Olympic basketball, NBA business intersect – KIRO 7 News Seattle


SAITAMA, Japan – (AP) – Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum go for gold even though they can’t forget the green.

Basketball and business will mix together in ways that players have never seen before. The quarter-finals of the men’s Olympic tournament arrive on the same day that Free Agency opens in the NBA.

While famous stars like Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry will focus on their future, some players are trying to keep an eye on the present.

That includes Batum, who has no contract for next season but insists his only concern is his next game.

“It’s not easy, I mean on the outside, but it’s pretty easy for me,” said Batum. “I know what to focus on.”

He said this is the qualifying game France will play against Italy. The French are one of the top seeds in the men’s basketball quarter-finals at the Tokyo Games, with a 3-0 win over the US as the culmination of their 3-0 opener.

But when the four quarter-finals are played in Japan on Tuesday, it will be Monday evening in the USA. Then players and teams can begin contract negotiations.

Fournier, who finished last season with the Boston Celtics, is poised to make the biggest deal he will ever get. Its stock has likely soared in Saitama, where it scored 28 points in defeating the US

Some players wait a lifetime for the opportunity to make money the way they want.

France, too, has waited a lifetime to win an Olympic gold medal.

Fournier has to juggle it all at once.

“It is so unfortunate that I have to give an answer on the day of the quarter-finals,” he said. “Hopefully the teams will be nice and they can understand that I don’t want to rush anything and that I can at least wait until after the game.”

The free agency in the NBA normally opens on June 30th and contracts can be signed in early July to get them out of the way – at least for the top players – before the national team’s games.

The coronavirus pandemic, which delayed the start of the season, forced the offseason to begin shortly before the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

It was Friday morning in Japan when the NBA draft took place. US coach Gregg Popovich from San Antonio and assistant Steve Kerr from Golden State spent some of their days off with their teams on the phone.

US striker Draymond Green had risen with the sun to tell Golden State general manager Bob Myers that he would like the Warriors to use their numbers 7 and 14 against Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

“Draymond, I spoke in Tokyo at 4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m.,” Myers told reporters. “While we were choosing, he texted me after the third or fourth pick and he said ‘Kuminga’. And I said, ‘We’ll see if he’s there.’ So he’s happy.

“And then, around the ninth pick, he said, ‘Moody.’ And I said, ‘I don’t think he’s going to be there.’ And I didn’t even give him those names. So he gave me a big thumbs up. “

The Australians were up early too. They are a tight group and wanted to celebrate Josh Giddey’s success. an 18-year-old who was inducted # 6 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Giddey had been at camp before the Australia Games.

But for Australian Joe Ingles, that high was followed by the low of his trading teammate Derrick Favors from Utah Jazz.

“It’s like family away from your family so I have a great relationship with Fav and I know his kids and he knows my kids and stuff,” Ingles said. “So it’s more than just a teammate, he’s a really good friend. It is of course a shame when a close friend is traded, but I also think that we understand business with it. “

Ricky Rubio was reminded again when the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to an ongoing point guard swap with Cleveland while playing for Spain.

Ordinarily it would be separate from basketball. Many players wouldn’t even consider playing in the Olympics until the free agency was settled, knowing that injury could jeopardize their chance for a life-changing deal.

But Patty Mills plays for Australia, unconcerned about its NBA future as he seeks to lead his country to its first ever men’s Olympic basketball medal.

“This is a lifelong job in a few weeks,” said the Spurs security guard. “I make sure that there are no distractions for me or my teammates.”

The same goes for Batum, whom Lawrence Frank, president of the Los Angeles Clippers, said the team is hoping to re-sign. The striker said that was up to his agent.

“I have to make sure that my team prepares myself for the next game because this is a big game and the rest will take care of itself,” said Batum, the French captain.

He got his big deal when he signed a $ 120 million deal in Charlotte five years ago.

Now Fournier could be making big bucks, more than $ 10 million a season. Some players would already be counting the money.

He’s in it for the gold right now.

“It’s easy not even to think about it because I mean, I have a quarter-finals in the Olympics,” said Fournier. “It’s huge. It’s a big moment in my career. I’ll take the opportunity and make the most of it.”

This week maybe on and off the pitch.


AP basketball writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.


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