Ahead of the Olympics, USA Basketball will group some of the league’s best young players together on the Select team to workout and scrimmage against the Team USA roster that will go to Tokyo (that was finalized on Wednesday). While Gregg Popovich is at the helm of the main roster, the Select squad will be coached up by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in his first role with USA Basketball.
“I really just want to be a part of the program,” Spoelstra told the Associated Press. “I’m always pushing myself to get better in the offseasons; I go visit people and all that stuff. This is going to be a basketball immersion. I mean, the dinners, the team meetings … for where I am right now in my career, I think this is the perfect thing for a summer of development.”
The Select roster has yet to be fully determined. So far, the only two players confirmed are Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Cavs guard Darius Garland. For them, it’s a win to get to work with a coach as good as Spoelstra for a stretch while getting to play five-on-five against some of the best players in the world. In 2019, the roster included players like Suns forward Mikal Bridges, Hawks forward John Collins, Hawks guard Trae Young and Kings guard De’Aron Fox.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova head coach Jay Wright and former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce are the three assistants going with USA head coach Gregg Popovich to Tokyo, while Spoelstra will not. But it’s notable for longterm USA Basketball planning that Spoelstra, one of the country’s best basketball minds, is joining the program for the first time. Maybe Kerr or Wright will succeed Popovich for the next Olympic cycle, but perhaps Spoelstra is now on the path to one day get the job.