The Men's Olympic Basketball tournament begins a week from Saturday, with the U.S. opening against China. It's hard to see much competition, as none of the traditional powers outside the U.S. are at their height right now. Spain, the recent rival, is clearly not what they once were as their golden generation ages. They will also be without Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Serbia, which reached the Final of the 2014 World Cup, will be without Nemanja Bjelica. France might be the next best team, with Rudy Gobert, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, and Nic Batum.
The women's tournament runs concurrently, and the U.S., also huge favorites, open a week from Sunday. In fact, the women should be even stronger favorites than the men. There is really nobody to challenge them, which is a shame since it lessens the competition. In truth, I don't believe this is the strongest U.S. women's team in recent years, with several key players past their prime. Still, it should be plenty to get the job done. This is obviously worth watching for Lynx fans, with four players involved.
Elsewhere, C.J. McCollum agreed to a 4 year max extension with the Blazers, for about $106M. McCollum is the first post-third year player to sign an extension this summer. That's...a lot for a guy who didn't need to get to that contract right now. The Blazers would have retained matching rights next summer. They have spent heavily this off-season, and are now fairly committed to their current group.
It raises the question: Should some team with cap space (read: Timberwolves) sign RFA Moe Harkless to an offer sheet to put pressure on the Blazers to match? They are going to be fairly squeezed for salary in upcoming years, and might not want to commit to another eight figure deal. Is Harkless worth a flyer at $10-11M per for four years? He's a big wing with some defensive potential, who I know some have been interested in. This is, of course, just baseless speculation for a lazy summer day.
Finally, I'm not sure we covered the fact that the WNBA decided, under significant public pressure, to rescind the fines they issued for uniform violations in response to players wearing shirts to highlight the recent violence involving the police. The frustrating part to me is that prior to this, the players had asked the league to work with them on something they could all wear, but the league was not responsive. This is an issue that is very meaningful to many players in the league, and hopefully they can work something out.
That's it. No history today, I'm lazy.
Today's musical birthday is Mick Jagger, born in 1943