Giannis Antetokounmpo focused on qualifying Greece national team for Olympics, not thinking about Team USA

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks has represented Greece in international competition many times, dating back to the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship in 2013. But he has never played in the Olympics. Ahead of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Piraeus, Greece, Antetokounmpo told reporters that he wants to change that.

“I have never played in the Olympic Games and I really want for us to get there,” Antetokounmpo said, as translated by Eurohoops. “We have the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The only incentive is qualifying, not Team USA or anything else.”

The tournament, which begins on July 2, features Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, New Zealand, Dominican Republic and Egypt. Only the winner will get a spot in the Paris Olympics.

Antetokounmpo has been out of action since straining his left calf on April 9 in a regular-season game against the eventual champion Boston Celtics. After the Bucks were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in six games in the first round of the playoffs, Antetokounmpo said that he “wasn’t even close” to returning and couldn’t run at full speed. Now, however, he sounds ready to go.

“I have not practiced yet, but I feel better,” he said. “I cannot wait to join the training camp.”

This will be Antetokounmpo’s first experience playing for Vassilis Spanoulis, the Greek basketball legend who is now the head coach of the national team. Spanoulis retired as a player in 2021 and has spent the last two seasons coaching Peristeri in the Greek league.

“I think this is what the national team needs,” Antetokounmpo said, “A person with many unbelievable moments for Greek basketball, from playing for the national team to Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. He has tremendous experience as a player. As a coach over the last two years, he showed what he can do.”

Other familiar faces on Greece’s extended roster for this training camp include Kostas Papanikolau, Nick Calathes, Kostas Sloukas, Georgios Papagiannis, Thomas Walkup and Kostas Antetokounmmpo. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the older brother of Giannis and Kostas, will not participate, as he had surgery to repair a torn Achilles in May.

Antetokounmpo might not be the only perennial All-NBA First Team player in the qualifying tournament. Luka Doncic’s status is up in the air after the Dallas Mavericks’ run to the NBA Finals, during which the superstar played through several injuries.

“He will make the best decision for himself,” Antetokounmpo said.

Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley, Sam Cassell, Scott Brooks could join new staff, per reports

The Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a new head coach is over: It’s JJ Redick, the player-turned-podcaster/broadcaster who, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jovan Buha, the team thinks could be “their version of Erik Spoelstra and Steve Kerr.” (Los Angeles has also, per The Athletic, compared his path from the court to the booth to the sidelines to the one that Pat Riley took decades ago. No pressure.)

The Lakers’ search for a new coaching staff, however, is ongoing. The Athletic reported that the recently retired Rajon Rondo is a candidate, as are Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Jared Dudley, Boston Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell and Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Scott Brooks.

These names aren’t new. On May 26, Marc Stein of The Stein Line reported that, should Redick land the job, he was expected to target Cassell and Dudley, as well as New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach James Borrego. (Both Borrego and Cassell were also candidates for the head-coaching position.) On May 29, the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike reported that Cassell, Brooks, Rondo and Dudley were all under consideration, as was Greg St. Jean, who was an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns last season and had been with the Lakers from 2019 to 2021.

Rondo played for the Lakers from 2018 to 2020 and again for the first few months of the 2021-22 season. He and Redick were in the same draft class (2006), and, in Rondo’s brief second stint with the Lakers, he was teammates with Dudley. In 2013-14, Dudley and Redick were teammates with the Los Angeles Clippers and Cassell was on the coaching staff. Cassell coached Redick as an assistant under Doc Rivers from 2014 to 2017.

If Brooks, who was the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2008 to 2015 and the Washington Wizards from 2016 to 2021, is on the staff, it will not be the first time that he has helped a first-time head coach make this transition. When the Blazers hired Chauncey Billups in 2021, they hired Brooks as his lead assistant.

Coaching LeBron James

It’s official. JJ Redick just got one of the most daunting jobs in the NBA.

Not coaching the Lakers, though that is a job that he accepted Thursday on a four-year deal. No, the job Redick will take on, that ranks as perhaps the league’s most difficult, is coaching LeBron James.

