Sunday, May 26, 2024

Shams: Mikal Bridges still a possibility for Team USA in Paris Olympics

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With superstars galore lining up for Team USA in advance of the Paris Olympics, the new Dream Team has a single opening and Shams Charania reports that Mikal Bridges who played for Team USA in last year’s FIBA World Cup is among the possibilities for the last roster spot.

Shams reported for The Athletic:

Team USA, looking for its fifth consecutive Olympic gold in men’s basketball, selected LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday, as well as Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton, sources close to the players told The Athletic.

That’s 11 players and Shams added the names of the candidates for the 12th spot which included Bridges.

Teams are permitted to take 12 players to the Olympics. Kawhi Leonard is the leading candidate for the USA vacancy with Paul George, Paolo Banchero, Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson also under consideration, sources told The Athletic.

Bridges played well in the FIBA World Cup, finishing with the team’s best net rating and second highest scoring average behind Edwards, but the U.S. lost in the medal round to Germany and Canada, led by Bridges new head coach, Jordi Fernandez, and returned home without a medal.

Both then and during the NBA season, Bridges said playing for the U.S. national team was an honor and that he hoped he would be considered for the Olympic team, but the summer time gig appeared to take a toll on the NBA’s leading ironman.

In January, he told Joe Vardon of The Athletic he hoped to be considered.

“Just waiting to see — if (the invite) comes, it comes,” Bridges told The Athletic. “I don’t think I bear my head on it too much, because I’m so locked in on trying to figure out everything here (with the Nets).”

Bridges played 13 games for Team USA — five exhibition games and eight games in the FIBA competition — over five weeks, traveling 25,000 miles on a tour that took the team from Las Vegas to Malaga, Spain, Abu Dhabi, UAE and finally Manila in the Philippines. Bridges and his USA teammates, including the Nets Cameron Johnson, then returned home just three weeks before the opening of NBA training camps. Although Bridges did not cite the FIBA experience in talking about his end-of-season slump Monday, he admitted to being burnt out.

“I didn’t have the right headspace… I wasn’t as strong and positive as I should’ve been,” Bridges told the beat writers. “Towards the end, being so beat up mentally and lacking confidence, I think that hurt me.”

The Olympic training camp opens July 5, in Las Vegas, and Team USA’s first game isn’t until July 28 but, as Shams notes, players will soon participate in Olympic promotion,

Other than Bridges, no other Nets player is expected to play in Paris. Ben Simmons has officially be ruled out of Team Australia’s plans as he continues to rehab from his latest back surgery. However, Fernandez was expected to coach Team Canada again in the Olympics after their silver medal finish in Manila. Will his hire as the Nets new head coach change that?

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