Update: Jazz release:
Dante Exum, playing for Australia in an exhibition against Slovenia, suffered a bad-looking injury.
Damir Radenovic of Kosarka.si
With Exum, Utah projects to be strong contenders for a playoff berth this season. He overtook Trey Burke as the Jazz’s starting point guard last year, playing a key role in their strong second-half offense. Exum is 20 and athletic, so there’s plenty of time for his offense to catch up.
These international games aid his development. But, as we see, they also carry risk.
Hopefully, Exum is OK. He also left a summer-league game with what appeared to be a serious injury, and that turned out to be minor. That he returned to the bench is an encouraging sign.
A contingent of current and former NBA players have spent the past week in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the league’s annual Basketball Without Borders clinic. But this year’s edition of the event is special in that it includes the NBA’s first-ever officially sanctioned exhibition game on the content of Africa. The game features a team of African NBA players including Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo against “Team World,” which features the likes of Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Marcus Smart and the Gasol brothers.
Fans in South Africa got an extra surprise during the game on Saturday: two of the most legendary African players in NBA history, and two of the most important ambassadors for the sport in Africa, suited up along with the current players. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and second all-time leading shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo checked into the game in throwback Rockets and Nuggets jerseys, respectively:
Olajuwon scored on the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic using his patented “Dream Shake”:
And Mutombo got a stop against the Jazz’ Trey Burke:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week that it’s only a matter of time until the NBA plays a regular-season game in Africa. This exhibition game is just the first step in that direction. But it was cool to see two legends in action alongside current players helping to grow the sport all over the world.
USA Basketball is holding a minicamp in Las Vegas later this summer, and seven new players have received invitations to participate.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Sources told ESPN.com that USAB has extended invitations to Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Memphis ‘ Mike Conley, Golden State’s Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, Orlando’s Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo and Utah’s Trey Burke to its Aug. 11-13 camp on the campus of UNLV.
USA Basketball is run like a college program, and with somewhat of an iron fist. Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski take their responsibilities very seriously, and expect unflinching loyalty and obedience out of the players who want to participate.
More from Stein:
Colangelo stressed that USA Basketball is making attendance at the three-day event mandatory for invited players if they are interested in securing a spot on the Yanks’ 12-man roster for next summer’s Olympics in Brazil, even if the player is rehabilitating from an injury or otherwise not yet cleared to join in on-court activities.
USAB already knows that Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Indiana’s Paul George and the Cleveland Cavaliers duo of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will not be ready to take part in basketball activities at the camp, because they are recovering from their various serious injuries from the past year. But Colangelo’s view is that “it’s important for everyone to be here as a sign of commitment for ’16.”
This seems like a needless power play, but again, it’s how things are done. And with only so many highly-coveted roster spots to go around for the Olympics in 2016, you can bet that a Vegas trip in the middle of August will be in just about everyone’s plans.