On the degree of difficulty scale, that responsibility ranks about as close toward “good luck” as you can get.

Yes, LeBron is still a stunning talent, and he, coupled with Anthony Davis, will provide a chance at success. Yes, LeBron’s a profile raiser and basketball savant, qualities any budding head coach would crave as they strive to burnish the beginning of a career on that side of the game. And, yes, coaching the Los Angeles Lakes is a big-time opportunity, the rarified air that comes with one of only 30 such jobs on earth but swathed in purple and gold and all that comes with those storied colors.

But there’s also the fact you better win. Today.

Strike that.


And the reality that LeBron, with those exacting standards, frenetic drive and ability — how to put this accurately but kindly — to love you one day and freeze you out until you’re fired the next can be as treacherous as he is remarkable to coach.

Take the coaching history that surrounded his all-time great career. LeBron has had eight full-time head coaches in his career. Only two — Erik Spoelstra and Ty Lue– weren’t let go on his watch (five coaches were fired and Luke Walton “mutually parted ways” with the Lakers in 2019 before taking the Kings job). And even those two cases require some caveats.

King James wanted Spo fired all the way back in 2010, the King’s first year in Miami, right around the time he realized not all basketball royalty can rule by royal decree. I covered that team, that saga, and can remember that buzz-beyond-belief Heat team starting 9-8 and all the angst it rained down, LeBron’s ire toward his might-have-been-former coach included.

That was a sign then not just of Pat Riley’s rare ability to tell LeBron no. It was a sign of the intangibles and troubles that can pop up when the promise and glitz of a LeBron James team hits smack into some kind of not-as-sexy reality.

With Lue, remember, he stepped into the fold after the guy he was the top assistant coach to, David Blatt, got fired despite having a 30-11 record — 30-11! — at the time of his dismissal in 2016.

That team then went on to win an NBA Championship.

It’s also worth noting that while Lue and Spo both won titles with LeBron, it’s not as if a ring inoculates one against later being dealt a bad hand and being fired.

Three years ago Frank Vogel coached the Lakers to an NBA championship. Two seasons later, he was gone.

To say coaching LeBron James is a poisoned chalice would be disingenuous, lacking nuance and ignorant of his greatness. But the job isn’t exactly a professional fountain of youth, either.

LeBron James can bring you glory. But he can also be… challenging. In the extreme.

I can remember, during the Blatt years, accidentally stumbling into a 2015 NBA Finals practice I wasn’t supposed to be at. Before hustling myself out of there — I’d had to retrieve a left-behind backpack — I caught a glimpse of LeBron coaching his team while Blatt, forlorn and alone, looked like the kid bullied so often in high school gym class he’d just decided to put himself in the corner.

Point being: LeBron has power, with front offices and locker rooms, and he’s not afraid to wield it. As with Jordan and Kobe, part of LeBron’s approach comes with some personality traits that would be flaws if not for the greatness they help produce. Such it is with stars. They shine incandescently, yes, but they can burn you up, too, if you don’t know how to navigate them.

There’s also the fact that the expectations around such greats are sometimes, and maybe especially right now, particularly unfair. The Lakers just aren’t that good. The LeBron-AD tandem is not enough. It’s two consecutive years that they’ve been roundly dominated and sent home during the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets. LeBron will be 40 years old later this year. And the Western Conference Redick will now be coaching in, with the pressure to succeed, looks unbelievably deep next season — maybe even 13 teams deep.

Los Angeles not making the playoffs in Redick’s first season is well within the realm of what’s possible.

Does his podcast partnership with LeBron James protect him from the slings and arrows that can follow coaching an underwhelming LeBron James team? Does he have the temperament — some might read here: humility and media-management skills — to ride out the bad and bitter times before things turn? Does having been on TV for 15 seconds make him a lock to successfully navigate the strange and wondrous terrain surrounding LeBron James’ teams?

Oh: And can he actually coach?

Maybe, to all of those, the answer will be an emphatic yes.

But Redick’s about to test those questions, the ones that may define this new stage of his career, under the most difficult of situations: The one where, in coaching LeBron James, you best understand that failure is not an option and that the problems that arise will almost certainly be laid at your feet.

