During the doldrums of summer, while the NBA world waits for basketball to return, many fans are able to turn their gaze to international basketball. Whether it’s the World Cup, Summer Olympics or EuroBasket, each year there is a high-stakes tournament to watch excellent basketball take place. This summer the FIBA World Cup has taken center stage.
The Golden State Warriors have had a few players taking part this summer, with Dario Saric leading Croatia to qualify for an Olympic play-in tournament next summer and Lester Quinones filling a role on a surprise Dominican Republic team that went 3-0 in the first group stage at the World Cup. Steve Kerr is coaching Team USA to their own strong start, although without any Warriors on the player roster.
That’s unique for Team USA, as they’ve had a lot of Warriors players take part over the past decade-plus. Stephen Curry has famously never been on an Olympic roster, but he helped the US win the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. Klay Thompson joined Curry on the 2014 team and then joined Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and outgoing-Warrior Harrison Barnes to win gold in Brazil at the 2016 Olympics. Green was back at the next Olympics to secure another gold for Team USA in Tokyo.
The Golden State Warriors’ ties to The Bahamas
One final member of the Warriors was involved in international basketball this summer, as assistant coach Chris DeMarco was the head coach of a Bahamas team that historically has done very poorly in international play. This summer was different, as the Bahamas leveraged deep ties to a number of players to field a team including Deandre Ayton, Eric Gordon and Buddy Hield. They twice upset host Argentina to qualify for an Olympic play-in tournament next summer.
The Bahamas aren’t done, either, as DeMarco hopes to have even more NBA talent next summer. Cleveland Cavaliers big Evan Mobley, his brother Isaiah and Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid all have Bahamian eligibility. Evan Mobley is the kind of player that Team USA may wish to take part down the road, but he could have a larger role for The Bahamas.
There is another player who has ties to The Bahamas as well, and to coach Chris DeMarco. His brother also happens to be an assistant coach on DeMarco’s staff. Could one of the Splash Brothers really switch teams and join The Bahamas in international play?
Which Splash Brother could be changing teams?
That’s what NBA Insider Marc Stein theorized in a recent newsletter (subscription required) discussing the intrigue of international play. While the US and France jockey for Joel Embiid, and Team Canada looks to come into its own as a world power, The Bahamas are making noise as they begin to draw their own NBA talent to themselves.
Stein points the finger right at Klay Thompson as a candidate to join The Bahamas next summer and beyond. Thompson’s father, Mychel Thompson, a former No. 1 pick who won two titles with the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, is from The Bahamas and is a major advocate for his home country. His oldest son and Klay’s older brother, Mychal Thompson, coaches with DeMarco for the national team. That’s a lot of pull toward Klay joining The Bahamas.
It’s not as simply as yelling “I declare I change teams” at the ceiling; FIBA has to allow the transfer as Klay has played for the USA team at the senior level. They do make that allowance at times; they did so to allow Eric Gordon to play this summer, for example. Klay certainly has some major connections to The Bahamas, unlike some players suiting up around the world for other countries.
Even if Joel Embiid chooses to play for France next summer, Team USA is stocked with talent and Steve Kerr will have some very difficult decisions to make. Will Stephen Curry suit up to win his first Olympic medal? Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Haliburton, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Anthony Edwards, Austin Reaves, Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell and Marcus Smart are all guards with experience playing for Team USA. That doesn’t even include De’Aaron Fox, Darius Garland and Cade Cunningham who are waiting in the wings. Is there even room for Klay?
Steve Kerr could choose Thompson based on a combination of his shooting, experience and a dash of favoritism. Yet it’s certainly a longshot that he would make the 12-man roster, while he would be a leader of the team for The Bahamas. The combination of shooting from Buddy Hield and Thompson would unlock plenty of space inside for Deandre Ayton and Evan Mobley. They would be dangerous not only to qualify for The Olympics but to get to the medal round too.
It’s not clear that Thompson would be interested, nor that FIBA would okay with the transfer. Stein seems to think there’s a great chance of it happening, and one of his key sources on the matter is Klay’s own father. It would be a ton of fun to watch Thompson playing for The Bahamas next summer, and it’s at least possible that it could happen.