RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) When Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden were hired to take over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the expectation within in the organization and around the NBA was that they were coming in to make significant changes to a franchise with the longest-running playoff drought in the league. Ricky Rubio heard his name floated in the constant trade rumor mill, never more than after the Wolves selected Providence’s Kris Dunn, another point guard, with the fifth overall pick in the June draft. Rubio remained quiet throughout the summer, putting all of his focus into grieving the loss of his mother and then joining his national team to prepare for the Olympics. Now that the Rio Games have concluded and Rubio has earned a bronze medal with Spain, he said he is looking forward to returning to Minnesota to work with Dunn and reiterated his desire to remain with the Timberwolves and help turn them into a winner.
Only the Spurs (known for their international focus) and Jazz (built off the same front-office tree) had more 2016 Olympians than the Bulls. Chicago sent Jimmy Butler (Team USA), Nikola Mirotic (Spain), CristianoFelicio (Brazil) to Rio. For a moment, it appeared only two of the three would return healthy. Mirotic injured his knee when he banged it against Aron Baynes‘ in the bronze-medal game. But the Chicago forward says he’s fine. Mirotic: A stretch four, Mirotic will be crucial to the Bulls this season. He’s their only projected starter who’s an above-average 3-point shooter for his position. All those spacing concerns about Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler? The burden falls heavily
The 2016 Olympics served a therapeutic purpose for Kevin Durant, who won gold with Team USA after facing immense backlash for leaving the Thunder for the Warriors. What about 2020? What will motivate him to represent the U.S. in the Tokyo Games? Maybe Carmelo Anthony‘s American Olympic scoring record. Durant is just 25 points behind the Knicks star. Durant, via Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports: “I can’t say right now,” Durant told The Vertical. “I’ll be 31, going on 32 …” Overhearing the conversation, Anthony jumped in and shouted, “He’ll be playing in 2020 and 2024! I’m right. I’m right.” Durant laughed and shook his head as Anthony darted ahead as the most decorated American Olympic basketball player.