At Tokyo Olympics in basketball, France beats USA 83-76

ESPN.com: “Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth consecutive gold medal is already fraught with adversity. France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for a 83-76 victory to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA. The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing a comeback after the U.S. had a six-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points, one of the finest games he’s played in his career. It was followed by an incredible American possession in which they managed to get five shots and missed them all. The final three were wide open 3-pointers by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.”

WashingtonPost.com: “Evan Fournier was the hero for France, scoring a game-high 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting and hitting a crucial go-ahead three-pointer in the game’s final minute. Nando de Colo added 13 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with 21.8 seconds left. It was an agonizing night for Durant, who finished with 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting but was forced to the bench for long stretches after picking up four first-half fouls. Durant missed a pair of three-pointers in the game’s final minute and scored only one point in the fourth quarter. The Brooklyn Nets’ star fouled out with 15.5 seconds to play after playing just 20 minutes.”

ChicagoTribune.com: “Team USA got off to a rocky start in their first game Sunday, however, dropping their Olympics opener to France 83-76. It’s their first loss in Olympics play since 2004, snapping a 25-game winning streak. [Zach] LaVine, who made the starting lineup in his Olympic debut, scored eight points on 3 of 6 shooting, including a huge 3-pointer with just over four minutes remaining in the 4th quarter to extend the U.S. lead to seven points. Then France finished the game on a 16-4 run.”

Team USA member Zach LaVine has placed in USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols

USA Basketball Men’s National Team member Zach LaVine has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols and will not travel with the team to Tokyo today. Per USA Basketball, this is being done “out of an abundance of caution.”

USA Basketball hopes that LaVine will be able to join the team in Tokyo later this week.

Per ESPN.com, LaVine “is the third player to be affected in the past week, as Bradley Beal had to leave the team because of the protocols and Jerami Grant was in contract tracing quarantine for four days.”

USA Basketball exhibition game vs. Australia scheduled for July 16 has been canceled

Out of an abundance of caution, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team exhibition game versus the Australian Men’s National Team scheduled for Friday, July 16, in Las Vegas has been canceled because of health and safety protocols.

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team exhibition game versus Australia’s Women’s National Team will be played as scheduled on July 16, 11:30 a.m. (PDT) at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

The USA men’s and women’s national teams will conclude their exhibition schedule on July 18 when the USA women take on Nigeria at 2:30 p.m. (PDT) and the USA men will follow playing Spain in a 6:00 p.m. (PDT) tipoff.

Team USA guard Bradley Beal will no longer play in 2021 Tokyo Olympics

USA Basketball Men’s National Team guard Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), who was placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols Wednesday, will remain in health and safety protocols and will be unable to participate in the July 23 through August 8 Tokyo Olympic Games. A roster replacement will be named at a later time.

Beal was named to the U.S. Olympic Mens Basketball Team on June 28, and participated in the USA Basketball National Team’s training camp and exhibition games in Las Vegas. Starting in the USA’s first three USA exhibition games, Beal averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while playing 29.0 minutes a game.

Out of an abundance of caution, USA Basketball Men’s National Team member Jerami Grant has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols, USA Basketball announced Thursday afternoon.

Zach LaVine will reportedly play for Team USA in 2021 Olympics

Chicago Bulls scoring guard Zach LaVine will reportedly be going international this offseason. Via the Chicago Tribune:

LaVine committed to joining Team USA for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, securing the final roster spot on the 12-man team, the Athletic reported Wednesday. LaVine will make his first Olympic appearance alongside some of the NBA’s best.

Other players who have pledged to play in the 2021 Olympics include Kevin Durant, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Draymond Green, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Khris Middelton, Jrue Holiday, Jerami Grant and Kevin Love.

As usual, Olympic bball will be must-see TV. And as usual, hit our site for daily coverage.

Thunder sign forward Gabriel Deck

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed forward Gabriel Deck to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Per multiple reports, Deck’s contract with the Thunder is a four-year, $14.5 million deal.

Deck (6-8, 232) spent the last three seasons with Real Madrid of the Spanish Liga ACB. During the 2020-21 season, he appeared in 58 games (41 starts) and averaged 9.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 23.9 minutes per game, shooting 52.1 percent from the field.

