MIAMI – Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich have often talked about how much they enjoy training with each other.
This summer, they are teaming up to train against each other and against.
Spoelstra has accepted an invitation to join USA Basketball’s coaching staff for their Olympic preparations in Las Vegas next month. The Miami Heat coach, who went head-to-head against Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals, will be involved in training the select US select team, a group of players who will be brought to practice against the Olympic team.
“I really just want to be a part of the program,” Spoelstra said. “I’m always trying to get better in the offseason; I’m going to visit people and all that. It’s going to be a basketball immersion. I mean, dinners, team meetings … where I am right now at my career, I think this is perfect for a summer of development. “
Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards, runner-up in this year’s Rookie of the Year voting, will be among the headliners for Spoelstra’s team.
USA Basketball completed its 12-player Olympic roster on Wednesday, though the names may still change before the Tokyo Games begin.
The full roster of Spoelstra’s team is expected to be completed in the next few days. USA Basketball opens its training camp in Las Vegas on July 6.
It’s Spoelstra’s first season with USA Basketball. He and Popovich, who is the USA’s Olympic coach for the first time, have been talking about this opportunity for several months, though it didn’t materialize until the last two weeks and after the Heat were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. NBA.
Popovich is the longest-serving coach with his current NBA team, assuming the job at San Antonio in 1996. Spoelstra has the second-longest active tenure, having just completed his thirteenth season as coach of the Heat.
“I really admire what he’s done, moving up through the ranks and how he enrolled in the different levels of the League and ended up where he is,” Popovich said this spring of Spoelstra, who started in the Heat video room with Pat Riley and has been in Miami ever since. “He’s worked so hard, he’s done great work, and it’s exciting to see someone achieve that.”
Spoelstra will not attend the Tokyo Games. Popovich has three assistants: Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, Jay Wright of Villanova and former Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce.