• These Olympics could be the last in which professional players, at least those age 23 and older, will compete. As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has reported, the NBA and FIBA are pushing for the veteran pros to play a different tournament — the basketball World Cup — that would be created and sanctioned by FIBA and the NBA. As Wojnarowski notes in the above column and this one about whether NBA players might object to an Olympics prohibition, the motivating factor is money. If the NBA governs or co-governs the World Cup, it would get a share of television money and other revenues that currently go to the International Olympic Committee. (There is, of course, already a FIBA World Championship, which the U.S. won in 2010, but it has yet to generate the same kind of interest — especially in the U.S. — as soccer’s World Cup).
If the NBA owners are getting another chunk of money, they might not be so queasy about sending their expensive players, on mostly guaranteed contracts, to play in non-NBA games in which they might suffer injuries. Here’s Mark Cuban talking to Wojnarowski:
“The Olympics are a huge for-profit endeavor,” Dallas owner Mark Cuban told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday. “It makes no sense that NBA owners subsidize it.”
And here’s an anonymous GM on players potentially refusing to playing in the World Cup in order to keep the Olympics in its place as the world’s most prestigious international tournament — an event from which the NBA’s owners reap mostly indirect (but still substantial) benefits instead of direct cash flows:
“If players take this control, should they also take the risk on their contract money?”
In the same piece, Spurs general manager R.C. Buford talks about potential issues with team doctors in international play.
Cuban added some thoughts on Twitter today, and Kobe Bryant addressed whether Team USA members should be paid for their participation beyond the standard Olympic per diem.
These are all hot-button issues. A general question for fans: If there is going to be one tournament above all the others that draws all of basketball’s biggest stars, do you care which one it is — the Olympics or the World Cup?
• K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune spent some time in the London neighborhood where Luol Deng lived after his family was granted asylum from Sudan. The result is a really wonderful piece about Deng’s childhood, the youth hoops program that got him hooked on the game (and away from soccer!) and why the Bulls’ forward was never going to let a torn wrist ligament keep him out of these Olympics on home soil.
• Tyson Chandler has never made an All-Star team in the NBA, but he has become a core member of Team USA. Chandler reflects in this Michael Wilbon piece about first getting the call to try out for the top international squad:
“I never thought it would be possible, the way my career was going,” Chandler said. “In 2007, [Team USA Basketball chairman] Jerry Colangelo called. I know where I was when I got the call. I was at the dentist’s office. He asked if I wanted to try out for the team and I jumped out of the chair.”
• Marc Gasol is dealing with a shoulder injury, but he was going to play in these Olympics regardless. As Memphis fans surely remember, Marc’s brother, Pau, broke his foot in international competition during the summer of 2006 and missed the start of the Grizzlies’ disastrous 2006-07 season.
• Manu Ginobili has a hilarious suggestion for how Argentina might defend Tony Parker in Tuesday’s Argentina-France game. It’ll be the first time that Ginobili and Parker have gone head-to-head aside from San Antonio practices.
• Gregg Popovich has gone out of his way to praise Jacque Vaughn during Vaughn’s brief stint as an assistant coach in San Antonio. That stint is over now that the Magic have named Vaughn their new coach.
• Jared Dubin, writing at Hardwood Paroxysm, on the evolution of basketball and the (slowly) declining importance of traditional center size.
• Wizards owner Ted Leonsis does not expect to pay the luxury tax ever.
• Bojan Bogdanovic, a highly regarded Croatian wing and Nets draftee, reflects on being temporarily banned from the national team.
• Portland fans, staring at the reality of their team’s paying Nicolas Batum more than $11 million per year over the next four seasons, would really like the 23-year-old forward to perform well at the Olympics.
• Batum says some teams can beat the Americans. In that same story, Carmelo Anthony addresses the early fouls that Team USA picked up in Sunday’s win over France:
“There were some calls where we looked up and we were like: What are we doing wrong? We know that our mind-set is that from here on out we know how that’s going to be officiated, we have to live with that.”
• Waiting for Boston to finalize Jeff Green’s deal is driving Celtics fans a little nutty.
“I have so many stories about him, but one is he was trying to get me to go hunting. He kind of chastised me because I didn’t want to get on the boat and hunt an alligator. That’s who he is. He’s quirky, but he’s fun loving. He likes to hunt and be in nature. That’s not my style, but he’ll make fun of me. I like my life. I like to live. He hunts everything. He has all types of guns. He likes to have fun.”