The U.S. Olympic team, in search of two replacement players for Tokyo, never made Knicks All-Star power forward Julius Randle an offer.
The U.S. Olympic team, in search of two replacement players for Tokyo, never made Knicks All-Star power forward Julius Randle an offer, according to multiple industry sources.
With Bradley Beal out of the Olympics with COVID-19 and Kevin Love backing out days ago because of a lingering calf injury, tabbing Randle would’ve seemed natural.
Team USA’s brain trust felt it needed more role players on the squad that finished up its Las Vegas exhibitions Sunday versus Spain.
On Friday, Team USA announced Spurs small forward Keldon Johnson, who was on the Select Team already working out against the U.S team, would take one spot while journeyman center JaVale McGee would grab the other.
One USA source said its brain trust heavily discussed making Randle an offer but decided to go this route, feeling the roster didn’t have a true shotblocker on it.
Taking Johnson, who, like Randle, played at Kentucky, was a no-brainer in that the staff knew he was one of the best-conditioned players in Vegas and was added to the exhibition games because of the absences of the Olympians still competing in the NBA Finals.
In addition, Team USA coach Popovich runs the Spurs and this experience will be golden for his 21-year-old prospect — no pun intended.
The Post has learned Randle was amenable to joining the Olympians late in the process. Randle has been working out in his hometown of Dallas and is said to be in shape as he vies to duplicate his spectacular season in which he made All-NBA second team.
Randle has a big decision ahead of him next month whether to execute a four-year, $106 million contract extension or wait until 2022 free agency for a bigger payday.
But that contract decision was not going to stand in the way of the Texas native representing his country in Tokyo if offered the chance. The U.S. Olympians open July 25 versus France and will fly to Japan this week. The gold-medal game is scheduled for Aug. 6.
Aside from Love, Team USA also took Jerami Grant over Randle initially for his versatility. Grant was placed in COVID-19 protocols last week but was active Sunday.
Randle figured to be a dangerous international player as a point-forward type who can shoot the 3. He made 41.6 percent of his 3-point shots this past season in leading the Knicks to their first playoff berth since 2013. Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists.
The rumor was Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant preferred Love, who may be bought out by the Cavaliers with the Nets having interest.
The Olympians should be OK, though, without Randle. Managing director Jerry Colangelo is expecting to add NBA finalists Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who are all playing splendidly for Phoenix and Milwaukee, respectively.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman