Guys want to play in the Olympics.
There is injury risk — just ask Paul George. Players don’t get as much summer downtime to rest their bodies in the offseason. It doesn’t matter. The chance to represent the USA — and grow their personal brand on a massive international marketing stage like the Olympics — has players lining up for the chance to play in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. (Oh yea, Rio is another reason guys are lining up.)
That means those players will be at the Team USA mini-camp in Las Vegas in early August. We knew Carmelo Anthony would be there even though he cannot fully participate, now you can add Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to the list. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN had the Griffin news.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will participate in next month’s USA Basketball minicamp in Las Vegas and hopes to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a league source told ESPN.
Griffin is one of those guys who has had injury issues with Team USA. Remember in 2012 he was likely to make the London Olympics roster but tore his meniscus in training camp after stepping on John Wall’s foot during practice. His back injury sidelined him two years ago from the FIBA World Cup.
Then there are the Warriors stars.
The camp also will be crowded with guys like Jimmy Butler of the Bulls trying to earn a roster spot. Stein says as many as 40 guys could be at camp, including Bradley Beal, Mike Conley, Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee. It’s an important place to make an impression. Players with a long Team USA history and enough talent don’t need to attend — if LeBron James or Kevin Durant want to play in Rio, they are in no matter what they do this summer.
Whoever makes the cut for Mike Krzyzewski’s team, the USA will go to Rio the heavy favorites to win the Gold Medal again. Spain — if both Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol go — will again likely be the biggest challengers.
If you haven’t been following Bobby Marks this summer on Twitter… you call yourself an NBA fan? The former Brooklyn Nets front office executive has been bringing first-hand, insightful front office thoughts and knowledge to the Twitter table all through free agency. He’s now an NBA must follow.
Sunday morning he put up a series of tweets showing how every team has built its roster using three categories: Draft, trades, and free agency. (For clarification, he counts draft-day trades of rookies as part of the draft.) I thought this was too good not to pass along.
One big takeaway — the draft matters. A lot.
Sure, much of the Spurs contending roster came via free agency, but look who is in the draft column — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili. The Clippers are not where they are without drafting Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Thunder drafted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Yes, the Cavaliers got LeBron James via free agency but does he come if they don’t draft Kyrie Irving? Maybe the most extreme example is the Pelicans, they have only one drafted player on the roster — Anthony Davis.
Fans love trades, and you can get cornerstone pieces that way (James Harden, Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, etc.). Free agency is exciting and sometimes big names like LeBron, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, or LaMarcus Aldridge move teams. But the draft is where most teams that have a cornerstone player got them. Winning the draft and holding on to those guys is what matters more than anything else.
The last time we saw Carmelo Anthony on a basketball court was the NBA All-Star Game, and the only reason he played there was he wanted to be an unofficial host of the event in New York. He should have shut it down and had knee surgery before that, but the All-Star Game kept him around for a while.
He will back on a court in August in Las Vegas, however.
That is where Team USA is hosting a mini-camp, looking at some potential players for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Marc Berman of the New York Post has the story.
According to a source, Anthony has informed U.S. Olympic Team officials he will attend the Aug. 11-13 minicamp as the team gears up for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Anthony is still rehabbing from February’s left-knee surgery so he will not be a fully active participant, according to a source. Team USA CEO Jerry Colangelo has encouraged roster members to come to the minicamp even if they can’t play due to injury.
Anthony is not and should not be rushing his return from injury. What to take away from this is Anthony wants to be on the roster in Rio. Anthony has two gold medals (2008 and 2012) plus a bronze (2004) but apparently wants more.
It also means Anthony should be good to go come training camp and the regular season this fall.
The purpose of the mini-camp is to get a look at some of the guys in the 34-man pool that coach Mike Krzyzewski and company will draw from. Not everyone will be there, but not everyone needs to be — for example, if LeBron James or Kevin Durant want to be on the roster, they will be, camp or no camp. But for a lot of guys — Anthony included — this is a show they want to make the cut.