SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — There were 49 NBA players at the Tokyo Games when the Olympics started.
Make it 50.
The San Antonio Spurs have reportedly agreed to terms with Australia center Jock Landale to a two-year contract on Wednesday — one day before Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the coach of the U.S. men’s national team, faces Landale and the Australians in the Olympic semifinals.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 4, 2021
“One of the hardest workers in the game just kept getting better until he was inevitable,” Landale’s agent, Sammy Wloszczowski of SIG Sports, wrote on Twitter.
Landale going to the Spurs adds another interesting subplot to the U.S.-Australia semifinal. The primary one might be this: Patty Mills, who was the longest-tenured current Spurs player for Popovich before agreeing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets this week, is the starting point guard for the Boomers. Mills’ decision, first reported by ESPN, was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person with knowledge of the agreement.
“He’s obviously meant a great deal to me for a very long time,” Mills — who has yet not addressed the decision to join the Nets specifically, instead insisting his focus remain on Australia’s Olympic quest — said on Tuesday of Popovich.
Landale wasn’t an unknown entity to NBA teams before Tokyo.
He had been part of summer league before and had tried in the past to get into the NBA, but his play in these Olympics made it clear that his game would fit in the U.S. He’s shooting 55% in the Olympics, sixth-best in the tournament, while making half his 3-point tries and tying for the free-throw percentage so far after shooting 11 for 12 there.
“There’s a lot of really good players in it all started in ’92, with the Dream Team,” USA Basketball men’s national managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “For some reason, that exposed the game in a way that never had been done before, and international players started really dreaming about making it to the NBA.”
Of the four teams and 48 players left in the Olympic men’s field, there are 32 with current or past NBA ties — all 12 from the U.S. roster, eight from Australia, eight from France and four from Slovenia.
“At the end of the day, it just shows our game is becoming more international,” U.S. center Bam Adebayo said.