Prior to his time with Real Madrid, the Argentinian native played two seasons with San Lorenzo de Almagro of Liga A in Argentina where he appeared in 113 games (106 starts) and registered averages of 18.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 30.2 minutes, shooting 54.9 percent. Deck spent five years from 2011-16 with Liga A’s Quimsa prior to representing Argentina in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Grant Hill will be next managing director of USA Basketball Men’s National Team

Olympic gold medalist and 19-year NBA standout Grant Hill has been approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors as the next managing director of the USA Men’s National Team. Hill will succeed current managing director Jerry Colangelo after the Tokyo Olympics.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve as managing director of USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team. I am looking forward to working with the USA Basketball staff and Board of Directors to lead this program so uniquely positioned for continued growth and for developing and promoting our top talent in events around the world,” said Hill. “As a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, I know the thrill and responsibility it is to represent our country. I am confident USA Basketball will continue to showcase the top talent and highest character players in our country.”

“We are very excited that Grant Hill will join USA Basketball as our USA Men’s National Team managing director. Grant is a proven leader of consequence and character who will continue to help us achieve on our twin goals of winning international competitions and representing our country with honor” said USA Basketball Board of Directors chair and retired General Martin Dempsey. “In making this announcement, I also want to emphasize how much everyone associated with USA Basketball appreciates Jerry Colangelo for everything he did for USA Basketball over the past 15 years.”

Toronto Raptors will stay based in Tampa, Florida for entire 2020-21 NBA season

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday that they will finish the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. Because of ongoing border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mindful of public safety measures in Canada, the team has decided they will continue to play their home games at Amalie Arena.

“Florida has been really welcoming to us and we’re so grateful for the hospitality we’ve found in Tampa and at Amalie – we’re living in a city of champions, and we intend to carry on the tradition of winning for our new friends and fans here,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto. We think often of our fans, of our Scotiabank Arena family, and all those we are missing back home, and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.”

The Raptors initially announced in November that Amalie Arena, in downtown Tampa, would serve as their home court for the first half of the 2020-21 season. A schedule release for the second half of the season is expected in the coming days.

Wizards rookie Deni Avdija plays well in NBA preseason debut

Washington Wizards rookie Deni Avdija looks very good in his NBA preseason debut yesterday. Via the Washington Times:

Even for Deni Avdija, a rookie who comes to the Washington Wizards already with professional experience in Israel, it took a moment to settle in after stepping onto the court for his first NBA preseason game Sunday night.

“In the beginning, I’m going to be honest and I’ll say, like, ‘Whoa,’” Avdija said postgame. “Like, you’re in Barclays Center and you’re playing against all those players you saw on TV.”

But Avdija wasn’t star-struck — at least not for long — in a matchup against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets. In Washington’s first preseason game, the first-round draft pick soon came into his own, showing a confidence that helped buoy his team during the 119-114 loss.

The 19-year-old finished with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting to go along with four rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes. While Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook didn’t play — meaning Wizards fans didn’t get a real hint of what the squad might look like this season — Avdija’s debut shows early promise that he could be a key contributor in his first year.

Facundo Campazzo signs with Nuggets in the NBA

The Denver Nuggets have signed guard Facundo Campazzo to a multiyear contract.

Campazzo, 5-11, 194, most recently appeared in 20 games (16 starts) for Real Madrid of the Spanish Liga ACB in 2020, averaging 10.2 points, 5.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 41.0% from the field in 24.1 minutes per game. The 29-year-old is a two-time Euroleague Champion (2015, 2018) and a three-time Liga ACB winner (2015, 2018, 2019) while also winning the Liga ACB finals MVP in 2019.

According to the Denver Post, “despite his 5-foot-11 frame, Campazzo’s a gifted passer known for his flash and creativity. The Argentinian guard has been with Real Madrid since 2014, where he was once teammates with Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic.”

The native of Cordoba, Argentina went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and signed with Real Madrid in 2014. Over five seasons he appeared in 270 games (175 starts), averaging 8.6 points, 4.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 41.9% from the field in 21.2 minutes. Campazzo has played in 63 games for the Argentine national team including eight games in the 2012 London Olympics and led them to a silver medal at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

More from the Post: “He’ll likely share backup point guard duties with Nuggets reserve Monte Morris, who’s made himself a vital part of the rotation.”