Anybody who thinks the NBA’s offseason includes any actual time off is in for a rude awakening the next few months.
The Mavericks have a roster peppered with players who are going to be busy this summer, primarily with participation on their various national teams in preparation for trying to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo in late July and early August.
It’s not just Luka Dončić, although he will join the Slovenian team on Monday in his home country for training camp – accompanied by a Mavericks’ entourage who want to make sure his participation with Slovenia includes a sensible amount of rest.
Dončić has said that getting Slovenia to the Olympics is one of his goals, and with countryman Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat also out of the playoffs, it would seem like a good opportunity for them.
Many other Mavericks are involved in international competition.
Dwight Powell (Canada), Josh Green (Australia), Boban Marjanović (Serbia) and Nico Melli (Italy) all are preparing to play for their national teams. Maxi Kleber (Germany) is weighing his options after an injury-marred season. And, of course, Dončić hopes to get Slovenia to the Olympics for the first time.
This is in addition to the usual work that all players put in to try to improve their skills – and their chances of increased roles next season.
But this is a big summer internationally, considering that the 2020 summer Olympics got pushed back a year because of the coronavirus.
Only one Maverick is already secure in the knowledge that he will be in Tokyo – Green, the rookie guard out of Australia via Arizona. The Aussies already have qualified for a spot at the Tokyo tournament.
“It’s been a dream of mine,” Green said. “Also, just as far as a development standpoint, just being able to get games and feel more comfortable on the court around guys like Ben (Simmons), Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, guys who can really help me grow as a player.”
The rest of the Mavericks will have to go through qualifying tournaments to get to the actual Olympics.
Marjanović’s Serbian team will host a qualifier in Belgrade and among the teams that are in that grouping are J.J. Barea’s Puerto Rico and Melli’s Italian squad.
“We have a qualification tournament,” Marjanović said. “And we’re supposed to play against Puerto Rico and Italy. It’s fun, because I can play (again). ready to make our way to the Olympic games.”
Powell had an up-and-down season with the Mavericks, but Canada could be on the verge of a big push on the international scene with a lot of good young NBA players who come from Canada.
“I’ve taken (a couple days) to mentally recuperate, if that’s the word, but then I got to jump back into things,” Powell said. “Training camp is on Monday, so I’m trying to prepare the best I can going into that, let my body heal, but at the same time prepare (with) cardio so we can make the best run possible.”
Kleber remains uncommitted to the German team.
“My body, I want to take care of it first, so if it’s not healthy and I don’t feel well, still can’t run, I don’t see a point in playing,” Kleber said. “I have to recover first. But that’s something I’ll figure out in the next couple days.”
Kleber had a nasty case of COVID-19 in January and injuries to his ankle, Achilles and lower back during the second half of the season. As coach Rick Carlisle said, it was always something that Kleber was dealing with.
Interestingly, the Mavericks have nobody who will be playing for the U.S. Olympic team.