Heat players Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson all have been selected to be part of the 60-player pool from which the 2021 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team will be chosen, multiple league sources said Saturday.
The Olympics - delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic - are scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo. With the NBA Finals scheduled to end as late as July 22, players who participate in the NBA’s championship round might not necessarily participate in the Olympics.
USA Basketball recently sent invitations to about 60 players who expressed interest in playing for the U.S. Olympic team.
Butler, a five-time NBA All Star, was part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in Rio De Janeiro that finished 8-0 and took home the gold medal. Butler averaged 5.6 points per game.
In an Instagram Live session with Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird last May, Butler suggested that he did not plan to play in the 2021 Olympics - which had already been moved back a year because of COVID - even though he was among the preliminary finalists to make the 12-man roster. “I told [Carmelo Anthony] that if he plays [in the Olympics], I play,” Butler joked at the time. “Melo said that he’s not playing.”
But Butler, 31, subsequently has accepted an invitation to be part of the player pool.
Adebayo, 23, auditioned for a spot on the U.S. FIBA World Cup team in the summer of 2019, but San Antonio Spurs and USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich cut Adebayo prior to that competition, opting instead to keep centers Myles Turner, Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee.
Popovich said at the time that “I wasn’t ready,” Adebayo relayed to The Miami Herald last January. “Everybody has their opinions, so I guess it was his opinion I wasn’t ready.”
But Adebayo has raised his game exponentially since then - he made last year’s All-Star team and was second-team All Defense - and he now has at least a decent shot to make the Olympic team.
Robinson’s invitation to be part of the 60-player pool is the latest step in his meteoric ascent from two-way contract player to one of the premier three-pointer shooters in the NBA.
Excluding Steph Curry, Robinson, 26, shot a higher percentage on three-pointers last season (44.6) than anyone who made as many threes (270) in a single season in NBA history.
This season, he’s shooting threes at an even higher clip - 46.1 percent - with 53 three-pointers in 14 games. That exceptional skill could earn him consideration for a roster spot.
Popovich will coach the U.S. Olympic team.
Here’s my Saturday Dolphins piece with news on Miami hiring a quarterback coach who has worked previously with Tua Tagovailoa.