Why Lakers’ JJ Redick hire makes it even more likely they will pick Bronny James in 2024 NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers ended their coaching search on Thursday by hiring former NBA veteran and ESPN analyst/broadcaster JJ Redick. The first-time coach will lead one of the most prominent franchises in professional sports after never coaching at the professional or amateur level.

Redick has been co-hosting the “Mind the Game” podcast with current Lakers superstar LeBron James since March. The hire of Redick is the latest clue and signal that Bronny James — LeBron’s oldest son — will be a member of the Lakers sometime next week during the two-day NBA Draft that starts on Wednesday.

The Lakers hold two picks (Nos. 17 and 55) in the draft. I’m here to tell you that one will be used to draft the USC star.

If you have followed this development since Bronny enrolled at Sierra Canyon High School in Southern California in 2019 less than a year after his father joined the Lakers in free agency, you knew the logical plan was to have the father-son duo on the same team one day. For all the records LeBron has broken and the accolades he has received in his illustrious career, you would think teaming up on the same team with his son to become the first father-son duo to play together in the NBA would top that list.

“I need to be on the floor with my boy, I got to be on the floor with Bronny,” LeBron said last year during an interview with ESPN. “Either in the same uniform or a matchup against him. I don’t mean like [guarding one another all game] — because he’s a point guard and I’m a, at this point now I’m playing center or whatever the team needs from me. But I would love to do the whole Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. thing. That would be ideal for sure.

“I ask him what are his aspirations, and he says he wants to play in the NBA. So, if he wants do to it, he’s got to put in the work. I’m here already, so, I’m just waiting on him.”

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, who serves as Bronny and LeBron’s agent, spoke publicly to ESPN this week about limiting the pre-draft workouts of his client by design. Paul confirmed he was doing it to ensure that Bronny, who has only worked out with the Phoenix Suns and Lakers thus far, goes to a team that’s a good fit and will offer him a guaranteed deal.

“This is nothing new,” Paul told ESPN. “The goal is to find a team that values your guy and try to push him to get there. It’s important to understand the context and realize that this has always been the strategy with many of my clients throughout the years, especially those in need of development like Bronny. My stuff is by design.”

For the first time since James joined the Lakers six years ago, he could enter free agency. James has a $51.4 million player option with the Lakers that he can choose to accept or decline by June 29. While Paul pushed back on the notion that the father-son duo are tied together, it makes too much sense not to see them play together.

“LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny,” Paul said. “If he does, he does. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. There’s no deal made that it’s guaranteed that if the Lakers draft Bronny at 55, he [LeBron] will re-sign. If that was the case, I would force them to take him at 17. We don’t need leverage. The Lakers can draft Bronny, and LeBron doesn’t re-sign. LeBron is also not going to Phoenix for a minimum deal. We can squash that now.”

The Lakers can make all parties happy by drafting Bronny. LeBron has another incentive to re-sign with Los Angeles for the remainder of his career. Bronny gets a chance to develop as a player at the highest level after his freshman season at USC was delayed due to a health scare. Redick gets to coach the duo while also playing a factor in Bronny’s development.

As I wrote this week, I would be stunned if Bronny isn’t a member of the Lakers by the end of the draft. Pivoting back to hiring Redick after publicly striking out on UConn coach Dan Hurley affirms it’s not a matter of if but when (and what pick) the Lakers will use to draft Bronny.

15-year NBA veteran, TV analyst takes over Los Angeles franchise

The Los Angeles Lakers are hiring JJ Redick as their next head coach, sources confirm to CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter. Redick, a 15-year NBA veteran who played for the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks, was most recently in a TV analyst role with ESPN. He has never coached at the professional nor amateur level.

While successful on the court, Redick’s rise to prominence has largely come through the media as he hosted a podcast during his playing career. Since retiring, he has worked as a critically acclaimed broadcaster for ESPN. Now, Redick takes one of the highest-profile gigs in the coaching profession for his first job.

