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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Coach K still ready to lead Team USA

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

Mike Krzyzewski
Coach K will lead Team USA through the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

LAS VEGAS -- As he officially launched this week into four more years in charge of America's team, Mike Krzyzewski shared his most detailed explanation yet why he was initially so convinced that he'd be walking away from the international arena after the 2012 Olympics.

Turns out Krzyzewski wasn't sure how much coaching he wanted to do -- of any kind -- after the long grind in London that secured a second straight gold medal for Team USA only after a narrow, nervy escape against Spain in the championship game.

"A year or so ago, I was thinking a little bit about [retirement]," Krzyzewski revealed this week.

"I'm 66. I wasn't sure how long I was going to coach.

"But I'm not thinking about that at all any more and haven't been for a while. I'm sure I'm gonna coach for a while, and through the Olympics by far."

Translation: If he wasn't sure how long he'd be on Duke's bench -- and he wasn't quite sure last August when the Olympics wrapped up -- Krzyzewski couldn't even think of agreeing to coach the national team for another four-year cycle.

He has made it clear here in Las Vegas that he would "never leave Duke," but he also conceded that "at some time you're going to stop coaching." And in the late summer of 2012, Krzyzewski wasn't ready to say he'd still be coaching the Blue Devils in 2015-16.

But that was then. As the 2012-13 season began to play out, Krzyzewski realized that he wants to coach Duke for at least four more seasons. Maybe more.

"I know," Krzyzewski says now, "[that] I'm gonna coach for a number of years yet even though I'm an older guy."

So once he made that determination, Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo's huge dilemma -- figuring out how to choose between Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers to succeed Coach K -- was no longer an issue. By May, Krzyzewski had agreed to keep coaching Team USA through both next summer's FIBA World Cup in Spain as well as the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, which will put him in an exclusive club alongside Henry Iba as the only U.S. coaches to take charge in three separate trips to the Summer Games.

"You shouldn't be a retired coach coaching the national team," Krzyzewski said, explaining why he felt so strongly that he couldn't have consented to stay on with Team USA unless he knew he was still in charge at Duke.

"You have to be on the firing line. ... You can't shortchange -- as a player or a coach -- the national team. I know that I won't and I know the guys that we pick won't."

Said Colangelo: "He could've sat back and said, 'I won the two gold medals and I've done my thing.' But he's a competitive guy. He has set himself apart from everyone already in terms of coaching. But he's still willing to put himself out there on the plank. And I love that."


Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, at 25, is the oldest player in Vegas, his birthday in October coming just a few weeks ahead of Ty Lawson's in November.

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world right now," Conley said Tuesday, describing this 28-player camp as the most "unique" experience of his career with so many top young talents gathered "in the middle of the summer playing as hard as you can."

But Team USA's busy schedule on the campus of UNLV hasn't stopped Conley from joining the Grizzlies' recruiting efforts in the chase to sign free-agent sharpshooter Mike Miller. Conley told ESPN.com that he called Miller on Tuesday morning playfully offering "golf on me for a whole year" if Miller chooses the Grizzlies over Oklahoma City in free agency.

"We're obviously trying everything we can," Conley said.

Memphis' latest problem? Word is that Houston has nudged its way into the upper crust of contention for Miller alongside the Grizzlies and Thunder as the 33-year-old searches for a contender to join after being released by Miami earlier this month via the amnesty clause.

"I do feel like we're right there," Conley said. "I do feel like we have a shot."


After two days of practices, along with the expected raves for the likes of Portland's Damian Lillard and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, two rather unheralded names have come up consistently in the desert when whispers circulate about players who've stood out among the 28 camp invitees.

No. 1: Utah swingman Gordon Hayward.

No. 2: Creighton forward Doug McDermott.

McDermott is one of only two collegians in camp along with Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, but he continues to mitigate what he's lacking in athleticism with his instincts and very impressive shooting.


The status of Bucks forward Larry Sanders for the week's final practice and Thursday's NBA TV-televised intrasquad scrimmage is scheduled to be updated Wednesday morning after Sanders suffered a sprained left ankle in Tuesday's long workout.

Initial indications are that it's no more than a sprain, but that could keep Sanders shelved for the second half of camp.


It wasn't quite on par with DeMarcus Cousins' Day 1 claim that "nobody" in camp is good enough to deny him Best Big Man status, but Utah's Derrick Favors uncorked his own dose of noticeable self-confidence when asked Tuesday by ESPN's Mark Schwarz to assess his odds of securing a roster spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Said Favors: "I love my chances right now." ... New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis says he's bulked up to the 228-point range and hopes to be at 235 by the time training camps open in October. ... Indiana's Paul George admits that he's "a little bit" surprised to see Coach K back for another quadrennial cycle but is clearly moved by the idea of snagging a spot on the team that will represent the United States at the Rio Olympics. Said George: "If I make this team, who knows, I could be on the last [national] team [Krzyzewski] coaches. So that would be a pretty special moment."