MANILA, Philippines – The task of defeating top-seeded France looks slightly easier with some big names opting out of the Olympic Men's Basketball Qualifying Tournament in Manila.
France TV Sport reported on Friday, May 13, that Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, and Ian Mahinmi will not participate.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert will also skip the tournament to recover from injuries. But Gobert told French national coach Vincent Collet that he would be available for Rio if France makes it to the Olympics.
According to French television station Sportando, sports agent Bouna Ndiyae stated that Batum, Fournier, and Mahinmi are all free agents this off-season and are looking to renegotiate or sign new contracts.
But as NBA rules stipulate, it won't be until July 7 when free agents can sign with any team. It is assumed that the 3 players are looking at this chance for a big payday and suiting up for the qualifiers might jeopardize their chances.
Batum last played for the Charlotte Hornets and rumors have it that the 6-foot-8 forward is headed for the New York Knicks.
Fournier played the last two seasons with the Orlando Magic while Mahinmi had a breakout season with the Indiana Pacers after the team traded away Roy Hibbert.
Mahinmi started all 71 games he played in while raising his previous averages of 4.3 points and 5.8 rebounds to 9.3 and 7.1 respectively.
Without Gobert, Batum, Fournier, and Mahinmi, France will hope that their pool of available talent will be enough to see them through.
Collet still has guards Leo Westermann and Nando de Colo, as well as NBA veterans Tony Parker and Boris Diaw of the San Antonio Spurs, and Joffrey Lauvergne from the Denver Nuggets. – Rappler.com