Redick’s hiring comes at the end of a tumultuous search for the Lakers. While he was one of the first names linked to Los Angeles as a candidate, the search took more than a month in total and included a lengthy courtship of UConn coach Dan Hurley. A six-year, $70 million offer wasn’t enough to sway Hurley to the pros, so the Lakers instead turned back to a candidate who was in the mix from the start.

While it is rare for NBA teams to hire head coaches without prior coaching experience, it is not unprecedented. Most recently, the Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash in 2020. He had not previously worked on a full-time coaching staff, though he had done developmental work for the Golden State Warriors. The New York Knicks hired Derek Fisher immediately following his retirement as a player in 2014, and the Nets did the same for Jason Kidd in 2013.

The most successful hire of this style has been Steve Kerr, who took over the Golden State Warriors job in 2014 and has since led teh franchise to four championships. Kerr, however, had worked in the front office for the Phoenix Suns before entering the coaching world.

Though he lacks experience, Redick has been on the candidate list of NBA teams since at least last summer. He interviewed with the Toronto Raptors following the 2023 season and was a finalist for the Charlotte Hornets job this offseason before it went to Boston Celtics assistant Charles Lee. Current Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla attempted to lure Redick to his coaching staff as an assistant over a round of golf last offseason, but he was rebuffed.

In Los Angeles, Redick figures to have at least one valuable ally in his new team’s best player. Though LeBron James reportedly stayed out of the Lakers’ hiring process, he does have a relationship with Redick through the podcast they have co-hosted since March, “Mind the Game.” Buy-in from the locker room was surely an important factor in this hire for the Lakers, as reports indicated that former coach Darvin Ham had lost the support of his players throughout last season.

Still, the Lakers represent an extremely difficult job for a coach with no experience. Expectations are high for a team that won the 2020 championship and reached the 2023 Western Conference finals. Los Angeles’ best player, James, turns 40 this season. Fellow superstar Anthony Davis is coming off of an excellent, durable campaign, but prior to the 2023-24 season, he had missed an average of over 28 games per year since joining the Lakers.

L.A. has reportedly been targeting star additions this offseason with Donovan Mitchell at the top of their wishlist. With only three first-round picks to trade, though, it’s unclear whether the Lakers will be able to put together a strong enough package to land such a difference-making player. They could potentially use those picks to target role players instead, but the team will have luxury tax concerns next season assuming that starting point guard D’Angelo Russell is retained or replaced with a player of a similar price.

While winning now is obviously a priority, The Athletic’s Jovan Buha said during the search that the Lakers “want a coach that can be their version of an Erik Spoelstra, their version of a Steve Kerr.” That’s referring to a coach who can become a long-term fixture for the organization.

Historically speaking, the Lakers have struggled to find such a coach. Redick will be the franchise’s seventh full-time coach since Phil Jackson retired in 2011. If a star cannot be found this offseason, it is unclear who will lead the next generation of Lakers on the court after the 39-year-old James and 31-year-old Davis age out of stardom.

Redick and the Rob Pelinka-led front office will need to answer that question over time. For now, the focus is on maximizing the end of LeBron’s legendary career. The Lakers have taken a sizable risk by entrusting these years to a newcomer to the coaching world, but given the interest Redick had generated over the past few years, the reward may well be worth it.

 How will Los Angeles shape its roster around its new first-year head coach?

In 2015, Steve Kerr had quite a bit in common with JJ Redick today. Though he had front office experience with the Phoenix Suns, the bulk of Kerr’s post-playing career had been spent in the broadcast booth. That didn’t prevent him from becoming the top coaching candidate of that cycle, and he was ultimately offered two jobs despite no experience as a head or assistant coach at any level. One belonged to the Golden State Warriors. The other belonged to the New York Knicks. We obviously know how well it turned out for Kerr in the Bay Area. Derek Fisher, another no-experience coach, took the Knicks job and lasted less than two years.

Is Kerr a better coach than Fisher? Probably. But if Kerr had taken the Knicks job, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t be on a Hall of Fame coaching trajectory either. As much importance as we assign to coaching hires, they ultimately don’t matter if the team in question can’t get the roster right. Redick’s success in Los Angeles, first and foremost, is going to come down to the group of players that Rob Pelinka and his front office manage to provide.

