A year after Bam Adebayo shared in Olympic gold with Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, there will be less foreign intrigue this time around for the Miami Heat.
Neither second-year center Omer Yurtseven nor rookie forward Nikola Jovic will play with their national teams in coming weeks at World Cup qualifying games or EuroBasket, with their teams in the process of opening national training.
While the Serbian national team has stated that the Heat denied Jovic permission to play in the international competitions, a source familiar with the situation said it was a mutual decision instead reached after consultations involving Serbia’s basketball federation, the Heat and Jovic.
Yurtseven’s decision to bypass the summer work with Turkey’s national team was a personal decision, according to a basketball source, made with an eye toward preparing himself for the Heat’s late-September start of training camp and a potentially larger role this season.
Jovic’s run during last month’s summer league was limited after he took a knee to the quad during the Heat’s opening game at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. In his previous game, he scored 25 points in a victory over the Golden State Warriors’ summer roster at the California Classic in San Francisco.
With Serbia possessing a deep and experienced roster, particularly in the power rotation, it was questionable whether Jovic would have received playing time. In addition to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, Serbia’s roster for their upcoming round of international competition includes veteran NBA big men Boban Marjanovic and former Heat forward Nemanja Bjelica.
Jovic, taken at No. 27 by the Heat in June’s NBA draft, had already returned to Serbia ahead of this latest decision.
At 19, the 6-foot-11 forward was the second youngest player of those called for the national team’s camp, having previously played for Serbia’s senior national team in World Cup qualifying when NBA players were unavailable.
According to Serbia coach Svetislav Pesic, the decision with Jovic was made by the Heat, “to get ready for the new season.”
The Heat’s position has been to support their players in international competitions, even with the European schedule this summer running as late as Sept. 18 and Heat training camp expected to open Sept. 27.
A year ago, Adebayo and Team USA finished off their Olympic gold-medal run at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 6. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra worked with the U.S. national team ahead of those Games and next will assist Team USA coach Steve Kerr at the 2023 World Cup. Heat guard Gabe Vincent and forward KZ Okpala, who was with the Heat at the time, played last summer for Nigeria’s national team.
Yurtseven, 24, had remained in South Florida since summer league, where he was unable to compete due to a quadriceps injury sustained in the previous round of World Cup qualifying. He appeared this week at the Heat youth camp run by former team broadcaster Tony Fiorentino.
Yurtseven was suspended for eight games in 2018 by Turkey’s basketball federation for skipping national-team activities without providing notice.
Had Jovic remained with Serbia’s national team, he faced a schedule of an Aug. 25 World Cup qualifying game against Greece. Jovic did not play in Serbia’s previous World Cup qualifier, already in summer league with the Heat when his national team, lacking Jokic, lost to Belgium on July 4.
Serbia’s first game at EuroBasket is Sept. 2 against the Netherlands in Prague, Czech Republic.
For Yurtseven, who was injured in Turkey’s July 3 World Cup qualifying victory over England, the next World Cup qualifying game would have been Aug. 25 against Greece.
Turkey then was scheduled to begin EuroBasket on Sept. 1 against Russia, with the game canceled with Russia ruled ineligible. Turkey instead will play on Sept. 1 against Montenegro in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
Several NBA teams are braced for late-arriving players to camp after EuroBasket. Among NBA players scheduled to complete in EuroBasket beyond Jokic, Marjanovic and Bjelica for Serbia, are Giannis Antetokounmpo for Greece, Luka Doncic, Vlatko Cancar and Goran Dragic for Slovenia; Jusuf Nurkic for Bosnia; Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier for France; Dennis Schroder, Franz Wager and Mortiz Wagner for Germany; Danilo Gallinari for Italy; Domantas Sabonis for Lithuania; Yurtseven, Cedi Osman, Alperen Sengun and Furkan Korkmaz for Turkey. Several other participating basketball federations have yet to submit rosters.
Heat players generally tend to begin to congregate at FTX Arena a week or two before the start of training camp, but younger players often spend most of the summer working with the coaches on the team’s practice court.
The Heat have worked previously to accommodate such international scheduling, with Dragic returning on the eve of 2017 training camp after leading Slovenia to its first EuroBasket championship. He went on that season to become an All-Star for the lone time in his NBA career.
Yurtseven is expected to compete in camp for playing time behind Adebayo at center, with Jovic seen as more of a long-term developmental prospect.
Source: Berkshire mont