NBA: Utah Jazz players look to make an impact on world stage
Summer league is over. Training camp is still two months away. So, naturally, it's time for basketball.
Basketball's World Cup starts late next month in Spain, and a few members of the Utah Jazz are hoping to make their presence known on the global stage.
Dante Exum (and Jazz summer leaguer Brock Motum) have returned to Australia to prepare for the tournament. Center Rudy Gobert is back home in France.
And Utah's new max-man, Gordon Hayward, will begin his quest to earn a spot on the United States' 12-man roster starting Monday, when Team USA begins it's camp in Las Vegas.
Exum, the Jazz's first-round pick in last month's draft, figures to have the most prominent role among his teammates. With point guard Patty Mills injured, the 19-year-old Exum should get heavy minutes in the Australia backcourt.
Jazz officials think it's a tremendous opportunity for the young point guard.
"We've had a lot of players ... that have used the national team to help develop their game as young players," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "We think this is ideal for Dante, who hasn't had a lot of experience playing against men and certainly men that are much older and much more experienced. We think the national team during the early portion of his career will be very critical to his development."
Lindsey added, "The Australian Basketball Federation is excellent, very well coached. We're really looking forward to him learning. We see this as a real win."
After impressing coaches during his second summer league, Gobert returned to France immediately to train with his national team. The 7-footer has a big opportunity awaiting him, as French big men Kevin Seraphin and Alexis Ajinca have been ruled out of the tournament with injuries. Hayward, meanwhile, is one of 19 American players competing for 12 spots on team USA. Hayward will attend a mini-camp later this month in Las Vegas. Former Jazzmen Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap will also be at the camp. As will former Weber State star Damian Lillard.
And Hayward will have some company from the current Jazz roster, too.
Jazz point guard Trey Burke has been named to the USA Select team, a group of up and coming players picked to practice against the national team.
"They're getting excellent coaching with Coach K," Lindsey said of USA and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We think with good balance, all these experiences will help expedite our growth."
Millsap added to Team USA's camp roster
Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap was added to Team USA's roster for the training camp that opens Monday in Las Vegas. Millsap, formerly of the Utah Jazz, averaged 17.9 points last season for Atlanta and was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
USA Basketball also announced that Jimmy Butler will be unable to participate in the training camp because of a groin injury.
Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard recently withdrew from the roster that will be cut it 12 for the FIBA World Cup in Spain.