So what kind of offseason is in store for the Lakers? Well, The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jovan Buha offered insight into their plans, though somewhat indirectly. In their story on Redick’s hiring, they put the following nuggets of information out:

The development of Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Max Christie is a priority. This was reported across several outlets during the team’s pursuit of Dan Hurley as well.
Redick plans to involve Anthony Davis more in the offense, particularly late in games.
Alleviating the ball-handling duties LeBron James is currently responsible for, provided he stays, is a major goal. The Lakers want to keep him fresh going into the playoffs.
OK, so what can we take from all of this? It’s hard to say for certain, but we can start with a rumor that a player himself generated. Soon after Redick was hired, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young tweeted an hourglass. Young’s fit makes sense based on several of these criteria. At the very least, he’d make regular-season life easier on James. He’d also go a long way in maximizing Davis offensively given his passing, especially on lobs.

Is a Young trade feasible without including those three core younger players? Potentially. It would depend on Young’s trade value around the league. The Lakers have three first-round picks and three swaps to dangle. They could match money if D’Angelo Russell opts into the final year of his deal by combining him, Gabe Vincent, Jarred Vanderbilt and Jalen Hood-Schifino. That would hard-cap them at the second apron because they’d be aggregating salary, but it’s doable. Such a move, if Atlanta is amenable, would allow the Lakers to keep Reaves, Hachimura and Christie in place.

Of course, Atlanta’s other top point guard, Dejounte Murray, was a deadline target of the Lakers and comes at a much more manageable $25.4 million cap cost. That’s a deal the Lakers could potentially match with just Russell and Vincent, though the draft capital involved would have to be greater than otherwise planned in order to account for the absence of the top Laker youngsters in the deal.

Neither scenario is necessarily ideal for the Lakers. The Hawks would likely push for Reaves or Hachimura in a potential Young deal. He’s also a defensive liability. Murray isn’t a great 3-point shooter, and he isn’t known for creating the sort of passes that get Davis easy points (specifically on lobs) in the the way that Young is.

It seems as though point guard is going to be the priority here. The reporting doesn’t state outright that offense will outweigh defense in discussions, but it certainly seems that way. It would take a substantial point guard upgrade to truly ease LeBron’s workload. The kinds of players who could actually do so while playing strong defense are probably just out of Pelinka’s price range.

Figuring out what exactly is on the table here will determine just how far the Lakers can go. Are they really willing to trade all three first-round picks to give Redick an immediate winner? The Athletic’s reporting stated that “Los Angeles is confident he can be their version of Erik Spoelstra or Steve Kerr – a culture-setter who can grow with the franchise for over a decade.” That doesn’t take a stance on the issue specifically, but it hints that the Lakers are thinking longer-term. If they commit to keeping the younger players in place, that might mean that the Lakers want to grow without ever rebuilding. A trade involving one or two picks rather than all three appears likelier.

That’s not the end of the world. James and Davis offer such a great starting point that cherrypicking viable role players instead of star-hunting could very easily prove more beneficial in the long run. They didn’t have a third star during the 2020 championship run, for instance. Malcolm Brogdon could probably be had for far less than Murray, and while he isn’t a high-usage ball-handler, he can at least keep the trains running offensively. Collin Sexton was reportedly a deadline target for the Lakers as well, and he comes with real two-way promise under the right circumstances.

The wing market is typically less kind. That would especially be true if the Lakers need to use one of their wings to match salary on something bigger. Ball-handling tends to be a relatively available and cheap commodity. The Lakers know that, having spent real assets on Dennis Schroder, Russell Westbrook and Russell in recent yers. Wings are much harder to find. Most championship teams develop their own. The Lakers seem prepared to bet on Redick’s developmental acumen.

We are still in the earliest and most uncertain stages here. James isn’t even a lock to return. He has a player option that he could exercise at any time. He hasn’t, and until his future is secured, the Lakers have to be flexible about what life after him might entail. The Redick hire seems to have been made partially with that thought in mind, but there’s no easy way to project their roster at this point. We know the broad strokes of how Redick wants to build but are still lacking details on how he plans to do it.