mileage to rack up between the NBA regular season and playoffs, let alone adding Olympic play.

LeBron, like many watching on television, has been thrilled by the Rio Games. As that excitement dissipates and reality sets in a few years from now, he’ll be more prone to focus on his health and remaining NBA years.