De'Aaron Fox

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Jazz coach Quin Snyder tells Donovan Mitchell to ‘be a sponge’ around Gregg Popovich

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While other players continue to pull out of the USA Basketball roster — De'Aaron Fox was the latest, and P.J. Tucker before him — Utah’s Donovan Mitchell has been outspoken in his commitment to the team.

“Me, I’m 22, some guys are older and got to rest their bodies and I understand that…” Mitchell said Friday night after Team USA’s exhibition game win over Spain. “For me, I’ve never been part of USA Basketball and I’m honored to be here, I’m honored to have this privilege to go out and compete.”

A lot of players have left — or just not put their names in the hat in the first place — saying they wanted to focus on preparing for the regular season, especially players in the Western Conference, which is deep with outstanding teams. The Utah Jazz, now with Mike Conley at the point, are one of those teams with high expectations.

Mitchell, however, has the full backing of his coach Quin Snyder to stay with Team USA and learn from Gregg Popovich, as Snyder told Marc Stein of the New York Times.

“Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached…

“Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”

Popovich has had an impact on the young players on the roster. For example, there’s more maturity to Kyle Kuzma‘s game, and Popovich recognized him on the court Friday night when Kuzma made a couple of smart plays against Spain.

Just having different coaching voices — not just Popovich but his assistants Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova’s Jay Wright — can help a young player. The message may be consistent, but said in a different way, one that better gets through to the player. Styles matter.

Mitchell led Team USA in scoring against Spain with 13, but Snyder and Jazz fans are hoping for more. Not just gold at the World Cup in China starting Sept. 1, but that Mitchell comes back energized and with a broadened game after having been a sponge next to Popovich.

Kings’ De’Aaron Fox latest to withdraw from USA World Cup team

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Friday night, after Team USA’s confidence-boosting exhibition win against Spain, coach Gregg Popovich said the 14 players on the roster would all go to Australia for the next round of pre-World Cup tune-up games.

Only 13 players boarded the team play Saturday.

Sacramento’s De'Aaron Fox chose to withdraw from the team, something first reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and confirmed by USA Basketball. The reason given was to focus on helping Sacramento make the playoffs this season (the Kings have the longest playoff drought in the NBA at 13 seasons).

The decision came as a surprise.

Fox had been a standout at USA Basketball camp and impressed both the staff and fellow players. Kemba Walker called Fox the fastest player in the NBA with the ball in his hands and said his improved jump shot was going to take him to another level. Fox was considered a lock to make the roster, although he played just a little over six minutes in Friday night’s exhibition.

The Kings still have Harrison Barnes on the USA roster. Marvin Bagley III had been in camp but withdrew in the past week.

Fox’s decision makes it almost a lock that San Antonio’s Derrick White will make the World Cup roster.

USA Basketball is taking 13 players to Australia but will eventually have to cut one player before they tip-off Sept. 1 in China in their first World Cup game, taking on the Czech Republic. That’s a long, lonely flight home for one person.

 

Kyle Lowry (thumb) out for Team USA at World Cup

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So many players declined to play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. They all had their own reasons. Injury. Family. Upcoming NBA season. Some combination.

Nobody would’ve blamed Kyle Lowry for sitting out after thumb surgery. But he tried hard to recover and make the team, anyway.

Unfortunately…

Lowry:

I love Lowry’s competitiveness. Few players would have pushed it this hard. It’s a shame he won’t play.

The Americans are still in decent shape at point guard with Kemba Walker, De'Aaron Fox and Derrick White. Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell can also play both backcourt spots.

It’s other positions that are more concerning.

Marvin Bagley withdraws from consideration for U.S. World Cup team

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Sacramento forward Marvin Bagley III has told USA Basketball that he is withdrawing from consideration for the roster that will be sent to China this month for the FIBA World Cup.

Bagley’s decision was revealed Sunday, two days before he was to report to El Segundo, California, for the second week of training camp. Bagley was not immediately replaced, and unless that changes the U.S. will have 16 players still in the mix for 12 final roster spots.

The New York Times first reported Bagley’s decision to withdraw.

Bagley was on the select team – younger NBA players brought in to compete against national-team candidates – last week in Las Vegas, and earned a promotion to the national team Friday night following USA Basketball’s intrasquad scrimmage.

Sacramento still has two players left as World Cup roster candidates, with Harrison Barnes and De'Aaron Fox headed to camp this week. Boston has four – Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton remain candidates, along with Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Denver’s Mason Pluelee, Houston’s P.J. Tucker, Indiana’s Myles Turner and San Antonio’s Derrick White.

Lowry (thumb surgery) and Smart (calf strain) are both dealing with injuries, with clarity on their situations expected to come early this week. The Americans will practice at the Lakers’ facility Tuesday through Thursday, then face Spain in Anaheim, California on Friday night.

Team USA cuts Thaddeus Young, Bam Adebayo after scrimmage

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Team USA had its Blue vs. White scrimmage on Friday night, with the more senior Blue team taking home the victory, 97-78 during the outing in Las Vegas.

After the game was over, the team decided to make a few cuts as it tries to whittle down its roster for the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Among the cuts were Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young and Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo.

Via Twitter:

Good news from Las Vegas has come for Kings fans, who will see their Marvin Bagley added to the potential list for China. De'Aaron Fox has been a star during his time with Team USA thus far, and appears to be a lock by many accounts to make the team for the World Cup.

This is going to be an interesting outing for everyone involved. There aren’t a lot of NBA superstars on this team, if you could count any. But there is a lot of young talent, and it could open up the USA for a whole new generation of players looking to play internationally.

Meanwhile, opposing countries smell blood in the water and they are certainly circling the upcoming tournament at the end of August as a means to hoist victory over the United States.